Conmen - Then and Now

May 7, 2014

Sometime ago, a Coder who works for Kudla Computers alighted in front of his office premises from an auto rickshaw and paid his fare. It had earlier rained cats and dogs, but now ceased completely of its meows and bow wows. As he was about to move away, something underneath his rainy shoes drew his attention. He bent and picked it up. “Whew! It’s a tablet”, he exclaimed gleefully. It had somehow magically surfaced due to the torrential rains. Tablets interest geeks, so this stone tablet naturally evinced his interest. He wiped off the wet mud and voila, an obscure code manifested across the tablet. He was actually standing on a primitive goldmine. 

As the Coder was enamored of codes, he quickly slipped it into his briefcase. He rejoiced as he walked away thinking he discovered a billion dollar code to grab even Bill Gates’ attention. In the days that followed, using all his coding methods and skills, he began to decode the pictorial script, but could not decipher a single object no matter how much effort he expended. It was an ancient serious language unlike the funny languages of computers.

Unsuccessful, he was forced to abandon his adventure on his chanced find since he had official commitments to fulfill aside from the fact that the Coder with buggy moral code had been two-timing his girlfriend that made him extremely busy in life dividing time between work, recreation and two girlfriends.

Both the girlfriends at different times and different places liked the stone tablet, but felt it did not make an interesting date gift. At the second girlfriend’s suggestion, he attached the big tablet to a small thank you note and gifted to Mrs Corporator who had done a medium favour for his second girlfriend. 

Unfortunately, this gift was not able to make 'grah pravesh' into Corporator’s house as her house was already chock-a-block with loads of small thank you notes with big gift attachments. Nonetheless, she thought it made a fantastic gift item for Independence Day which was fast approaching. Mrs Corporator had it beautifully polished, careful not to tamper with the text, and gift-wrapped. She then personally delivered it to Mr MLA on 15th August wishing him Happy Independence Day. As Mr MLA unveiled the gift, he dropped the tablet to the floor out of sudden shock. Fortunately, it did not break as it wasn’t a Chinese import and was made in India.

Mr MLA was not amused. He was so peeved at Mrs Corporator’s zany sense of humour that he decided to bang it solidly on her head and extract her comic brains and exhibit them in the Mangalore Museum. Anyway it was a day of total freedom to do what one wished. Mr MLA was ticked off because the stone tablet had no screen unlike the conventional tablets which enable one to watch sleazy videos. “Why couldn’t she give me an Apple Tablet instead?” he murmured. 

Mrs Corporator’s head was miraculously saved as she had already left by then with her most precious head on her neck. No one, not even her Hair Dresser is aware that hidden beneath her shock of black hair, on the skull, is a birth-script that read LONG LIFE just the way on milk tetra packs.

When the MLA regained his composure, he peered into the stone tablet and a sudden thought struck him. Rarest of rare item could be used to perform wonders, he thought to himself. 

He took it to the next Vidhan Sabha session. In there, hours and hours, days and days were spent discussing on it, but nobody could read the ancient text (some of the MLAs couldn’t even read and write their own languages which is being mentioned here within brackets in order to keep them out of this humour, because they are illiterates anyway). 

One brilliant MLA came out with a super brilliant idea that this could be a cursed tablet buried under for centuries, which was why the road works in Karnataka dragged on for years apart from an abnormal number of road accidents taking place at all times.

Oudhu Basava Oudhu. All MLAs nodded in agreement. They unanimously decided to sneakily transfer this curse to another state and hence they handed it over to Mr MP, who in turn took it to the Lok Sabha where it was discussed lengthily for days and weeks, but none could make head and tail of it. 

Yet the legislators knew that this great archaeological find is something of great significance. Shobhan Sarkar, a holy man, had dreamt of 1,000 tonnes of gold buried beneath Ram temple, which was never unearthed. But here they had an ancient tablet which could be worth more than tonnes of gold. One MP suggested it be sent abroad for translation. But others opposed saying that India had already lost Koh-i-Noor Diamond and they couldn’t afford to lose another treasure. 

So they spent state coffers and hired the hieroglyphs experts from Egypt who flew into Delhi and began decrypting the text. In the process, they ate tonnes of tandoori chicken and drank gallons of masala chai. Decoding the pictorial text was child’s play for them as if transcribing from the Pitman’s shorthand to Arabic by a Stenographer in Cairo. 
The Arabic text was translated into English, then to Hindi, then to all regional languages including Kannada, Tulu and Konkani. What turned out from the translation is a sensational story very much pertinent to our times, which in no time spread all over India like wildfire.

When it reached Mangalore, some of the octogenarians who drank gallons of toddy for decades and still living and kicking and thinking blinkingly, used the Toddy Shop Fuzzy Logic to pinpoint the precise place where the incident had taken place. 

The following is the English translation improved upon in Mangalore with the names of the places:
BC 7014, April 14.

The place is exactly where Hampankatta is situated today. And the location of the incident zeroes in where the Mangalore Railway Station exists.

On his hunting trip, a caveman by name Bongda (name changed) bumps into Zingoty (name changed) in the forestry area.

“Peace be with you, brother!” Bongda greets.
“And with you, brother!” Zingoty replies. “I am from the Land of Abundance on my way to the Valley of Tears. Am I on the right path?”

“Yep,” Bongda nods affirmatively. The place is absolutely deserted except the two half-naked souls amidst some wild animals howling and pinging but minding their own businesses. Birds are flitting from tree to tree chirping incessantly.

Instantly, Zingoty catches a sight of Bongda’s clothes. “That’s a nice dress you are wearing.”

