Spot the Ravan

images (3)Hello everyone! Here’s wishing you a very Happy Dasara on the occasion of Vijayadashmi!!! Today is supposed to mark the end of Raavan, the King of Lanka, who abducted Sita. It also marks the triumph of Good over evil.

Here is the story of her abduction/kidnapping for some background. The couple Ram and Sita are staying the forest as a part of their vanavasa with Ram’s brother Lakshman. Ravana is the king of Lanka who has his heart set on Sita. So plans to kidnap her. He takes help from Mareecha, who is his uncle and has the power to transform himself into any form. Mareecha transforms into a golden deer and walks into the ashram where Sita, Ram & Lakshman are staying. On seeing the deer, fascinated by it’s beauty, Sita asks her husband to get it for her. The brothers have their doubt as they had never seen such a creature but Sita has her heart set on it.

Ram sets out while leaving Lakshman behind to protect Sita. The deer takes Ram deeper and deeper into the forest. In a few minutes, Lakshman hears Ram cry out for help. Ofcourse, it isn’t Ram but another of Mareecha’s trick. Lakshman not knowing what to do  stays put. But Sita is worried about her husband and makes her BIL go look for Ram. Lakshaman agrees, draws a magical boundary around the hut which would protect Sita in his absence and leaves. Now Raavan disguised as a hermit asking for food comes to the hut. Obviously Sita offers him food. When she offers the food he can’t reach for it so he asks her to step out of the boundary to give the offering. After all, what harm could an old hermit asking for alms pose, right? Wrong! Once she crosses the boundary, voila there he is – The mighty Raavan, laughing away at the Sita’s folly and happy for his prize.

Now this is a very familiar story and anybody related to the Indian subcontinent remotely already knows the story. The point of me reiterating it here is we all have been Sita at some or the other point of time. We fail to recognize the threats and fall into the trap readily. So it is important, we be aware no matter how benign the threats look.

Be careful the next time you open the door for a stranger or give out information to a random person on the phone or the Internet. Look before you leap!! Don’t let the golden deer entice you.

Hope you all have a happy and safe celebration!

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Et tu, target?

2I was talking to a friend the other day about the scam series of posts I am doing on the blog. And she mentioned how the poor tech illiterate folks get duped. And my reaction was NO. Not really. Yes it is very easy to scam someone who is not very tech savvy that especially includes the rural folk, the senior citizens etc. But here is a list that’ll help you assess whether you can be scammed:

  • Are you Human?

End of list. If you are a human being with aspirations, fears, insecurities, dreams, or just a human body then you qualify. While most of the scams rely on psychological tricks some simply work because you are tired, sleepy, or you have to pee and things like that. And mind you scammers target people of all walks of life, age, gender, background and income levels. There are retired policemen who have been victims of scam. Somebody who has spent a lifetime getting into a criminal’s minds and catching them. They have the information of the most common conman tricks. This is somebody who is professionally trained to questions each and everything around them, look for details, investigate and analyse things! Then what chance does a layman have?

  • Some of the simpler ones like a pickpocket relies on you being temporarily distracted for a few seconds. The modus operandi is usually there is one person who distracts you with a question like what time it is or do you know a particular address or just bump into you on a busy road and while you are processing this information your wallet has quickly reached his accomplices hand who in turn passes it on to a third person.
  • Some others like a telephone call saying your card has been blocked and needs to be reactivated using your PIN is preying on your fear & anxiety of you not being able to access your own money.
  • Fake modeling agencies and casting agencies makes use of your aspirations of becoming a famous film star , pop star or a super model.
  • Scams like ‘signed cancelled cheques’ use your ignorance of banking procedures.
  • Love scams target your need for a companion. Lonely/single people are the target.
  • Fake police and post scams rely on your social compliance and conformance to people in uniforms or Government agencies.
  • Fake crying baby sounds and the fake accident victim scams exploit your inherent human compassion and good Samaritan nature.
  • Scams targeting old people rely on their slower mental reflexes and their lack of knowledge updation.
  • Most scams like Nigerian scams exploit simple human greed.

Now that we know anybody can be scammed what do we do about it

  • Rule of thumb that applies to EVERYBODY(Unless you are Eklavya!) – If it is too good to be true, it probably is!!!
  • Beware of strangers! Stranger Danger isn’t a myth. Don’t let strangers into your house. Don’t give out information to strangers on phone or in person. Don’t trust strangers easily.
  • Be Aware of your surroundings and try and keep yourself updated with the happenings in the World. Difficult! I know! I myself haven’t read a newspaper for  ages now.
  • Question things! Try and keep your calm and think logically even in difficult situations!
  • And after all we are only human. We cannot be hyper alert all the time. We falter and when you do seek help! From your friends and the concerned authorities. Report the scams and make others around you aware too.
  • And lastly keep reading my blog! Check out the other posts in the same series. I won’t bore you. Promise!!

#JaagoDearJaago!