THE MONEY CHANGERS.
NEW DELHI India.
THE MONEY CHANGERS
Nothing here is true, it couldn't possibly be, it is all made up out of the fragile mind suffering from isolation and too many bottles of expensive shiraz.
Some fool said, money makes money, just about anyone knows that, even me, but who was it who said,
A Secret Was a Secret Only Until You Told
I had just parked the vehicle in the shade under the big trees that grow out the front of the accommodations in Orchard road.
It was another hot and humid day again in New Delhi and I was glad to finally arrive, and at last to able to be out of the coach for a while, I was looking forward to a well earned rest.
I had no sooner closed and locked the door of the vehicle and turned around when I heard my name being called, I looked about and there was Raj.
Raj was the local money changer who over the years, when we visited New Delhi had always given us the best exchange rate for our dollars or pounds.
He was coming through the crowd towards me waving his arms and calling out my name, I could hear him say wait please, Mr Bob I need to talk to you.
I picked up my bags and had only taken a few steps towards the hotel, and there he was beside me saying welcome back to Delhi, Mr Bob.
In the next breath he said, it is most important that we should talk, I must talk with you Mr Bob, in private. I have something to tell you, but in private.
I stopped in the shade of one of the trees growing along the way, and turned to look at him. I said, Raj, I am at the end of a very long tour and now everyone has gone and it will be another twelve days before the new group from Australia arrive.
It has been a long time since I have had a decent night's sleep, and that’s what I'm going to do, sleep, eat and sleep.
When I need to exchange I will find you, you know that, meanwhile I'm going inside to check into the hotel.
Oh, no, no, Mr Bob it is not for that I need to see you, you don’t understand he said, I know about there not being a group, but I need to talk with you, it is most important that I do.
I looked at him and said, it's not that important to me Raj, we can talk tomorrow if you like, say about nine o'clock after I have had my breakfast.
Right now I have only one thing on my mind, that is to have a shower, then to eat and then to lay in my cool room and sleep and then sleep some more.
I will see you tomorrow morning, if you come to reception lounge in the morning, at around eight thirty, nine o'clock, we will have some chai, or coffee.
I had no idea what Raj would want that was so important, we had known each other for several years now and I had found him to be a shrewd business man, as he liked to call himself, and I suppose he was too.
Thinking about it I knew he owned two taxis, one he drove himself and the other had a driver who from time to time had driven me about, but mostly when I needed a driver to go to the various Embassies for visas, if he was available, Raj would do the job.
However I knew full well, he made his money from being a money changer for the tourists that came to stay at this hotel, as well as having many other touters working for him around the area, these touters were to be found outside all of the tourist shops and hotels, everywhere around the city.
It was a very competitive business and sometimes dangerous too, you would be making a grave mistake thinking it wasn't a very serious business.
It was not uncommon for those who found themselves on the wrong street trying to do some business of their own, or for another changer to suddenly find a bloody beating or worse, coming their way.
It wasn't the best sleep I've ever had, but experience told me it would get better as the days passed, always after a long and demanding tour it takes a while to get back to near normal, whatever normal was.
I walked into the lounge area the following morning after breakfast and Raj was waiting for me, when he saw me he stood up and came to meet me, after his greeting and the big smile he said, can we talk in your room please, what I have to say is very, very private, I have been asked to talk with you, by a very important man, a most important man, it is about some business.
Right away, when I heard him say I have been asked, my suspicions were aroused, for he was implying more than just he wanted to talk, I looked at him and said, ok Raj, we will have coffee, or chai first, and meanwhile you can tell me something of what it is you want to talk to me about.
We sat well away from the other tourists, although they were coming and going all the time, finally he said to me in a quiet voice, you have been on the trains, going to Bombay and to Calcutta haven't you.
I was a bit surprised by the question, but I replied that yes indeed I have, several times over the years, why do you ask if I have been on the trains.
He said, it is very complicated, he then asked, when on the trains did you ever notice the beggar men with the bowls that they carry with them everywhere.
I have seen them I said, there were some on every train as I remember although they ride mostly third class sitting on the floor of the carriage, I thought they were holy men, or that’s what I was told.
He laughed, that’s right he said, many are holy men but not all, many are working in many sorts of jobs.
Some he said, are working as I myself work, but in a different way in the money business.
If you don't mind Mr Bob, it would be better to talk away from this place, indicating the lounge area, for it is sometimes not safe, people want to listen.
