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A Tale Worthy Of A Book

, , , , , , , | Right | August 3, 2021

My father has taken me to public libraries every weekend since I was almost three. It used to be a long walk, but I enjoyed looking at books. My schooling was in English and the books were in my first language, so I could not read much until about eight. The public libraries did not carry a lot of English books.

When I was about ten, we moved to a neighborhood where the public library was less than five minutes’ walk from my home. It was open for three hours in the morning and evening. Every evening, I would rush to the library soon after school. Usually, I would be there within five minutes of opening. Their usual practice was to set up periodicals first as evening newspaper readers would start coming in. Instead of waiting for them, I would just start dusting the kids’ section seats and turn on the lights and start my reading.

The librarian was the kind of man who just did not look approachable. I used to hear him being hard on people who had late returns or spoiled the books, and he used to be curt with my father when he joined me on Sunday mornings, so ten-year-old me was scared of this man.

Every day, fifteen minutes before the actual closing time, they would start announcements and ask people to vacate. The first few days, I just did not understand why someone would make me leave fifteen minutes early. And since I did not have a library card, I could not take my half-read books with me. I would simply put the book back and go back home. After a few days, the librarian must have silently observed my long face, because he started making announcements about closure only in other sections.

The housekeeper lady would just smile at me and leave the lights on just enough for me to read while they tidied up the rest of the place and did their closing activities. This gave me another ten minutes to read. Five minutes before closing, I would straighten the books in the kids’ section and join them in locking up. Very soon, in my head, I had become a part of their opening and closing team! Every Sunday, I would proudly walk in with my father as if I were taking him to my own place.

We lived in that house for about five years and I had read most of the books in the kids’, young adult, and basic science sections. The librarian, still curt and limited on words, had started to smile at me. He would simply point at new books and smile at my brightened eyes. If I missed going to the library, the housekeeper lady would be worried and ask why I had missed my routine. When we were moving, the librarian gave an additional borrower’s card to my father’s account and asked me to use it. We did not move far off and my aunt lived near the library, so I went back there at least twice a week.

The next year, when I turned sixteen, the librarian asked me to get my documents and registered me for my own borrower’s account and penned my name on my first-ever library card. That day was pure joy for me and him. During my college days, I would go there if I wanted some quiet place to study. He’d simply give me reading room keys and let me be. I knew the library layout very well and sometimes helped other patrons, too. When they closed for maintenance activities, I would join them for housekeeping tasks. They both knew they just couldn’t get rid of me!

Then, life happened. I moved places and lost touch with that library. The last time I was in that neighborhood, I saw a new librarian and heard that the old man had retired and they have smart cards now.

I still love books, all thanks to my dad, that silent librarian, and the sweet housekeeper lady. I still have that card with the librarian’s handwriting!

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Will Not Keep Your Opinions In The Interior

, , , , , | Right | October 19, 2020

I work as an architect and interior designer and have an amazing set of clients, but then there are always the occasional few who make you question your own sanity.

This particular client is my late father’s friend and he loves to keep reminding me of that. He approaches me about renovating his house.

Client: “Can your contractors do it in a minimal budget?”

Me: “I’ll get back to you when I’ve checked how much the requirements will cost. Give me about three days.”

Client: “You don’t understand the urgency! I’ll be taking only the designs from you, and I will hire my own contractor.”

This particular contractor has a big male ego and does not listen to a word I say, since I’m a woman. Unsurprisingly, it does not work out and the client has to come around and ask for my contractor.

Client: “Hey, so how much will your contractor charge to renovate the kitchen?”

Me: “It will cost you around $2300 and maximum $3000.”

Client: “Oh, $2300 works for me.”

Me: “It can go up to $3000, since the requirements are more.”

Client: “Okay, please try to keep it minimum.”

Me: “Sure.”

The work starts, and in the course of time, he comes to me with very high demands and expects the budget to remain well within the initial quote. I somehow manage to hold the budget at $2800 and am glad that it didn’t go above the initial quote.

On sending the invoice, I get a call from him and he is furious. I keep the call on speaker so that my partner can listen to this, as well.

Client: “You told me that it will cost $2300 and now you say $2800! Who the f*** do you think you are, trying to scam me?!”

I am quite alarmed but still manage to talk calmly.

Me: “I would appreciate it if you didn’t take that tone with me. I already told you earlier it could go up to $3000 and it’s come below that. I don’t know how much more I can help you.”

Client: “You have no sense of business and don’t know how to work professionally! You guys are incompetent and I won’t recommend you anywhere. You clearly don’t remember anything. You told me it’ll cost $2600 and maximum $3000 and now you say it’s $2800. How big a fool do you think I am?”

My partner comes over and speaks in a very calm yet stern voice, as I am speechless from the sheer stupidity.

