we’ve had requests to provide a bit more of an explanation.
So this was over seven years ago, maybe a few months after she’d started at ‘Moksha Manor’. good old enlightenment street! She came every day for two hours, had to make lunch and a range of other jobs for the princely sum of 1000 Rupees per month. In theory with one days holiday each week.
Starting from the top left and working clockwise in a sort of spiral. Some jobs were daily, weekly or monthly…
floor sweeping, sink cleaning, pooja, dusting pictures, cooking, cleaning work surfaces, tables, f (special one this, looking after her skin. she was having a reaction to something, it worked out to be the sun, after a few false trails), watering flowers, cleaning toilets (yes cleaning toilets, more on that one later), being friendly to the dog, teaching me Kannada (big failure there, on my part, obviously) feeding the dog when I’m not there and bathing her, washing clothes, daily time keeping, cleaning the grills (anti crime and Monkeys) at the windows, floor cleaning, dusting and washing shelving in ‘hall’, cleaning bathroom. Clearly this was also supposed to be fun! and there were a few other more complicated concepts such as trust 😉 believe it or not and it did take the involvement of a few friends but we even managed to discuss egalitarianism (using different words, obviously) so what had she let herself in for?
Manjula’s tailor friend may have found a prospective husband. For her daughter. Current view is 90% likely. Check.
Mangala, our main cleaner (Narianappa her father and our gardener has recently died. Check previous outings) No longer has her father to represent her interests with her useless husband. He doesn’t work, lazes about and demands money for drink. Well she got to the end of her tether so beat him up. The girls are now laughing as he hobbles around with the help of a stick and moans about his bruises.
As Kamlama is now somewhere in Coorg, check Manjula has found a new cleaner. We need to have absolutely trustworthy staff, not least because I leave things around the house but of course we have many guests who must feel comfortable sharing our home. Well Manjula decided to test her and left some money out which promptly disappeared. Next day Manj asked her if she’d seen it and Mangla (yes same name as other cleaner) professed no knowledge about it. So ‘soft cop’ Manjula informs poor young girl that there are CCTV camera in the house that the boss aka ‘hard cop’ (yes that’s me, unlikely as it might seem) will check the computer when he gets back from abroad. Miraculously, as you might expect, poor girl finds it under the fridge! I’m just an observer in these things and don’t condone any particular methodology but we have to work out the best we can in the circumstances.
A friend of M’s mother has died so she’ll get over to pay her last respects who will be laid out outside the house and take to the Chamundi Hill bottom where there’s a field for the funeral pyres.
We have Indian guests from Delhi and Chennai this weekend and will all gather for dinner at Hotel Roopa this evening.
Good friend Vinay reckons I’m a closet BJP supporter. I don’t eat beef, love India and now have a lotus tattoo.
I don’t! I’m not!
Lucy just hangs around. I thought it was because she missed me during my trip to the UK. Far from it, it’s just too bloody hot. Manj wants AC and demands to go away for months next year!
It was not an unusual type of telephone enquiry for a room at the BnB. An Indian woman travelling with her ten-year-old son required a room for the following day and for a total of four nights.
We did have a room so I offered to send details to her email address so she would know what to expect. It’s our usual practice. She explained that she would be unable to read the email  but she’d seen us on the net so knew what to expect. She followed up by sending a text with her name, she was a Doctor 
Next morning I received a phone call from her with some urgency and concern. Could I recommend the best hospital in Mysore? She’d had an accident in her car and her son was injured. They were in a country area, quite a way from Mysore. She’d dealt with his immediate needs and where they now were didn’t have the facilities to treat her son’s condition. It sounded more serious than I first thought. They would need to transfer to Mysore. I recommended the Columbia Asia Hospital.
Beyond that, it was unclear, it seemed like she was now separated from her car, it was I assumed, badly damaged.
Of course, I was shocked and concerned and willing to help wherever I could.
A little later she telephoned again. She had contacted the Mysore hospital and was making arrangements for the transfer. It was all a little hurried and she was understandably panicky and not always making a lot of sense.  Someone had kindly covered the bill but she needed some help, to pay him back. Her money, cards etc were left in the car or taken by someone. Her mother was to call me from North India to explain things.
Her Mum was understandably concerned and was planning to get down here from Assam. That would be no easy task. She’d been unable to pay the guy who had helped out by paying the bills, could I help?
There was a bank strike where she was and didn’t have all the details of his branch (the IFSC No) so it wasn’t possible to do a transfer via the internet. It could, however, be paid into a branch of his bank. Of course, I’d be willing to help, she’d transfer 1 lakh to my account and from it I’d pay 40,000 Rs  cash into this guy’s account and the rest would be available for her daughter to use for the hospital bills etc here in Mysore. All I had to do was send my bank details, for some reason she couldn’t retrieve them via my suggestion of an Email  so I’d send them via text/sms. Not a problem.
Her daughter calls to give me an update. She’s so apologetic for putting me through this and having to ask for my help. She’s contacted Doctor xx in Columbia Asia and they need to get her son there to see the neurologist. Getting the money quickly is critical, so they can get away.
This was clearly a middle-class professional family with exceptionally good English but one of the problems, beyond the obvious concern for her son, was not knowing the local language and being in a relatively rural area.
I receive a text from Mum, as sent from her bank , the cash had been transferred.
Mum calls again. The money has left her bank but it might take a couple of hours to reach my bank.
I reflect. It’s no problem for me to sort out, I’m always happy to help wherever I can, I have cash here or money in the Bank, I don’t have to wait for it to come through, I can zip over there on the scooter in no time at all.
This is all quite urgent.
Hang on a minute, though.
I have a niggling doubt.
Is this a con? I don’t want to think it is and I most definitely don’t want to let them down if it’s legitimate. They are in a potentially difficult and maybe life threatening situation.
I think it’s important that we do help people, particularly if they are in distress. It’s only human and to me an important value.
But, there were a few aspects that didn’t ring true (I’ve numbered some of them above) and if it was a scam, it was clever and sophisticated or am I just gullible? I discussed it with Chris and Eliza who are staying at the BnB. Initially, I still felt it was likely to be legitimate but the more I thought about it, the more the doubts grew.
I easily found the missing Bank (IFSC) reference number and texted to pass it on and suggested that the Mum could send the money direct to his account. If she sent me her bank details I could send back what wasn’t required here in Mysore. I was calling her bluff!
It’s now the evening and its all gone quiet. Thankfully I held off and my doubts were confirmed. There’s been no further contact and the money hasn’t appeared in the bank.
At this distance, it might seem to you that it should have been obvious. It wasn’t then but to me it does seem so now. In many ways, it was cleverly done. But the fraudsters must get results otherwise they wouldn’t try it on.
So there it is, it takes all sorts and I think it is a sad thing.