We sat down in my room and I waited for Raj to say whatever it was he wanted to say, whatever this most important thing was I had no idea, so far all I had heard was about changing money and holy men riding on trains with bowls.
I realised it was best to hear it and be done with it, as I guessed he wouldn't let it go until he had told me whatever it was his most important idea was, I must admit I was now beginning to wonder just a little bit about what it might be myself.
I recalled that several times in the past that a business man in Calcutta had proposed the idea of carrying Indians on a quick run to London, I had told him that I could never consider doing that, and I had my reasons but that is another sorry story, wary be the traveller, that’s my message.
As far as Raj was concerned, I had thought about what his most important idea might be from time to time since yesterday, but nothing came to mind that would need a meeting of this sort, sitting in my air conditioned room so no one could see us or hear whatever it was he wanted to say.
Do you know asked Raj, how many tourist people come to my country each year Mr Bob.
When I said I thought it was many millions each year, the volume I bring is nothing compared to the actual number who visit India as tourists.
This is just the point he said, you bring some, others bring some, many come as couples, some on their own, all this adds up and up and that is what is important to us.
Many millions of tourist come to this country each year, all the time they come, stay a week or two travel around see our wonderful country, and most important they spend our rupee buying things, almost always spending the rupee.
Many get their money changed at the American Express or other suitable places, but soon they need more money, and when they find out they can get more rupee to the dollar or English pound somewhere else, well that is what they do.
Why would you except this much when there is another man happy to give you this much more, to indicate he held up one hand and then two hands, so you see these wise people can almost, maybe, double their money.
I said I suppose I knew all that, although I never gave it too much thought, I have only ever thought of my own passengers, and that’s about it really.
I always prefer cash myself I said, I know a person could always get more Rupee for cash than travellers cheques.
In fact if I'm right sometimes it could be five Rupee for dollar travellers cheque and eight or nine or even ten for cash, right.
That is exactly right Raj said, cash is best, however any foreign money is good, be it travellers cheque or cash.
He said, all over India there are tourists all wanting to change money, and they can, and they do all the time, every day.
Now my friend, Raj said, how do the money changers know what exchange rate to use, let us say, in Bombay or Calcutta or elsewhere In India, they can't just offer any exchange rate, can they, for you must know these changers don’t have money of their own.
It is not possible for them to keep the money for themselves for all the money belongs somewhere and to someone else, other parties, in another place for these changers are small business traders really, I suppose you could say.
They exchange with the tourists cash or travellers cheques for Rupees, but there is always someone giving the instructions to the changers about what they must do, because we know the exchange rate it is not always going to be the same.
There is someone, or perhaps we should say somewhere, where all this foreign money finally all ends up, so very much money, Mr Bob, very, very much money indeed.
Now he said, everyday all over India, there are millions of dollars changing hands from the tourist to the money changers.
That money has to go somewhere and it certainly doesn't stay with those changers who are located everywhere all over India.
Every day that money has to go somewhere, and it does go somewhere.
It can't be put in the bank or sent by a bank for that money doesn't really exist as a trading business does it.
No he said, the money goes for a ride on the trains mostly, for our trains carry many millions of people each day and as you know our trains are always full of people, many people everywhere, all riding the trains going somewhere, and on these trains come and go, the money.
Then these people, the changers, must get money too, so someone must take the money to them, and so it goes backwards and forwards, foreign money one way our Indian Rupee the other.
I wish to explain these things to you so you would understand this is a big business, a very big and important business, but as in all things in life there are also opportunities that come too with this business, opportunities that are safe and legal.
Tomorrow I would like to take you to meet someone who is most interested to meet you, he wishes that you should visit him, he is a most important business man and a most interesting man too.
Finally Raj left my room saying, I will meet you at eight o'clock in the morning I will then drive you to introduce you to my very important friend, I'm certain you will like him very much.
I sat around the hotel most of that day and after a good meal that night went to bed, though I have to admit, I was thinking a little about tomorrow when at last I finally fell asleep.
The following morning I walked out of the hotel and down through the trees and gardens, and there was Raj sitting by his Yellow and Black Morris taxi car, waiting for me.
We said our good morning and Raj said, come we must go now, as it will be very hot today and he is expecting you, we should hurry.