Partner: “A big one. Please understand how basic math works and then call us. If you do not pay us, we will be suing you as we have everything on record with us. You have been extremely rude to [My Name] and she has been patient because you are her father’s friend. If you call her again and take the same tone, I will file a complaint against you for harassment and fraud. Do you understand that?”

Client: “Uh… but… uh… um… bye.”

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Making An Offer No One Could Refuse

, , , , | Working | September 25, 2020

Around fifteen years ago, I am traveling around India with a friend of mine from graduate school. He is Japanese and I’m a white male from the US. It is the last call at the bar, and it is time to head back to our hotel. We summon a taxi and are on our way.

I am a little nervous because the ride is taking longer than I anticipated; something about the driver seems shady. My suspicions are confirmed when, halfway through the trip, the driver asks if we want to meet some girls.

Prostitution is not a slap-on-the-wrist crime in India. But since we are foreigners staying at a very fancy hotel — the kind with security out front — he knows we have money. Also, at the time, Japanese tourists have a reputation for being inexperienced travelers and for not being able to hold their liquor.

I tell the driver no thanks. The driver won’t take a no from me as a final answer, so he directs his question to my friend, who just laughs. The driver asks him again.

Friend: “What?”

He looks confused.

Me: “[Friend], say no.” 

Driver: *Loudly* “Do you want to meet girls?”

Friend: “I don’t understand!”

Me: “[Friend], say no!”

Driver: *Yelling* “Do. You. Want. To. F***. Some. B****es?”

There is a pause.

Friend: “Ohhhhhh! No, thanks!”

He laughs.

The rest of the very circuitous trip is spent in silence. I am on edge, but my friend just seems drunk.

When we get to the hotel, the driver announces the price, which is at least twice what it should be. I am about to go ballistic on the driver when my friend holds up one finger, indicating for me to stop, and speaks, dead sober and with a smile on his face. 

Friend: “You have a choice. You can either take [two-thirds of what the fare should be] and go away, or I’m going to go speak to the police officers over there by the front door, and I will tell them exactly what you offered us.”

The driver took what my friend offered.


This story is part of our Best Of September 2020 roundup!

Read the next story in the Best Of September 2020 roundup!

Read the Best Of September 2020 roundup!

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They Get It; Communication Is Key

, , , | Related | September 6, 2020

During our dating days, my husband and I talk a lot. After our parents get introduced and approve of our relationship — yeah, that approval is kind of essential here — we are on the phone almost the entire day.

I have just finished college and my job is not starting for another few months, and my husband is self-employed, managing his father’s construction business. He has a separate business phone, so we do not have a problem being on the phone for the entire day. We take a break only when either of us goes to the bathroom or his business phone rings!

Whenever my mother wants to talk to me, she has to sign to me so that I can pause our talk and then talk to her. She finds it a bit amusing that we talk so much.

One evening, he comes to my place after work just to spend some time with me and my family. One thing leads to another and we start talking about our never-ending phone calls.

Mom: “You both are on a call almost always. I have never seen anyone talk this much.”

Husband: “Yeah, we like to spend time with each other. I can’t see her while at work, so it’s kind of nice being on the phone.”

Mom: “But what exactly do you both talk about? What do you have so much to discuss or share about? I’m not prying; I’m genuinely curious.”

Husband: “Do you watch TV serials?”

Mom is thrown off by this odd question.

Mom: “Yeah, a few of them. Why?”

Husband: “Yeah, can you tell me the story of any one of them?”

Mom: “…?”

Husband: “No, right?! Our talk is like that; it goes on for years, and you know the central plot but can’t really say what the story is all about!”

Starting the next day, my mom stopped attempting to talk to me while I was on calls with him! It has been twelve years since this incident; we still talk a lot. If we are not together, then we call each other at least once an hour and talk for a few minutes at least. Our families make good-natured fun of our phone conversations as the best running TV serial ever!

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23 Crazy Stories About India! – The Not Always Right World Tour!

, | Right | August 15, 2020

Dear readers,

It’s time to continue the Not Always Right world tour! Last time, we visited The Philippines, and before that Brazil! Today, to coincide with Indian independence day, we’re visiting India! (Duh!)

India is a HUGE country, with cultures and sights as diverse as one can expect with a population of 1.3 billion people. The music, the sights, the cuisine, and the film industry (Bollywood, baby!) are well-known and celebrated all over the world, and we challenge anyone to not find one example from that list they don’t like.

We’ve gone through our archives to find 23 stories about India, set in India, or about people who really need to know where India is on a map. We hope our continued world tour helps fight ignorance, celebrate cultures, and give you a great time while you pour some Darjeeling and settle in for a fun read!

 

Don’t Have Beef With Hinduism – “Pandering to locals” is also called… good business.

Yeah, But Our Delhis Come With Salami – Some Americans don’t necessarily claim New Jersey…

It’s Okay, That Character Was Tone Deaf Anyway – Music doesn’t make a film “family-friendly.” Have they seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

(more…)

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