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July 29, 2004 13:59 IST
Almost everyone who goes to see the Niagara Falls takes a 'Maid of the Mist' ride. Which means you get on a boat and get as close to the thundering falls as is safe. This, personally speaking, is the best part of the whole trip.
Everyone in our crowded boat was very excited and pushed each other as they tried to get the best possible view of the Falls.
I wanted to impress my new bride and elbowed our way ahead. In the process, I pushed an older, well-dressed man who politely made way for us. A few seconds later, I realised how rude I had been and apologised.
"It's okay," he replied with the smile. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
"Yes," I replied as I stared at his increasingly familiar face. "Have I seen you somewhere?"
He introduced himself. "Hi. I am from India. My name is Shivraj Patil."
I replied with a big smile, "Hi. I'm Mahesh Patil." Then, the penny dropped. I realised I was talking with the ex-speaker of the Lok Sabha.
We chatted for a few minutes and even took a picture together. He was a very down-to-earth person. Today, he is the home minister of India. And I have lost that precious photograph taken during that unforgettable July 4, 2000, weekend.
Mahesh Patil, Detroit
The pen is mightier...
I removed the cap of my pen and placed it in my pocket in such a manner that anyone would think I had the entire instrument there.
My colleague, with whom I was sharing a cup of tea in the office pantry, grinned.
Just as we expected, a hand sneaked over my shoulder and filched my pen... errr, its cap actually.
Then, there was a sound of disgust as the cap sailed out of the window. We burst out laughing.
I was thrilled -- I just taught a very irritating colleague a good lesson. This guy had the annoying habit of flicking my pen and never returning it. Now, I was sure he would never do it again. Sure enough, he never did.
Anand P Verlekar, Goa
Tips to a waiter
As a carefree bachelor in Pune in 1990, I would frequently dine at a particular restaurant.
One night, as usual, I asked the waiter to get me Tomato Soup, Tandoori Rotis and Mushroom Masala.
I was starving. Ten minutes later, there was no sign of my order.
I asked the waiter to at least get me the soup. He told me I'd have to wait, there were many customers in the restaurant that day.
A little later, much to my surprise, he arrived with the soup, rotis and curry. Normally, the soup is served first so that the other food does not become cold. I asked the waiter to at least serve the rotis, which would otherwise become rubbery, later.
He refused and said I'd have to eat it as is because of the sudden rush in customers.
At first, I thought of taking him to task and reporting this incident to the manager. But something stopped me.
I had not begun my dinner; the soup lay untouched. I asked for the bill, paid it and left a Rs 25 tip. Then, I walked out.
Embarrassed, the waiter ran after me, begging me to eat. I told him it was okay and showed no sign of being upset or angry.
I started my two-wheeler but, before leaving the restaurant's premises, I stopped near the waiter and requested him to never mete out similar treatment to any customer again.
Sylvester Marshall, Dubai
Running for my life
This happened when I was doing my degree in Kochi. My friend and I used to go for walks in the evening along Marine Drive.
As usual, we were busy chatting about our day in college (and let me tell you, we were loud ;-)). After a while, I sensed someone following us.
We decided to return home. To our bad luck, the moment we reached the inner roads, the power went off (there was a power cut in the city for half an hour every day).
We started walking faster. Again, I got the feeling something was wrong and turned back. A guy was following us.
We stopped, thinking we would let him pass. But the moment he did, he turned back and came running towards us. We stood there, frozen. I could almost feel his hand on me. That's when my friend pulled me back so hard that I fell. Then, she began screaming loudly.
The guy got scared and raced off. We ran in the opposite direction. To this day, we haven't told our parents about this incident, but we continue to think of it and thank our good luck!
Preethy Raman, Baltimore, Maryland
Illustrations: Dominic Xavier