I wasn't sure where we went, if you have been to New Delhi you will know it is a very big city with millions of people and it seems with even more vehicles every day on the road, for they are always bumper to bumper.
There was anything from double decker busses, trucks that are all overloaded, rickshaws all going somewhere and all tooting their horns nonstop, including Raj's yellow and black taxi, all this and a million motor bikes plus all those people on their push bikes weaving amongst it all.
We finally arrived at our destination, Raj parked his taxi in the private car spaces and then led the way into this very modern building, we took the lift up and finally the door opened and we stepped out into a very nice air conditioned office area, where the air conditioning really did work properly.
I stood a moment and looked about, but Raj was off talking to the receptionist, and next moment he was calling me over, then a door opened and there standing was a man of average height, who could have been a European because of his colour however I then realised I could be wrong about that, no matter I thought, it seems this is the man who wishes to talk with me, I will soon find out what he wants to see me about.
He said something I couldn't understand, then indicated for us to follow him and he turned and walked back into his office with both Raj and myself following.
Once inside he was introduced to me by Raj, we shook hands and he said for me to please have a seat, he quickly took command of the situation, firstly to ask if I would like a cool drink or perhaps some tea or coffee.
When I said tea would be very nice, he turned to Raj and asked for him to take care of the order, with that Raj departed and I never saw him again until I left that office much later.
The tea arrived, it was brought in by the receptionist who put it down and departed without a word.
Meanwhile the suit, I will call him the suit, he chatted on about things, including the cricket of which he was very keen and knowledgeable, he knew all the names of the players including the English and Australian teams.
Finally he got around to me and why I thought I was there, he said, you have been coming to our country for some time now with your groups, you are bringing groups of people starting out from England.
Then you are travelling through all those far away countries to arrive finally in our country, they then travel on to their own home countries.
Then you are meeting another group coming out from Australia and you then travel through those far countries with them in your coach back to England, a very long journey, a very long journey indeed.
Now all the time I was waiting to hear about transporting people from India, and how good it could be, plenty of business, and make some money, many Indian people all wanting to travel to the UK, like put 200 people in the one bus, as they do in Delhi and all over India, but I was wrong, it wasn't that at all.
We talked about what I did for some time, until finally, he got to the point of my visit, by way of bring into the conversation the subject of the money changing business, he started out a little like Raj had done, and all this time I still didn't know why I was invited to meet the suit.
He was a very pleasant man and he was easy to have a conversation with, and it seemed obvious he had received a good education, and he looked and dressed as if he was financially well off.
The fittings within the building I had noticed were all very good and his office was no different, it too looked as if they were expensive and far different to the fittings and fixtures in most buildings I had been in while in New Delhi..
He then asked, how much did I really know about the money business, I replied very little except for the obvious, and to be honest I had never given it any thought, that is except what most tourist eventually finds out after they have been here in India a while.
Finally he said, I have something in mind that I think and hope you will find most interesting, however this particular thing is not for the faint hearted and it must remain an understanding between only you and myself.
No one else should hear of this, you understand, he said.
This thing we are about to discuss would not be for others to know about, or for the public interest if you follow my meaning.
I said, that I believe I did understood his meaning, however I still didn’t really know why I was there in his office, and so far I haven't learned anything that would need to be kept a secret from anyone.
I said to him, It seems that you might be considering whether to tell me something or not.
I think I should say to you, that whatever it is told to me, I agree that I won't mention it to anyone.
However I think it fair to say that just because you have mentioned this something to me, doesn't mean I will agree with it.
If that was clear, then he could continue, and I would listen, but only listen and he should not expect an immediate answer to whatever the question might be.
He sat and looked at me for a moment, and then smiled and laughed a little then said, good, very, very good, it is splendid that we understand each other, for if we are to work together it is best it should all, be very clear between us.
Every day, all day, he said, the money comes, eventually it finally arrives at a special place where its counted and sorted, we have many, many people doing this job.
It is a business, a big business and a very well run business, and it has been effectively operating for a very, very long time.
However we have a lot of travellers cheques which have to be cashed, and this can become a slight problem from time to time, and as you well know the travellers cheque is not worth as much as the cash to us here in India.
He looked at me intently for a moment, then he went on to say, just what I have in mind for us to do, is as follows.
We want you to come and do a little work for us, not full time you understand, but just a flight every now and again, and whenever it is possible for you to do so.
