It took just five seconds for the three-storeyed building to completely come down, releasing a thick plume of black smoke.
There are certain privileges one takes for granted, with little thought about those less lucky. One such lot are the street children, who one often brushes off as “nuisance” when they approach passers-by, vending flowers, pens and other knick-knacks. A colleague was touched by an incident at a Metro fast-food kiosk, where a variety of snacks, biscuits, chips, cakes, chocolates and cold drinks are sold.
Three small children approached the stall where our colleague was buying some biscuit packets. When the stall-owner asked what they wanted, they pointed to a large chocolate bar. “Children, that’s for Rs 100,” the man responded.
“How much money do you have?” When the children, the youngest not more than three-years-old, opened their palms, with a few coins in each, the stall-owner called them over to the side door. He then took out three small chocolate bars and handed them to each child.
The price of the chocolate bars was obviously much more than the money the kids had. But the joy on the faces of the little ones more than made up for the price, the kind man commented as he watched the trio prancing away. Yes, kindly souls do exist, our colleague murmured as she turned away with moist eyes.
Everybody loves to be surprised with some unexpected money. However, a colleague, who received some money, was left wondering if it was worth it after all as it made him the butt of jokes among his family members. It so happened that a parcel sent from Mumbai, marked “Confidential”, was delivered at his house. His family duly handed over the parcel to the colleague when he got back home from office in the evening. Inside the package, he found two cheques, which naturally brought on a broad smile on his face. Seeing this his family gathered around him.
But when he saw the amounts on the cheques, he was left astonished and his family laughing. One of the cheques was made out for Rs 8 and the other 45 paisa! Our colleague could only think that the company, which sent the cheques, must have spent much more in posting them.
Not so long ago, “bartanwalis”, who traded stainless steel vessels for old clothes, shoes, metal and plastic, were a common sight. This barter trade, where deals were struck after hours of haggling, was useful in getting rid of old clothes. Today, one is either stuck with cupboard full of old clothes or donates them to the maid or charity organisations. The same is now becoming true of mobile phones, lap-tops and other electronic goods. Thanks to fast changing technology, most people have more than one device, which are replaced quite often.
The old devices, just like our old clothes, are quickly piling up. A few companies have opened drop-off points for the old devices but many do not want to discard for free a perfectly good electronic item. A colleague came upon a junk dealer in North Delhi who has come up with a novel idea. The dealer goes around the neighbourhood asking for discarded electronic devices, including phones. In their place he gives a plastic tub, offering his customers a good choice of various shapes, sizes and colours. How he would dispose the devices is a different issue but a barter trade certainly seems a good deal for quite a few people.
Commenting on the spate of construction in any city, an official quipped, “Engineers run this country. Politicians and the media are under the delusion that they do!”
Contributed by: R V Smith, Rakesh Kumar, Nitin Malik and Asha Ramachandran