Friday, December 19, 2008

Dilli Ka Thug : Part 2

Here goes the analysis of the first incidence in the Tricks-of-Trades series.

I turned. It was him.

Statistics:
When I look back, I think he had me even before I left my cab. Trying to talk to me in Marathi sealed the deal because you don’t hear that language a lot in Gurgaon while walking on its streets. In my office there was just one Maharashtrian, most of the outsiders were Bengali, Tamil & Telugu. What I failed to see was that he was targeting a “niche” market. He just needs one catch in maybe two-three nights since that catch can be milked handsomely. No point asking 5-10 rupees to fifty people.
It should be easy to picture Casanova paying all his attention to a single lady in the ballroom; the pretty damsel is flattered imagining herself to be the object of his attention. Casanova would much rather take her to bed with him that night than trying to get a peck on his cheeks from half the women in the room.
I suited the thug’s target profile very well. He wouldn’t waste his time on middle-aged men. Approaching women at night isn’t a very good idea. He would try his hand on younger folks like me. A lot of office cabs used to stop there. He would approach outsiders (I clearly didn’t look like a Jat or a Sardaar) and then try his luck with the language .The subject who is unaware of the well-thought sampling process is prone to fall for it if he speaks the same language. 20-25 me ek to fit ho hee jaayega.

Repeatability:
We must consider both the dimensions: Space and Time here. He cannot operate at the same place regularly. He has to have breaks and shifts. That day when I saw him again, he had to leave the place immediately when I demanded my money and threatened to call the police. Of course he feigned ignorance and I didn’t have a case strong enough to be proved or to be proud of. There was an old Indian playing similar trick with me in Manhattan when a colleague interrupted in between and repeated the thug's story. That colleague was a victim of the “Old Dr. Patel from California” whose luggage was lost by the airlines and money stolen. Dr. Patel immediately retreated.
Also, not all locations suit his operations. The place should be public, inside or very near to a market in the neighborhoods where young migrants stay.

Risks and Returns:
There is no doubt that for most of the thugs, this activity is just one of the side businesses. Some of them could be in fact be day-workers. There is a lot of competition too. As the comments to part1 suggest, many of them try similar stories. The entry-barrier, as they say in economics, isn’t too high. What this means is that they had to negotiate and divide the areas amongst themselves and maybe share the proceeds too in some cases. Still without doubt, the supply market for them is huge and growing.
Another outflow of income might be going to the Police in his operating zone. A Thulla knows one when he sees one. So the thug has to hedge his risks by bribing. Anyway, it is hard to prove the charge even if you catch him. Another major factor which leads to reduction in his risk is shame/embarrassment of the victim. Even the colleague in Manhattan just threatened Dr. Patel with a call to police; all three of us knew he won’t be doing that.
This phenomenon is somewhat parallel to what happens when a girl is teased by a bunch of sadak-chaaps. She doesn’t raise an alarm and might even thinks that it is somehow her fault; maybe the lipstick is too dark or the jeans too tight. She is ashamed to draw further attention. {Come to think of it, I have been saved of many vices simply due to inabilities. I can’t whistle loudly enough to make a girl turn. Not really sure whether a wink would have the desired effect when it comes from the eyes behind the spects. I didn’t take to smoking because when friends tried to teach me, I would consistently wet the cigarette; this irritated them to no end which resulted in a lot of cussing. I, being a self-respecting man at that age, gave up. } Let’s not digress any further.

Preventive/Corrective actions:
Each man being has his moments when given the circumstances he can be taken advantage of. Not very different is the case for a woman too. So what do we do apart from being alert and asking more questions?
Such thugs take advantage of the kindness in people. So do we stop being compassionate and close the door to the ones who really might be in need. There is a well known term in economics for such situations: “Asymmetric Information”. The solution here is to help people through trustworthy and efficient channels. Also you must realize that you are not God and don’t have the capability of lifting the whole world out of its misery.
Let me say a few good things about myself since it’s my blog. I sponsor a child’s education here. I told them not to tell me about my student, since then I would be doing this only for say a girl named Seeta rather than a girl named XYZ. This is being slightly mean and selfish on my part, but as Prashant Dhanke once said: Everyone is self-centered; it’s the radius that matters :). I redeem all my credit-card points to CRY. Now I can say “NO” with a little less guilt.

9 comments:

Sanjay said...

You seem to be getting better & better. Amazing post .

Gaurav said...

Hey, Is that quote really yours ?? Awesome dude!!

Kanchan D said...

simply " clap ! clap ! clap ! " awesome analysis and amazing quote.

pravu said...

And not to forget that they play on simple assumptions that we usually make in our lives. We think begging is linked to torn clothes, stealing to snatching and hustling to mere shopping. For example, we will not be paying more than 1/3rd of any price at Palika market, Delhi but we will feel awkward to bargain with a near by sector shop beyond a level. These inherent assumptions allows them to buy us a snatching story in a well dressed family of actors and steal in the form of begging.

partywithneha said...

Hi..Thanks for adding my blog to your network. BTW I tried adding yours to mine but getting an error each time.

ACP said...

Awesome post...
and thanks for adding my blog(the other me) to ur network..
i too like ur blog... kepp posting..

Moha's said...

A nice post...the ever green thekedaar story I am used to listen to everywhere in Delhi and even here in chennai over the years. I run into one such character every year lolz...never gave any money... Delhi and Dad taught that when I was a kid :).
Will read more of your blog over time. Also the airhostess...incident....lolz...

Prashant Dhanke said...

@Moha,
Glad that you liked it.
I tried accessing your blog; its restricted :).

Moha's said...

yeah...i have blocked the one on blogspot.... was one from college...contained nothing but some crap :D...
Am not much of a blogger man...
i think u have checked my blog at wordpress....
highwaves.wordpress.com
through indie bloggers... thats me... :)