I looked at him for a moment and was thinking this is not going where I thought it would go, now he has mentioned flights, not carrying passengers from India, to England in the coach.
He said, I have prepared something that I would like you to look at, and I think it will explain many things to you, more simply than me telling you about it.
With that he pressed a button on his desk and a moment later a female opened a door and looked in, he said something to her in Hindi, she disappeared and a moment later she reappeared with a brief case which she put on his desk and she then left the room.
He said to me, come and look at this if you don’t mind please, and with that he fiddled with the front of the case and then lifted the lid, and when I looked in the case it was full with travellers cheques all in neat bundles.
My reaction to it was, and I said, that is a of a great deal of money in travellers cheques.
That’s so right he said, for you information, in this brief case is exactly ten Lakhs, of US money that is, One Million American Dollars of American Express travellers cheques, collected from the tourists from all over India.
Very soon, he said, we hope it will be the equal of One million Dollars U S , but in in cash.
One million American dollars equivalent in cash, of good American money, that is of course, with your help.
This money is worth to us now, he said just five million rupee, but when in American dollars cash, it could be just about eight or ten million rupee.
This he said is our proposal to you, we would like you to fly out of Delhi and into Switzerland and bank the travellers cheques at a certain bank in that country.
Then you would wait around playing tourist and after the correct period of waiting time, three or four days, no more than seven days.
We want you to withdraw that amount in cash and fly with it back into Delhi, only this time you will bring with you in the brief case, One Million American Dollars in cash money.
That should not be to difficult for you, you are experienced in the tourist business, you have travelled a lot and are a smart man, as you should know, you can put money in a bank in that country and withdraw the money when you wish, once the cheques are confirmed as legal tender.
The fact is we can make rather a big profit on the cash transactions.
We will pay for the airline tickets and some expenses while away in that country, you will not be out of pocket for you too, will profit most handsomely from this journey.
The bank will want a share as transaction expenses which is natural.
The one Million Dollars will be worth 0ne half rupee per dollar to you, this is a great deal of money, you would agree.
The exact amount to you would be exactly five Lakhs, or five hundred thousand rupee.
I sat and looked at him a while, unable to think of anything to say, not that he would want to hear about anyway, for my head was going like a mix master.
That amount of money takes a bit of coming to terms with, especially when at the moment your getting One Pound a day for your troubles.
However when the nerves relented a little and I felt I wouldn't stutter, I then asked, would we be able to have some coffee or tea, would you mind.
I put down the coffee cup, we hadn't said a word for the entire time I sipped the coffee, the brain doesn't always work that well, but well enough to realise one million in signed travellers cheques was one hell of a lot of money, a fortune.
The first question I would like to ask, I said and that is why me why not someone else, why would you ask some one like me to do this thing.
He smiled and said, it is a great deal of money, and temptation is always with us however I believe that it appears that you are a more honest man than most.
I looked at him and said, how could you know that, you have never seen me before until some little time ago, not until I walked into this office this morning.
I will tell you the truth he said, over the period of time when you have changed money with Raj, we have tested you out by sometimes giving you a little more Rupee than was the correct amount.
It appears that each time you have counted the money as you would or should and discovered you had received a little more than was coming to you, and have told Raj if his mistake, I doubt you would remember the transactions but this is true.
I looked at him and said, I do remember some of those times, may I ask, how long has this been going on, how long have you been playing these games with me.
He said , with a little laugh, we have been doing this each time you have changed the money with us, how many times exactly I do not know, but each time you have come to Delhi, Raj would have done it to you, not each time perhaps, but from time to time.
The point of all this is we are talking about a lot of money, and as you might know not too many are that honest, we wouldn't wish to just ask anyone would we.
So it has been decided to ask yourself to do this journey on our behalf.
I looked at him but didn't say anything, but that didn't mean I wasn't thinking. That talk is all very well I thought, however the amount of money involved is so fantastic no one could be expected to not give the greed side some serious thought.
Then when in real money like cash, it could belong to, to, I'm sure my face coloured as the thoughts went through my mind, and I struggled to get my mind away from those thoughts.
I calculated that ten into five hundred thousand was fifty thousand converted back into dollars at ten to one, which meant fifty thousand dollars American.
That would be more money than I could earn and save in a lifetime of work.
It was not such a bad share of one million for a few days away, especially in a country I liked a lot and had spent some time in, several time's previously.
