I arrived in Pune with a letter for one Colonel Yardi. The Colonel was a "family friend" of a "family friend" and for that reason alone was expected to give me boarding and lodging till I found my bearings in a new city where I did not know anyone. I had just finished school and I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about forcing my company on a retired couple whom I had never met or known. However there simply was no other option.
Having settled in with the Yardi's, I arrived early for my first day at college to check with the staff if they knew of any cheap and reliable student accommodation, close by. It seemed that there were many places available around the college and in fact one particular peon even offered to personally show me this "nice room" to rent.
As soon as my classes were over I went in search for the good samaritan who in fact was already waiting for me at our previously decided meeting place.
We ambled up the steep drive way of the college. This was the same drive way for which my yet to be friend Batjuban Edmond Marpana of Nongbet would famously quip: "As I see it man, in this city if you are a girl and in trouble go stand in the middle of that ramp and ten knights in shining armours will emerge from somewhere to help you but if you are a guy and in trouble then just go back to the city you came from!!"
After a twenty minute walk we arrived in the back alley of a rather dilapidated house. After negotiating 2 stories of rickety stairs I was inside a windowless room. Although I had already mentally rejected the room I still asked "So how much will it cost?" "Three other people will share the room" said my friend. "The monthly rent will be Rs. 2000/- per person, Rs. 2000/- security deposit and another Rs. 2000/-"
"Hmmn" I mumbled in the most non-committal manner. "It's beyond my budget." On the way back I casually asked my peon friend. "So I understand that the monthly rent and advance was going to cost Rs. 2000/- each but what was the third Rs. 2000 for?" "For me of course", he said most shocked to note that I had no desire to remunerate him for his efforts.
Now as it happens, till then I just assumed that one pays for tangible things like eggs, bread, a house, a meal at a restaurant and such like. It did not occur to me that people would seek remuneration for "helping" others. I saw reason much later when I qualified as a lawyer!!!! However at that point I remember being most shocked at his desire to make money off me and continued to hold a very bad opinion of him, to put it mildly. So much so that when a bunch of friends, at the end of the year, were indulging in some loose talk about leaking examination papers, I confidently offered a name of a peon who was known to leak examination papers! Guess who?!!