Monday, May 08, 2006

The Fake Note (... and the Stupid Guy)

Last night, after we had dinner at Hite Bar, I walked to a nearby tapri. You know the kind - where they sell cigarettes, mints, candy and suchlike. The owner of the tapri was deep in conversation with another customer when I arrived. They seemed to be discussing land prices and the customer actually had a writing-pad open, in which he was noting down some details.

I bought a couple of cigarettes and some mints, which came to about Rs 10, and handed the guy a 50 rupee note. He gave me the appropriate change, and while I was putting the change away and searching for a match box to light up, he removed another 50 rupee note from his drawer. He began to feel both of them in his hands.

He looked at me and said, “This note is fake! I can’t accept it. Give me another one.”

“I don’t have another one,” I explained to him, speaking the truth. Since the match box that was lying on the counter was empty, I hadn’t lighted the cigarette as yet. So I told him, “See, if you think it’s fake then give it back to me and here’s your change and the stuff I bought. Take them back. I don’t have anything else. I just received the note from Hite Bar down the lane, and I’ll return it to them if nobody else takes it.” (This last part was a lie, I’d had the note since the previous day.)

Now here’s where things start to take a strange turn. I expected him to return the note to me so that I could try my luck getting it exchanged at Hite Bar. However, he turns to his friend the other customer and gives him the note to feel too. They both exchange a series of comments between them about how the note is definitely counterfeit. (For the record, even I felt like there was something weird about the note. I didn’t look or feel completely right to me.)

The customer then tells him, “Ok, I’ll take the note.” I’m pretty surprised. Why would anyone want to take a phony bill? But he duly accepts the note from the tapri guy and hands him two twenties and a ten. Then I get an even bigger shock.

This man, whom I’ve never seen before and never wish to see again, as he neatly places the bill in his wallet, looks at me and says, “Look here, I’m taking this note now; but if no one accepts it from me, you’ll take it back, won’t you?” I would have been sure he was kidding, except for the fact that there wasn’t the slightest bit of humor in his tone. In fact, if anything, it was a scary voice. (Guys you meet at tapris at eleven at night aren’t normally the most pleasant anyway.)

“Ummm,” I mumbled, not quite sure of what to say. What does he expect? That I leave my business card with him? Or do I know him from somewhere? Surely, I can’t be that famous. (Not yet, anyway!) “I’m willing to take the note back right now if you want. But I’m not quite sure what exactly you mean.”

“See,” he tells me. “Since you don’t have anything else and the guy won’t sell you the cigarettes for this note, I’m taking it instead.” (Somehow this made me feel like I were a drug-addict in desperate need of some dope. I could do without the cigarettes, you know, and I’d told them that!) He continued, “But - if I can’t get rid of this note anywhere else, you will have to take it back.”

“Ok.”

I couldn’t finish lighting the cigarette and half-run my way back to the rest of the group fast enough. I kept looking back, half-expecting him to be following me after realizing the folly of his actions. However, it looked like Mr Scary was back to discussing real estate.

10 comments:

Siddhu said...

Lol! Damn weird... :P

Goddammit -now the ISI is counterfeiting 50 rupee notes too, uh?

It used to be just the 500s!! Well, better 50 than 500. :P

Anonymous said...

Oye chikne...

I'm the bhai who took 50 rupees - i want 50 rupees back - if i no get back 50 rupees in one hour - Aslam bhai will pay you visit.

You charsi log think ki ham dhandhe waale kuch jaante nahin hain. Oye, Arnold D'Souza, paise interest milaake waapas de de... nahin to, Aslam Bhai se teri baat hogi..

Bhai log ke saath khelna mat.

-Man at cigarette shop.

Arnold said...

siddhu - well, see that's what i dont get.. i figure it would cost about the same to produce a certain of counterfeit notes of any denomination.. hence why would anyone ever produce fake notes of any denomination other than the maximum existing one?? makes no business sense...

Anonymous said...

Oye man at cigarette shop, faltu mein mera naam mat le. Arnold D'souza se panga mat le, varna teri mujhse baat hogi.
-Aslam Bhai

Anonymous said...

Are, Aslam Bhai, kya bhai - aap bhi naa...

Chalo, sun le, Aslam Bhai, meri to nahin to Salem Bhai ya Dawood bhai se baat hogi.

- Cigarette shop bhai

Anna said...

Good god! this comment box should be labelled 'Not for non-hindi speaking people'.

Lol at the Cigarette shop stupid guy.
What are you doing with fake notes anyway? You never mentioned where you got it from...

Siddhu said...

I dunno if the ISI's doing business you know.

P.S: I wonder what we'd do without Pakistan. Who would we blame for everything, goddammit! :P

Arnold said...

anna - oh.. c'mon now.. we'll just stand at the sideline and watch the fun.. :)

siddhu - lol.. yea! maybe the ISI's just a fabrication of some fertile indian political minds to blame for everything! ;)

ruhey said...

really wieeeeerrrddd
I must say...
1 tip:
next time chooose a better tapri..or just give xact change
:p

Arnold said...

ruhey - kinda hoping there wont be a next time.. but it's me! these are just the sort of things that are always happening to me... :)