I realised then, why it was that men sort out the gold fields, or continued to buy tickets in the football pools, or buy tatts tickets, the chance of instant wealth can create the most incredible sensation.
I hoped it didn't show but I felt my body heat with excitement and realised I was having the most incredible adrenalin rush.
I realised in a flash, that for most men who were just like me, the chance of real wealth, would most likely be a very long time in coming, if ever.
Fifty Thousand American Dollars in cash, in the year of the winter games in Grenoble France, and the Olympics in Mexico City, was certainly for most men a long life time of working for a wage, and was in real terms beyond the dreaming.
All the while he sat and watched me, not doing anything nor saying anything, just watching me and my reaction to his proposal.
I looked at him and when finally I considered it safe to speak, I said, you would understand that rupees would be no use to me, so I guess you mean the equivalent of the rupee as in ten to the American dollar which in real terms means fifty thousand American dollars, in cash.
He laughed and said, I see you realise that it is indeed, a great deal of money.
Should you desire the dollar then that would be correct, that would be yours for making the journey to such a beautiful faraway country, all you have to do is put some money in the bank, and then simply take it out again, to then return it to this country.
I would suppose he said, that you might be thinking, why so many Rupee, why not offer this man something much less.
I will tell you why the amount is so great, it is because you are a tall, smart man and handsome, a very presentable young man, and ordinary.
Invisibility is a word that has entered my thoughts.
We wouldn't want to under estimate you or maybe your possible thinking of some things that could be done with so much money, would we.
This way as it is we both benefit, don't we, I think you would be wealthy man,
you make a great deal of money, and of course we do too.
All in all for just five or six days away it could be very fruitful, for both of our parties, you must agree.
And my friend, he said, working together, it can be done, no one will ask what is in the brief case when you depart from Delhi airport.
There is no law that says you can't take money into Switzerland, in fact they desire it and want it.
A few days away enjoying the sights at our expense, and a nice flight back, you won't even have to walk of the plane with the briefcase when you arrive, you just leave it behind on the plane, of course we would tell you where that place would be.
I looked at him and said, just consider for a moment that if I did this thing, would you object to me taking out the Fifty Thousand dollars American in Switzerland, and just bring you back the balance that belongs here.
If we could agree to that I would give it a lot more thought and should I agree to this thing, when would you want to know if I will actually do it.
There is a flight out from Delhi airport every day, for naturally we must fly on our own airline Air India and just in case we might reach an agreement, I already have made the airline bookings out and back in Business class for it is a night flight which will get you in to Geneva, the following morning.
Time is important so we wouldn't want to waste it would we, all the deposit slips are all in order as are the withdrawal slips along with signed letters giving you the authority.
It is very nice there at this time of the year, he said, and of course we will have someone meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel, and provide a private car for driving and sightseeing while you are there.
As you are such an important man , you will be well cared for, oh yes he said, well cared for, I promise you.
As for taking out your wages before your flight back, I think that under the circumstances we would agree to that.
I know you have a return overland journey to drive don't you, India to England, and I expect your new passengers will be arriving very soon, for what do you call it ah, ah yes, he said, The tour of a lifetime, In the footsteps of Alexander the Great, a very memorable experience it would be too, I am sure.
We discussed the finer detail of my travel to Switzerland and he said how the light weight briefcase had been made special with a numbered lock and without the combination was impossible to get open.
He said, once again that no one knows of this transaction, just we two.
The others know only, that you are making some business arrangements for me in that country, and you will be carrying some important documents that is all.
There is one other thing I should mention to you, and that is I have a daughter and she is a hostess with Air India.
We do not know for certain that she would be on either of your flights but if she is she may make herself known to you.
If by some chance she is on your return flight she may ask to take the brief case from you, if she comes to you she will give you a card, like this one, then you will know.
In the end we shook hands and his parting words were I wish you good travelling, naturally he said, all the paper work and this brief case will be waiting for you when you depart for the airport, Raj will drive you, I look forward to your safe and rewarding return.
I walked out of his office, and Raj was waiting for me and he drove me back to the hotel, there wasn't much said between Raj and myself during the drive back to the hotel, I assume he was bubbling away waiting for me to say something, but I didn't. I cannot speak for Raj, but I know my mind was working overtime.
I went up to my room on arrival at the hotel and tried to get my head around what was confronting me over the next few days, I couldn't sit still, there was a some risk attached to all this, no matter what the suit said about it all.