“Thank you.” Bongda says happily doffing off the dress at once and handing over it to Zingoty. “My wife stitched and gifted me for my single-handed valiant act of slaying a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

Killing dinosaurs was as boring a subject then as some politician defeating another in the election these days. But the awe-inspiring dress in his hand was something of admiration. Zingoty inspects the dress closely and gets dazzled by it. “Ah, I can see this is made up of goat skin, hem-lined with diamondback snakeskin. I wish this dress was mine.”

“You think I am selling. No way. You will never find a second piece, not even on eBay.”

Zingoty failed to catch the joke, yet he smiles which gets masked by his flowing beard and long moustache. He quietly admires Bongda’s goatee which is something different than the current trend in the Land of Abundance. “No, I’m not on a shopping trip,” he hands back the dress to Bongda, who once again becomes half-naked as he slips into his dress.

Bongda asks inquisitively. “What work do you have in the Valley of Tears?”

“I have a large number of surplus surefire firestones which I wish to donate to someone needy in the Valley of Tears.” (A large number is actually a small number, 49 firestones precisely in this case, as zero had still not been invented then).

“Let me possess them,” Bongda’s eyes flash. In those days, surefire firestones were more valuable than today’s 24 carat gold. “We do have an acute shortage of firestones. When can I collect them?”

Zingoty drops his rucksack on the ground and keeps its mouth open. “It is not that simple, brother. No one gives anything for free even in this flourishing Stone Age. Terms and condition do apply. In order for me to be able to transfer my large number of surefire firestones into your rucksack, you would first need to transfer 4 surefire firestones into my rucksack.”

Instantly, Bongda smells a rat. He pulls out a choicest, shiniest and sharpest spear from his quiver and drives it straight into Zingoti’s heart. Zingoti collapses to the ground giving a loud bloodcurdling scream that frightens the nearby wild animals and birds and they flee for life.

Since it was a time of no internet or portals like Daijiworld to post this fraudulent incident, Bongda gathers the dead body from the pool of blood and hangs it, upside down, on the uppermost branch of a tall tree so that the passersby could witness and learn a life’s lesson. Later, the passing-by cavemen stop by at the site, drop their logs to the ground, look up at the dangling body, understand the reason for his death from the pictorial text inscription of a large tablet hanging on the lowest branch of the tree, comment aloud and some even commenting with abusive language. Finally, they gather their logs and log out of the site. The End!

The Coder’s chanced find proves that the conmen have always existed from the time immemorial to the present day where people still get cheated by such crooks by giving away their money with a hope of receiving a big money in return. This true story further proves that caveman was far more intelligent than some of the modern men, who used his intellect and safeguarded his 4 firestones as against the current generation who easily get swindled. You cannot presume that the cavemen were duffers. They discovered fire, invented the stone tools, wheel, pictorial script, music, cave painting and storytelling. It is the innovator’s DNA of the cavemen that led to the invention of computers, tablets, internet and ATMs which are employed by con artists to easily swindle the gullible.

(This article is a work of fiction)

By Ivan Menezes
Writing has been Ivan's interest since childhood, primarily inspired by three renowned writers in the family. He was published at the age of 14 with an article in Konkani on Watergate scandal, and since then, a number of articles and poems in Konkani and English have appeared in various publications. He has also won prizes for humorous articles in India and Oman. He has been living in the Sultanate of Oman for the past 30 years. He has two sons. As well as reading and writing, he is fond of football, cricket, Hollywood movies, Rock and Country music, Konkani songs, cooking, outdoor camping and traveling.
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Comment on this article

  • Vinita Pereira, Bejai

    Tue, May 27 2014

    Enjoyed reading your article, please keep writing more humourous articles. All the best.

  • Ivan Menezes, Mangalore / Muscat

    Sat, May 17 2014

    The encouraging comments from the well-wishers on my first web article have brought me joyful moments. I thank them for their inspiring words as well as those who read the article. Live life laughingly. Cheers!

  • clara helen, Mangalore, Oman

    Thu, May 15 2014

    Superb article, what a great sense of humor n writing skill u has! Keep up yr. good spirit!

  • Ryner Menezes, Mangalore

    Tue, May 13 2014

    Enjoyed reading a very well written humor piece, Uncle Ivan. Kudos to you. Keep them coming.

  • Clayton Menezes, Mangalore/Bangalore

    Mon, May 12 2014

    Very nicely written, uncle. :). I think the humor and storytelling style runs in the family. Was fixed on the text till the end. Very good style of writing.

    Keep going "buddy"! :)

  • Rony Menezes, Manipal, Muscat

    Sun, May 11 2014

    Hmm! Good one Ivan! Just read and whilst so reading, thought caption was aptly equating Moses and Gates the tablet and so the pranks. However, twist was there conning then and now, that was well said. Good one to begin on this forum and look up for more. You have that articulate flair I know, Congrats.

  • Dominic Savio Fernandes, Mangalore

    Sun, May 11 2014

    Enjoyed reading. At times fiction is better than what we live with enjoy with !!

  • John DSouza, Mangalore

    Fri, May 09 2014

    Conmen - Then and Now is a well written and appreciable article.
    Common men - Then and Now, is an important subject for discussion.
    Then and Now situation and facts are useful for comparison and analysis.
    In fact, a lot has changed in between then and now making a huge impact.
    Based on analytical facts of then and now, a dynamic change is yet to happen.
    The errors identified in between then and now cannot be completely ignored.

  • Fr. Vincent Mewnezes, Cascia

    Fri, May 09 2014

    Dear brother Ivan CONGRATULATIONS. Enjoyed reading rather humorous article. Please carry on the LEGACY of writing. May the Holy Spirit inspire you to write more. All the best.

  • Ivan Frank & Fly, Mangalore

    Fri, May 09 2014

    Ivan nice article. Enjoyed reading it. Hope to see more of your articles in the near future.

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