Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Buying a Cheap Pen

You go to bank to send some money – now a days even sending had become depositing in the account of the recipient. You require to fill some forms. And suddenly you realize that you are not carrying the pen. You look around for options. Option 1 – borrow a pen from the fellow customers at the bank (But all of them looks hostile or busy). Option 2 – borrow a pen from the staff at the counter (they look even busier and more hostile). Option 3 – go to a shop and buy a cheap pen, preferably a use and throw kind of pen, just to fill the form, which is not more than twenty words including the signatures. You sigh and murmur an aimless suggestion for the bank to keep some pens, securing with a string, like you have seen in some place which exactly you do not remember. Even if it is not secured, it won't make much difference to the bank's income; as such they are giving away pens, dairies with calculators as gift every new year, to the the customers who seldom come to the bank.

Choosing the third option, you go to a shop nearby to buy a pen which is less costly. It is irksome to care for expensive pen and carry it around in casuals. Moreover, the pen and a note book are not required much due to the availability of the facility of writing it down in the smart phone. And who does not carry smart phone now? Unless, you are in the bank and need arises for a pen to sign and fill the deposit/withdrawal forms. The bank should come up with an idea of penless and peperless deposit and withdrawing.

The pen was cheap. It costs only ten bucks. You could have given more than ten bucks for allowing you to borrow the pen along with tons of gratitude, had you chose the first two options. Choosing option three was an smart idea. But the conversation with the shopkeeper and you were heard by the bystander.

“Excuse me. Can you give me a cheapest pen?”

Without acknowledging she starts fishing for a pen and takes out one for you.

“How much?”

“Tiru chutham”

Only ten bucks! It is cheap, you think. But you ask jocularly, “Do you have any pen cheaper than ten Ngultrum? I guess I should buy a refill. Do you have refill?” You omit explaining the reasons for wanting a pen desperately, that too a cheap one which would be enough to write twenty words or so to fill the deposit form and the pen would be going to the bin deliberately or it would be left on the counter for others to use it.

She smiles understanding the joke and says, “No sir. But even refill would cost the same sir.”

The bystanders, in the meantime waiting to buy a doma was disgusted with the you. Smart looking man holding a bundle of cash in hand (which is to be deposited in others account, doing favour for a friend – he does not know) Ufff! Looking for a cheapest pen, that too in a pan shop. What a guy?

As you turn, you smile at him and it is not returned. Obviously, he did not get the joke. Was it a joke? It was a serious case of you looking for a pen to do the errand for a friend. You were seriously looking for a use and throw kind of pen, if such pen were available.

The background story of looking for cheapest pen would not be understood. But he would have a great story to tell, once he is back home or in bars, “You know what? I saw a man today in the market near the Druk PNB. He was desperately looking for a cheapest pen. He was not feeling an iota of shy, to pronounce proudly whether there is the cheapest pen sii...”

The talk revolves around the town, bars and offices. It reaches your ears too, you smile. It teaches a great lesson to you – This is how we judge the people: ministers, politicians, lamas, officers, friends and others. A small part of the full episode is seen with own eyes and that is enough to pass the judgement. We seldom care to dig into what leads or led into the actions thus performed....