I thought about the return trip coming up in a short while and the mad thoughts were skimming around in my head, I realised I better get a grip on myself, a fellow could go bonkers at this rate, I needed to be responsible and think positive.
Then perhaps I didn't want to drive the return tour back on the overland to London, or perhaps any other tour either for that matter.
Maybe I wanted to follow through on my very first thoughts, when the proposal was put to me, then I thought again of the possible consequences.
There are a lot of Indian people living all over the world, and important people like the suit, they would have plenty of contacts every where, and I mean everywhere.
One million in cash was an awful lot of money and I thought to myself, that is IF, you have the money, and I thought, of course, I would definitely have the money.
How easy it would be for me to get a false passport, and for that matter just about anything else that was needed to disappear into the never never somewhere.
Something to ponder on, I had several days before the cash was in the bag, so to speak.
Then I couldn't help but laugh out loud, as I remembered that old saying, about Your Not Being Yourself, lately.
There was much to do and I sat and made a list of things I would buy the next day, be prepared that was the motto, so I sat and wrote several letters, these I posted to a close friend in Australia with my instructions, just in case there might be a twist in the road..
The flight to Switzerland was as good, as one would expect, no hostess approached me so maybe the daughter wasn't aboard, I walked off the flight carrying the brief case, collected my case and went through the customs without any interest from them.
I was met by a Indian man who watched me with a keen eye, he put my bag in the car and then he reached for the brief case, I said, no thank you, I carry this everywhere with me.
I knew about those tricks, like put everything in the rear boot compartment, and when he stopped and I got out to get my things they drive off, never to be seen again, then I thought maybe I'm suffering from paranoia.
He then drove me into the city and finally we arrived at the Hotel Central just near the old city and only a few minutes from the lake, nice, very nice.
Just before lunch he drove me to the Credit Suisse bank which wasn't very far and it was unbelievable how easy it was to deposit the money and to chat to those who were appointed by the bank to look after me.
The next few days while I waited for the travellers cheques to be cleared were interesting enough, we drove all over and about sightseeing and talking.
On one day I ask would he drive me down past Montreux and up into the Aigle area, and to visit Leysin, which we did, I never said anything about why, and my driver never asked.
But to be honest though, except for the remembering the two sprained ankles on ski trips there ,most of the time all I was thinking about was that in a few days, I would have All That Money, and all in CASH.
I had already searched the telephone books to see who was listed in the sort of business that I might be soon interested in, just in case the devil got to me, and made me run away, to become someone else.
On the fifth day I walked out of that Swiss bank with almost, One Million in U S dollars cash in that brief case, minus of course my fifty thousand US dollars which I had already deposited into my brand new account.
I was driven back to the hotel, and all the time I was certain my minder appeared more nervous than me, though he had no reason to be, for I was the one carrying the black brief case.
I was assured in Delhi that he, my driver would have no idea at all there was a fortune in cash money inside the case that was resting on my knees beside him.
All he did know was, that I was doing some sort of business with the bank for the main man in Delhi, but that was all.
But I knew now, so much money does strange things to people, and I should know, I prayed it didn’t show, but if he noticed anything different about me, he never said a word.
At the hotel I thanked him for everything he had done for me over the last few days and for him to promise not to be late in the morning for I had the flight to catch, and that tonight I would dine in the hotel and have an early night.
That night as with previous nights the thoughts were there and I clearly imagined just how to do it and forever the results.
I knew there were some very good plastic surgeons in Europe and I would have the money, a change of face you might say, and a different passport, too easy.
I thought, what a small amount is one million to those money changers anyway when they handle so many millions.
Then I thought about the suit and he sending his Indians searching for me, and the end result should they ever find me, and how many of them would be continually watching and knocking on the family door, back in the home town.
I decided then that I need not be a cowboy, and should be happy and live without the stress of having a Ten million Indians searching the world for me.
I had given every thing a great deal of serious thought regarding the opportunity, and it seemed to me that another of the hardest things would be, at sometime seeing someone you knew very well walking towards you on the streets of Sydney or Melbourne, or some other towns.
Then when they passed you without a flicker of recognition, you would let out a sigh, and you realise you would miss them, your old friends.
Only now they could not be your friends, for the last thing you would ever want to hear from them would be your old name.
There was just one more thing I knew I should do and I did a good job of it too, and that was to clean that briefcase inside and out, the handle I would do on arrival.
