This post is mainly about smoking and hence I need to put up this slogan “Cigarette smoking is injurious to health “. A colleague of mine regularly keeps borrowing cigarettes from all other persons at the smoking zone each time he feels like smoking instead of buying the same on his own..and in spite of subtle suggestion by some to buy his own packets he still continues live of others. The same person in the late evenings keeps popping into my flat for having a free drink and couple of smokes. Now this is quite irritating that each day you have an uninvited guest at home and also intrusion to my privacy and space but then since he is my neighbor and a friend I could not bluntly tell him that he is not welcome each day of the week. Instead another friend of mine jokingly told him that all of us here have come to earn money and there cannot be freebees on a daily basis. From then on whenever he come home (frequency reduced considerably) he does brings over his own drink and the only thing he still ask is the cigarettes since he cannot have cigarette packet in his home since his wife would crucify him. Now days he maintains a packet of cigarette at the office and he has changed for better.
On this note I am reminded of a person with whom I worked at Iraq in 1981 and the incident that took place with him then which I narrate now. I was just 24 years old and I took up an assignment as a junior electrical engineer with an Indian firm that had picked up a largest construction contract awarded to an Indian company at Baghdad. I and eight other persons traveled to Baghdad as one of the initial mobilization teams to set up the construction site and among us there was a senior electrical engineer from Bangalore who was aged between 38-40 and all others were in my age group. This person whose name I am not able to recollect ( Let me call him “K”) had the same infuriating habit of living on other peoples things in spite of getting much higher salary. Initially all was well since we were just about 15 staff based in unknown land and we used to go around various places of Iraq on weekends without giving many thoughts to K’s habit. The staff strength increased constantly and in few months there were more than 150 staff (engineers and office staff) and yet K’s habit continued unabated and tempers amongst us would flare up but then since he was our senior and the boss of a division we were never able to tell him bluntly on his face, though we have been giving indications of displeasure in subtle ways…like if he is coming to anyone’s room then that person would hide his cigarettes, drinks or eatables and tell that he does not have any to spare but then K was equally smart and would somehow ferret out the hidden cigarette and drinks.
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Then one day when we all were fed up to the core we decided that we need to teach K a lesson that he would never forgets for ages to come. This task was left to one of my colleague who used to lose the entire packet of cigarette K on many occasions and the plan was quite simple but effective. What we did is that we bought a packet of cigarette and removed the tobacco from few cigarettes and put in match stick head and refilled the same. All the cigarettes were replaced inside the packet and left casually on the table within the room. As usual our bumming friend K dropped into my friend’s room and found the packet of cigarette on the table which he casually pocketed thinking that he has taken it without our knowledge and walked away. Eight of us were now waiting for the inevitable to happen since K’s room was just across our row of room…then we heard a loud shout as the match flared up and burnt his fingers. We guys were stifling our giggles and we did not give much attention to the shout and acted as though nothing has happened and were waiting for fireworks to begin from K but then nothing was forthcoming. Then couple of hours later we saw K with a thick bandage on his fingers trying to avoid looking into our eyes. We learnt later that he tried smoking five more cigarettes from the same packet and three of the cigarettes burnt between his fingers. That was the last time that K ever asked for cigarettes from us and for that matter from that day he totally avoided us till the end of our contract….good riddance. Indeed a lesson learnt by him. I know what we did was not fair but then we were quite young and this could have been avoided by a firm no in the first place.