TODAY -

Incredible Farewell from Mumbai

N. Arunkumar *

Incredible Farewell from Mumbai



Yours truly had tucked away his pen and put away his papers since a long time now. I was away on a tour to some parts of the country, including the big, bustling, and more crowded than overcrowded city of Mumbai. It is indeed a city that never sleeps, and there is no drought of activities that continue throughout the twenty four hours of the clock ticking relentlessly on our wristwatches. The people here do not walk: as they only run and, age is beside the point in this mad and wild sprint to catch up and, just do it. I could see even people in their later stages of life, literally running to either reach their destinations or perhaps more out of habit of running against the clock than required. There is never a dull moment in this city, and if you wish to live here, you have to accept the tide and the flow of life and live like a Mumbaikar, as all Mumbai citizens prefer to call themselves.

There is no question of aliens or foreigners here, since everyone can simply dissolve into the teeming streets, bazaars or colonies, of which again, there are just innumerable here. And, it is a ruthless city for those who are not capable to live a fast life. An unhurried and relaxed mover like me felt completely out of place, and so I just soaked in the lunacy of life around me, settling down as a mere observer of the great circus of living being played out all around me. Almost anything going on about me was worth watching keenly, trying to figure out the sanity of it all, among the insanity of it all, for a person like me who hails from a fairly relaxed existence, like here in Manipur. I would most certainly not trade places with Mumbaikars, and rather live a longer, more peaceful life, than get involved in that rat race to doom. At least, for me it was like a damning doom. In all this hectic frenzy, however, I had a most wonderful and amazing experience of my life, which I wish to share with my readers today. And believe me, it is an experience of a lifetime, perhaps.

My host in the city had warned me about getting mugged, robbed or pick pocketed on the streets of Mumbai, as there were big experts who exercised astonishing 'sleight of hands', and they could coolly lighten me of the contents in my pockets in a jiffy, if I was not watchful. I thought that was easy, since I considered myself a very vigilant tourist who could easily take care of me and my belongings. I walked around the streets for a few days, confident that something like being a victim of a pick pocket was certainly out of the question with me. That was my ultimate stupidity though. One evening, I got a message on my cell, saying that I had made a purchase of Rs. 10,000/- from my HDFC debit card, at a readymade garments shop. I staggered back and promptly searched my pocket for my wallet, and to my utter horror, I discovered that it was gone.

Anxious due to my loss, I instantly did the next sensible thing in such cases, and that was to call the helpline numbers of the bank and inform them to directly put my debit card under de activated mode, since it was stolen from me. I had not only lost my wallet with my cash, but also my debit card and a small fortune of Rs. 10,000 in the bargain. I had been taught a lesson, and it was all due to my impudence and implicit smartness. I knew, such lost cards are extremely impossible to trace, and I had never heard of anyone getting back a lost card or money, in my knowledge since the beginning of the plastic money assault into our lives. I was left to lick my wounds and make alternative arrangements with the bank to get a duplicate card, knowing only too well that I had lost my money on a swipe machine to an unknown shop in Mumbai. I honestly had no choice but to take the verdict, due to my own negligence, even though with a pinch of bitter salt.

I had another week to stay in the city. Of course my host, a dear friend from my college days, was there to help me tide over the immediate implications of going almost bankrupt at once. I began to make arrangements to get my money from the bank to continue on my further journey towards Pune, and then onwards to Goa, before returning back to home base. I had another 21 days of travel remaining, and all reservations were intact in my suitcase. And, that is when the miracle happened.

One afternoon, two days before I was to bid adieu to Mumbai, I got a call from my bank, enquiring if I was yours truly. I affirmed that it was I indeed. The caller identified herself as an executive of the bank and informed me that my card and money were recovered from a shop called Farewell, at a street called Hill Road, in Bandra, a posh suburb of Mumbai. I could not believe what I had just been told. I asked the caller to repeat her message again. And, yes, I had heard it correctly in the first instance itself. My money and card were safe, and the perpetrator who had stolen my card from me was in the nearby lock up, shut away safely for further punishment as per law. It was a miracle indeed.

The caller from the bank also gave me the address and details of the person who had my card with him and asked me to get in touch with the person, to recover my properties. I got the details and decided to go there immediately, after calling Mr. Nandubhai, the shop salesman, who had orchestrated the whole drama to my benefit, and helped me recover my fortune. I spoke to him on the phone, and promised to meet him that evening, along with my friend.

I went there at about 6 pm in the evening, and met Mr. Nandubhai, a very unassuming and simple looking gentleman, who was incidentally a salesman in the shop. He was not the proprietor. I shook hands with Mr. Nandubhai, and it was perhaps the warmest handshake I had ever given to anyone in my life in a long time. He recounted the sequence of events that led to such a pleasant end for me after all. He said that the persons who had gone to the shop with my card were of a particular community. Their names would never be the name that was on my card, and so it roused his suspicion about the authencity of the card in their hand. There were three of them who had gone into the shop to make the purchases, and Mr. Nandubhai was given the card by the leader of the gang, while the others were busy selecting more outfits for themselves.

Mr. Nandubhai excused himself, telling them to continue their selections, while he wanted to go to the rest room at the back of the store. From here, he quietly called the police beat van on the given number, and returned to the counter. Meanwhile, the leader who had given the card to Mr. Nandubhai, suspected that something was cooking up, and was ready to run away if necessary. The cash counter, manned my Mr. Nandubhai was near the entrance to the really well laid out shop Farewell. In a moment he saw the PCR van stopping there, and by instinct, he pushed open the door and ran away into the crowd. One other man also managed to escape from there, though a third one who was inside the shop still rummaging for the most expensive outfits was caught unawares.

Though the shopkeepers of the shop tried to give chase to catch the other two thieves, they managed to get lost in the ever surging Mumbai crowds. The only fellow who was caught was the third fellow, still inside the shop. The cops got hold of him, and his accomplices were easily picked up the same night, with his help. The shop registered their version of the story, and the police returned my card to the shop asking them to return it to the bank or even throw it into the dustbin if they wish.

But, thanks to the proprietor and Mr. Nandubhai, his employee, they informed the bank about the card, and they in turn traced the card to me and the rest of the sequence has already been mentioned at the beginning of this rather incredible experience I had in the city of Mumbai. The proprietor of the store, Farewell at Hill Road, in Bandra, Mumbai needs a special mention of gratitude for allowing the transaction to be cancelled and arranging the refund of my money to me. They were also able to recover their goods, as the thieves could not run away with the stuffs. I shall forever remember this shop, and will make it a point to visit the shop again, and Mr. Nandubhai will forever remain a cherished gentleman in my prayers as well as memory.

Good and honest people are everywhere, immaterial of caste, religion, color or creed. It all depends on when, how or where you come across them and they never fade away from your memory thereafter. Thank you Mr. Nandubhai; you are a magnificent human being. And, once more, thanks to all Farewell staff and proprietor for their daring deed in capturing the gang of thieves. All of you were wonderful and, I am sure you will always help more people who are cheated like me, as cheats are also everywhere on the globe.

With folks like you around, our trust and value of human relationships among mankind will get the boost it requires time and again. Indeed I had got a warmhearted Farewell from Mumbai, after all.


* N. Arunkumar wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at hareedesiree(at)hotmail(dot)com
This article was posted on October 27, 2012.



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