1 A Lost Simcard

---Kumar Padmanabh, as it happened in Bangalore in Sept, 2013

Internet, for me, has been always in transition stage. Search for a good service provider has been always on. Whenever I walk on the road, my radar starts searching for the bills pasted on the walls of the walkways. It was a busy day in my office. I had a work pending since long in the ICICI bank. I decided to do it during our lunch hour. I crossed the national highway situated in front of my office in Bangalore and reached the ICICI bank. To my delight, I found a makeshift stall of Aircel within the bank premises itself. The post paid 3G offers was very lucrative. The performance of the 3G network as demonstrated by Aircel staff was worthwhile. My driving license and pan card were in my purse, handy for necessary documentation. Finally, I got a post paid simcard and kept it in my pocket and went on to do banking.

Verification department of Aircel was quick. Within two hours of the purchase of simcard, they called me on my mobile to verify my details. I got another call from them confirming that my simcard was activated and ready for use. It was really a busy day indeed. I could not get time to think about the simcard. I kept working till late evening.

Upon reaching home, I wanted to check its performance. I take out the dongle. But, I could not find the simcard in my pocket. I remembered that I kept it in the front pocket of my shirt. It was not there. Then I checked the pocket of my trouser, it was absent. I remember, I have an unusual habit of shuffling the stuff from one pocket to others. So I checked every pocket meticulously. It was not there. I could not find it anywhere. The simcard was actually still intact in its plastic reinforcement which was kept in a small paper packet. It was too small to be kept in a purse. I checked my purse. It was not there too. I finished my inspection but could not locate the simcard. I thought I must have left it in my office and in this way my yet another endeavor for internet ends unsuccessfully. 

It was not only a failed attempt to get good internet service. I lost my simcard. Next day, I went to my office and inspected everywhere. My desk was appearing rather tidy. The dustbin was empty. I thought the housekeeping staff must have thrown it assuming it to be a trash. For a moment, I could not stop blaming the clean-desk-policy of my company. I lost a simcard, it was not a joke. It was already activated. I did not have any details of the simcard; not even its number. I did not have any contact information of the makeshift kiosk from where I purchased it. It was prone to be misused. A sudden restlessness prompted me to visit the ICICI bank premises once again. The makeshift kiosk was not there. I asked the security personnel. They did not have any clue about the Aircel staff. I had no option left. I persuaded myself, the first month bill would solve my problem. I started waiting for the bill patiently.

Time heals all problems. After few days I forgot the incident.

My peace of mind did not last longer. I got the first month bill of the simcard. There was a bill of Rs. 1440. There was no consumption of 3G data. There were almost thousand calls made from that number. Now I had my number with me. I called customer care and blocked my simcard immediately. However, I was afraid! Who used my simcard and how? It could have been used by a criminal or a goon. In this type of situation we are ought to have a bad assumption, always. For that matter, I thought, it could have been used by a terrorist. You never know.
I wanted to confirm who has actually used my simcard. I called on the mobile phone. Oh! It was switched off. I was not sure whether it was blocked from the backend office.

I shared this incident with one of my colleague. He told me to report it to the police. He said that at least I will get due consideration of my pro-activeness in the legal hassle, if at all it would be there. So far, I had no experience of dealing with a police. It was already one month since I lost the simcard. I was afraid for reporting so late. I was worried that police would never consider my genuineness case because it was too late.

I started scanning the bill. There were almost thousand calls made from this number. There was a special number on which calls were made for longer duration, for half an hour and occasionally for 45 minutes also. I thought this person must have been closer to the caller and could give me proper information.

I decided to call back on that number before reporting to police. In response of my hello, the voice of a lady appeared from the other side.

I asked, “Who are you and which place you are staying”.

Lady on the other side kept quiet for a while and then responded, “Don’t make me fool! I know you are the one. ( हम जानते हैँ, आप ऊहे हैँ). Why have you changed your voice. It will not fetch you anything. It has been two days, why did not you call me”.

I was stunned. Humor and pranks do not get value at the time of crisis. I ignored. I decided to call on other number. I chose other most frequently used number.  An elder person picked the call. I was not prepared with my words. I asked, “Do you have anyone in Bangalore. Tell me his name.”

The old man said, “first of all, you called me, introduce yourself”

I said, “I am so and so. I worked for so and so company. I lost my simcard…”

The elderly man cut me short, “this is a wrong number”.

I picked another number. I called on it. I kept explaining what happened to me and what information I wanted.  I failed to get any detail. I called on few other numbers mentioned in bill. None of them considered my genuineness. No one of them listened to me. With every call my impatience was increasing. I was still in my office. My colleagues in the adjacent cubicles were listening to me. They came for the help. They suggested me to pose as a police officer.

Posing a police inspector, I called on the first number again which was used most frequently, I said, “I am calling from electronic city police station. Whose number is this?”

There were two ladies this time. They were laughing. One of them replied, “So, since when you became a Police Inspector. He… he… he… I know you are the one…. he he he… “

I was ashamed, but replied, “See! a mobile phone was stolen and I am calling from a police station. Take it seriously and tell me whether anyone of your relatives are in Bangalore.

“he… he… he… bing…. Brummm…“ Call got disconnected.

Luckily I had a mobile phone app, TrueCaller installed in my mobile phone which can reveal the name from its contact phone number. I checked all numbers available in the bill on TrueCaller. It was originating from Chhapra, Bihar. I remembered, recently, many people from Bihar have been arrested in the connection of terrorist activities. I was getting more tensed.

