Here’s what I just wrote to the egroup (bngbirds) of the Bird Watchers’ Field Club of Bangalore just now:
I’ll be writing about the very enjoyable 2nd Sunday birding outing, especially with the children and teachers of Sri Vani School of Magadi Road….but before that, I have to tell you about events that unfolded just after we dispersed.
When going back, I realized that the "birding bag" I carry (binocs, bird book, water bottle, camera, sketch pad) had been mislaid, and we narrowed it down to the area where we had seen the Spotted Owlet (near the Bamboo thicket). When we went back there, we found a group of people clearing up the dead leaves. We asked them if they had seen a bag, and they shook their heads…but something about their denial made us suspicious. On pressing further, they said they did have the bag, and while Dr Sanjeev Managoli quickly phone the police, they produced the bag.
I just returned from Coorg yesterday evening, so my purse containing all my credit cards, driving licence, and a fair amount of cash, had been in the bag. I found that the purse was missing. My bag was full of dead grass….and the credit cards and driving licence had been taken out of the purse and put in the bag.
We told the cleaners this, and said that we would not move from there unless they produced the purse. When an inspector and a constable arrived on their Cheetah bike, things started getting interesting, with the contractor telling us that if we "did not make a scene" he was responsible for the recovery of the purse. One man then got into the lorry, and magically produced the bag from the pile of dead leaves. Relieved, I gave him Rs.100, which I was carrying in my pocket, as a reward…and then opened the purse.
It was fortunate that I knew exactly how much money was in the purse, because I found that about Rs.3000 was missing from the purse. We told the police this….I was really scared by this time that they would start beating up the man who had been talking in great and unnecessary detail, about how the bag had been open, and so on. But a little threatening, followed by a period when we let the contractor talk to the group, worked wonders. The money, folded just as I had kept it, was brought out from the waist pouch of one of the ladies. As I had withdrawn the amount just the previous day from the ATM, I knew the serial numbers and they matched. We did not press charges….after all, I felt, we had been careless ourselves, and such money would be a temptation….and we left. The police refused to take any money from us, and we thanked them profusely.
The whole process…took about an hour and a half of, alternately, waiting and conversation.
So…if you happen to leave your belongings behind….DO ask the people around, without hesitation. And do call 100 on your phones….the "cheetah" police do arrive, and are very effective in recovering the lost articles/currency.
I am deeply grateful to Dr Sanjeev Managoli, who acted so promptly in both making the phone call, and who also insisted that we must stay until everything was recovered (when I saw that my credit cards and driving licence were in the bag, I was willing to write off the money and leave)….and who made sure that these people got the message that dishonesty might have bad consequences. Without his determined course of action, I do not think I could have even got the bag back, let alone the cash. Thank you, Sanjeev! Thank you also to Apoorva, Kannan, and Bhavita, who ignored their hunger pangs and stood by me throughout.
OK, I’ll write about the delightful morning we had, with the children of Sri Vani School, experienced birders like MBK , Subbu, Swamy, Ranjini, and others, the shutterbug brigade of Wide Angle who sort of came along, too……and new people like Rohan-the-bird-cartoonist who joined the BWFC outing for the first time….after I post the photos to Facebook!
Cheers, from a relieved-at-not-having-been-relieved of cash