Truth is stranger than fiction
By Meena Sanyal
Retired IT Project manager, World Bank, Washington DC, USA
Foreword by Venkat
A fruit in its various stages is potent with different qualities and benefits ideal for each stage. In its raw form, it is sour, perfect for pickles and in its ripe form, it is sweet, perfect for quick energy and the palate. Experiences and our views are no different. They bring a multitude of meanings over time and in differing contexts, tease our ever fragile temperament. And often the truth is such a variable that it becomes stranger than fiction! Meena recounts her wonderful experience and the range of moods she inadvertently found herself go through.
Enjoy a rolling trip on the coaster we call truth in the beautiful twists laid in Meena’s expressive style!
Started my career as a physicist at Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Bombay. While there, studied computer science at TIFR and switched over to the then burgeoning computer field. After a couple of years at Tata Burroughs, moved to the Washington area in the US. Worked in the IT department of the World Bank until retirement.
Interests include music of all types, reading, outdoors and cooking.
Truth is stranger than fiction
The incident I am about to narrate happened over twenty years ago; but remains fresh in my mind to this day.
I have been living in the state of Virginia in the United States for about forty years now. During the early years of this millennium, a friend told me about this grand gem and jewelry show in our area that is worth a visit. She said she was totally awed by the variety of stores exhibiting their precious, semi-precious and fancy jewelry. She suggested that I must visit the exhibition for the sheer experience at least once.
She saw that I was not very moved by her suggestion. But since she did not want me to not miss this experience, she sent me a ticket via email. She also sent me some details about the exhibition. The space for the exhibition was humongous of about 130,000 square feet area. She also sent me the list of jewelers who will be at the exhibition.
Just to give you a flavor, I have attached a link to this year’s list of exhibitors.
So, I decided to go and experience the exhibition at least once in my lifetime. When I arrived at the exhibition, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the venue and by the crowd. It felt like half of our town was there at the exhibition. It almost made me feel like it was a crime to miss one of these.
I walked by all the stalls, carefully avoiding the diamond and gold ones since I was not into spending money on those. As I walked past the fancy jewelry stalls, my eyes caught many interesting jewelry and jewelry kits. Many were quite exquisite, different from what I usually see in stores here. I stopped at a few stalls and purchased some jewelry and jewelry kits.
Pleased with my purchases, as I walked towards the exit, I heard my name being called out on the paging system. I had some difficulty in recognizing my name because it was not easy for the announcer to pronounce “Meenakshi Sanyal” correctly. Next time, the announcement was made, I paid close attention and yes, sure enough it was my name that was being called. I was summoned to the customer service area. Needless to say I was perplexed as to why I was being summoned.
As I walked over, I saw a flustered woman and a policeman in uniform watching me. The lady was Chinese and was not comfortable with English. As I drew nearer, she said in an accusatory tone “You took my credit card!”. I was bewildered by the accusation and looked at the policeman. He said, “Ma’am, she thinks you took her credit card and walked away. One of the shopkeepers seems to have told her so. He looked up your name from your credit card information that you provided when you made your purchase.” Astounded and in disbelief, I asked the policeman if I looked like someone who would steal her card. He mumbled that it could be a mistake and said he still would have to search my purse. I willingly let him look through the contents of my purse and sure enough, her card was not there. The policeman apologized and I came out, still feeling outraged with the experience.
I sat in my car, took a few long breaths to calm down. That did not quite help. I decided to look at my purchases hoping that might pep me up. I bent backwards and picked up the five sealed brown paper bags from the back seat. I opened each bag, admired each jewelry item and put them back carefully. When I opened the seal on the fourth bag, what did I find? A credit card! I pulled it out hurriedly and sure enough, it was not mine.
I ran back to customer service where the lady was standing still looking agitated. I ran to the policeman and told him what I found and how. He explained that the shopkeeper must have told her that he had put her card in your bag by mistake and she could not understand it fully nor could she explain it properly. That is why she came across as brusque. The lady was delighted to have her card back and she seemed to understand the gist of what the policeman said and apologized to me. As I walked out this time, I was feeling a mix of emotions, the most overpowering of them all was relief! Phew!
By Meena Sanyal