I called the old man again posing again as a police inspector of electronic city, “please be serious one of the mobile phone was stolen. Please tell me if any one of you is staying in Bangalore. Please tell him to return my simcard… at least”.

Old man replied, “Yes! Mr. Dabloo is staying in Bangalore. He used to call his mother on my number. His mother is staying in my neighbourhood. Oh my God! So he had started doing all these things. He has gone to Bangalore to earn something for his marriage. He informed everyone that he is working as a painter. Did he steal your phone? Anyway, I will inform his mother and I will tell him to call you back”.

Finally, I got the information that I wanted. My simcard was not with a terrorist. I was relaxed. I decided not to mess with the police now. After sometime, I was driving back to my home. I got a call from an unknown number. Bluetooth of my car was on. I picked the call carelessly. A bold and confident voice appeared from the other end, “Yes, sir I am Dabloo. A month back, I found a simcard in ICICI bank premises and started using it. I am getting so many calls from so many people of my village. Why did you call so many people in my village and told them that I have stolen your mobile phone?”

I was never expecting this kind of response. Mr. Dabloo was cheeky and presumptuous. After getting the details of his status quo from the villagers, I thought, he should be humble and mild. He was appearing arrogant. For all the stress I had gone through, I did not want to close the chapter so easily, merely on the phone call. My suffering deserved appropriate reaction. I said, “OK please come to the same bank once again at 12:00 tomorrow, bring the simcard and then we will discuss. Do you know I got a bill of Rs. 1400”. He was purposeful. He immediately disconnected the call.

I could not sleep properly, throughout the night. I kept planning about the worst bashing for him.

Next day exactly at 12:00 I got a call from Dabloo. After a few call to synchronize, I could locate him. He was appearing in his early twenties in a mutilated attire that a painter typically put on. Even before I could start, he started in loud, complaining and conceited voice “What sir! I am a poor painter but I am not a thief. How come you can call to dozens of people of my village and spread the rumour that I am a mobile phone thief. I work hard, do overtime and then earn Rs 500 a day. You spoiled my reputation in my community”. He hurriedly finished his first spell. 

“You keep your Rs.1400/ and please don’t do this mistake once again”, the 24 year Dabloo appended. My plan of bashing him was not working. It  failed miserably. Rather, I was at the receiving end. I came at the back foot and become defensive, yet said, “Then why did you use my simcard to make 1000 calls”.

“So what you will do if you find it at a public place, it is a cool thing anyone can do. Take this 1400 and please don’t do it again with anyone else. Do you know my prospective marriage alliance could break up. My fiancée is so upset? My reputation in my would-be-sasuraal has gone haywire. I found this simcard on the floor near ATM machine in this bank. If I would not have picked it, someone else would have done it. It was lying on a public place. It was your fault, sir”. He was pointing his finger towards the ATM machine where he got the simcard.

Oh! Now I could remember. After the banking, I went to ATM to withdraw some cash on that day. Oh my God! I closed my eyes and realized the shuffling of stuffs that I did while taking out my ATM card. I must have dropped the pouch containing the simcard.

So many questions were popping into my mind. So, none of my call was a waste, really? My each word was given due attention by the villagers? Villagers are typically very sweet. They used to meet each other most often. They know each other personally. Only person from that village staying in Bangalore was Mr. Dabloo. He was engaged and I happened to talk to his fiancée! I also happened to talk to probably the best friend of the fiancée of Mr. Dabloo. I informed them that Dabloo had stolen my mobile phone.  How could his fiancee have withstand the allegation, that too in front of her best friend? Villagers must have discussed this issue. The families envious of Dabloo and his mother, must be making fun of him. How would Dabloo have been managing all this since yesterday, that too, when he really did not steal a phone. I started believing that his cheeky behaviour was legitimate and his arrogance had a sense of genuineness. For me, it was just a simcard and loss of few rupees and a worry whether it was used by a criminal. However my multiple calls to the village would have proven him a mobile phone thief, almost!
I turned more defensive, I said, “Ok take this money back, return my simcard and tell me how can I help you?”

“I don’t bother about anyone else, Sir! But can you please call my fiancée and explain the goof up and tell her that I am not a thief”.

“Yes, I can do that. I can call her. Do you want me to call her now”.

"Yes, sir! you should do it immediately".

With lots of guilt and with intention to clear the mess, I called on the most frequented number. From the other side a feeble voice of the same lady appeared, “Saar! did he return your mobile phone”. A humor was missing this time.

Her voice was shabby and mild. She was seemingly appearing alone. I was embarrassed. Now I could realize that she did not want to let her friend know that her would-be-husband was a thief, a mobile phone thief. Her strange behavior during my first call had a reason, I realized. I kept quiet for a while. I had to reply her question whether he had returned my phone.
“Yes” I explained her, “it was not the mobile phone, merely the simcard!" I explained the whole goof up systematically.

When I finished explaining, the lady on the other side started crying. I could hear her moaning. I handed over the phone to Mr. Dabloo. It was an emotional moment, even for me. He went ahead to an isolated place and talked for a while. He returned back, wiped his eyes and returned my phone. I wanted to talk to him. He ignored my gesture and went away briskly, probably, the reputation of a 24 year old Painter, a daily wage worker was restored with full glory.

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