At last I went to sleep believing that I already had plenty, and that all I had to do was to wait and to continue doing the driving job I was doing for a while longer and then, when I decided the time was right, I could call upon my friendly bank manager and arrange for the money transfer.
Besides, I knew now the suit may well want a repeat performance, should I decide and if I was ever game enough for another flight.
They say experience is a wonderful thing, and I now had done a little research and having almost completed this one.
Steady down I thought, the reality is I realised, that this one wasn't quite over yet.
I walked through the Geneva airport and finally onto the plane, and to say I wasn't somewhat nervous, would be an understatement although outwardly I thought I seemed calm enough, but on the inside of me there was a most unpleasant and disturbing feeling.
As we made ready for the return flight to New Delhi, I couldn't help but be a little nervous for I had heard about the Indian prisons, and even though Mr suit assured me there was no possibility at all of any problems, it's hard to dismiss the thoughts that linger in your brain cells.
We were flying for some little time when a hostess approached me and leaned over close to me and said in a soft voice, your business trip was a success.
I am the daughter of the man who gave you the brief case, she said, later when everyone has settled I shall come and talk a little with you if you don't mind.
With that she went on her merry way down the isle looking at other passengers.
I was asleep when there was a tap on my shoulder and the hostess asked can I get you anything from the bar, tea or coffee, or a beer perhaps.
I said, no thanks I am quite happy, I don't need any thing.
I am sorry to wake you when you were asleep she said, but we get so little time to ourselves and I do wish to talk with you she said, seating herself beside me.
I will take the brief case she said as my father would have mentioned to you, before you left Delhi.
She sat and talked to me about a so many things, just one of those things of immediate interest to me was, that she would soon be flying into London on regular flights instead of Switzerland.
She told me where the air crew stayed while in London, at the Hilton she said across from Hyde Park, do you know that hotel.
I said, I had never been there but knew where it was, as it wasn't that far from our Earls Court office, and I could certainly find it without any trouble.
I wonder she asked do you have a business card with your phone number on.
For I would like to meet with you when you finally arrive back into London from your tour and when I am also there between flights.
I think we should both arrive in London about the same month, you will be about three months before getting there, and my change of flights will be about the same. I will call your office and ask for you.
I had that card in my hand quicker than you could imagine, here was a very good looking female wanting to know how to find me in London.
We talked a lot during that flight and finally I gave her the brief case and away she went.
The plane landed, and as I walked of the Aircraft my new friend the hostess said I look forward to seeing you in a few months time in London, and she gave me wave and big smile.
Right then I thought, funny how things can change very fast, either for better or worse, unfortunately right this minute I didn't know which it was, much better or the other, I didn't have the brief case anymore, but I was still thinking, what if.
I said a silent prayer and reminded myself to be positive, I'm afraid it didn't help much, I was beginning to think how good it will be to get the new group and get on the road again, especially to exit India, and arrive into London.
I walked into the airport and waited anxiously for my luggage, when it arrived I went through customs, they took no notice of me, and once outside I took a taxi back to the hotel, even though the briefcase was long gone, I was guilty of looking back several times through the back window just to see, if.
The thought that the slim grey eyed hostess who might one day call, now that might be very
Interesting, and that had come about only because of my short lottery journey.
Then I thought I would sleep from now on with a little sachet of a curry and spices under the pillow just in case, a sort of hopeful preparation.
On my arrival at the Hotel, I paid the taxi driver and turned around and there was
Raj, ah ah , Mr Bob he said, with a wave and a smile.
I haven't seen you for a few days, your group will be arriving soon, we will again change some money.
While you were away he said, I have looked after your coach, to make sure no
bad people broke into it.
I thanked him for keeping a watch, and then turned and I said to him, that's right Raj you haven't seen me for a while and do you know what, it was a toss up to see if you ever would again.
I am sorry Mr Bob he said, what do you mean, TOSSUPAGEN I do not understand.
I think Raj I said, that is probably just as well, and laughing to myself, I walked into the hotel,
A happy little vegemite, Knowing, but of course, well, that's my secret and I surely wasn't about to let on to anyone, ..................Not Ever.
November 2017. Robert ( Bob Wilko ) Wilkinson.
Limestone coast South Australia
Sundowners Overland tours.
July 1964------Nov 1977
Another detailed, long and interesting tale from those good old times.
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