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     Volume 4 Issue 24 | December 10, 2004 |

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All that glitters….
have some gold

A. Farjad Ahmed

Dateline Dhaka, Saturday November 13, 2004, 7 pm. I am rushing towards my friends' place in Gulshan to catch the second half of the Pakistan-India cricket match on a 50" TV; the game promises to be nothing less than a Hitchcock thriller. My eight-year-old son Atef is with me, he wants to meet up with his 10-year-old cousin Raeesa. I am driving and listening to the jazz classic--"The Lion and The Wolff by Lee Morgan. Feeling happy, good, excited, ebullient. Then just when I am about to take a U-turn, I pause and catch a glimpse of a white Toyota sedan cruising at moderate speed heading in the opposite direction of the road divider. Nothing wrong with that except within a blink of an eye, the Toyota loses control and collides head-on with my car (2004 Nissan). The jolt was not strong enough to disengage the air bag, but it disengaged something worse--my anger. As expected, I was absolutely flabbergasted. The fact that my mobile phone decided to die on me that very morning didn't help to assuage my nerves either.

While I went on ranting, the driver/owner did not utter a word, appeared to be in a state of sheer disbelief himself, and without hesitation, emphatically apologised. I, of course, was not in the mood for apologies and continued to regurgitate my entire treasure trove of swear words on the poor soul. The driver/owner, still calm, introduced himself as a physician--chest specialist, to be precise; I retorted that I didn't care if he was George (expletive) Bush. While I continued to berate, he clearly displayed compunction and gave me his telephone numbers assuring me that he will bear full expense of my damaged vehicle. Words, of course, were clearly inadequate to console me at this time. I took down the number of the vehicle and hastily drove off, fully aware that my anger might get the better of me if I remained at the "crash site".

Within 15 minutes, I questioned my wisdom in letting the driver off the hook so easily : What if he denied involvement in the accident? What if he went against his word and refused to compensate? "Ifs" and"Buts" began to convolute my mind and I started to feel like a complete idiot; I imagined the owner of the other vehicle laughing all the way back. Despondent as ever, my Eid appeared to be in tatters. Typically, an incident like this in Dhaka would have ended here. Thankfully, this has a happy ending. All my misgivings and distrust proved false when I received full payment within 24 hours of presenting the bill. No questions, no delays, nor did he object to the figure -- the cost was steep by any standards and I am sure he missed a heartbeat when I told him the amount. A true, sincere, god fearing, honest gentleman, he turned out to be. In this city where terms like values, ethics, and commitment are not even an afterthought, it was indeed heartening to come across a respectable and worthy citizen whom I, literally, met by accident.

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