November 11. “Button, a watchman rang our bell at 2 in the afternoon and told us to shut our windows.
When I heard this, the obvious question I asked the maid who opened the door was: Shut windows! But why? By the time she went out to ask, he had already left to give the message to some other occupant. We called downstairs to be told that a cyclone was on its way. That’s when I actually shut all the windows and left for the club. On my way I found mothers holding on tightly to the hands of their children and almost scurrying helter skelter to get back home or wherever else they were headed. It was a sight! It’s amazing how news like that multiplies itself many times over to cause panic and fear in the minds of people.
“It’s so easy to play a hoax on people too.”
“You’re so right. What stops someone from sending a text message to 10 people saying there’s a cyclone or some other calamity on its way! Those 10 people would obviously forward that message to 10 more people each and, in the flash of an eyelid, there can be pandemonium all around.”
“I just saw the news on television that the cyclone has already passed Mumbai.”
“Yes. It’s like the tsunami the weather lab predicted during this year’s monsoons. That too didn’t happen. Actually today’s cyclone made a lot of people laugh. It’s like the story of the boy who cried wolf.”
“What’s the story?”
“There was a shepherd who used to graze sheep for a living. One day he thought of raising a false alarm by crying wolf and have everyone come running out. So he cried wolf and had the entire village rushing out with sticks in their hands to beat up the wolf. After he had done this a couple of times, the villagers suspected that the boy was, most probably, playing a prank on them as there was no wolf and refused to come out of their homes. On the fourth count, the wolf actually struck. The young boy beat drums and shouted wolf again and again and again only to realize that not a soul was coming to his aid. The wolf took its prey and disappeared into the woods. The farmers came out later and told the boy that they had not come to help him because they wanted to teach him a lesson.”