Friday, December 17, 2004

Picking the pockets
I am staying in Bangalore with my cousin sourav who is probably my closest cousin even though from what I recall he is my fourth(?) cousin - I believe his mom's grandmom and my mom's grandmom were sisters - so much for the family tree.

Yanyway while chatting with him last night the story of the pickpockets in our locality in Kolkata came up. now I stay on the junction of an area called Lord Para (there is nothing Lordly abt the street though) and next to Lord Para is Handi Para. Over the years the two streets have famously fought with each other on everything (from cricket matches to door latches) - bottomline they dont get along too well (and that is definite subtlety).

Now Lord Para is next to the main road and the main road is regularly witness to pickpockets. These pickpockets when caught become the source of entertainment for all the jobless (literally) localities. The first thing that happens on catching a pickpocket is to release the guy whose pocket was actually picked - he is the primary witness and his presence might dilute the rest of the "show". Then the pickpocket is made to sit in some place with a zillion people guarding him. Following this the honchos of Lord Para and Handi Para debate who should get control of the pickpocket - incidentally the pickpocket pleads to be handed over to the police for a much milder punishment. Lord Para claims that the pickpocket was caught in their area and they should keep it while Handi Para invariably claim that the robbed guy (who has already left) is from their area. FInally a deal is struck where both sides get to shower a set of abuses and random punches at the pickpocket. The initial "blow givers" normally get to give a speech that questions the poor chap' motives and warns him of further dire consequences in future. After they are done the second tier honchos get their chance of beating the poor chap up - this is followed by some onlooker who suddenly claims that the pickpocket abused him (though the guy can barely speak at that point) and lands a few blows himself - that's his share for waiting so long. All this and the pickpocket is then left. Rumors say that often the final blow comes from the pickpocket's accomplice who starts a raucus to create a diversion. The whole things is treate dlike a little entertainment bonanza in the locality and the good for nothing modern ethical freaks like me play a silent observer to the whole thing and later blog abt it.

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