Yes, terribly. It happened in London.

It was my second day in London and after enjoying the view from London’s Eye, I was walking towards Westminster Bridge. At the bridge I saw some people were gathered and watching something. Out of sheer curiosity I joined them. Soon I observed that one guy was sitting in the middle playing a trick, and everyone was gambling on that. A Spanish man was hiding a small ball under three steel cups and after a few shuffles here and there, asked people to guess under which cup the ball was hiding. And when people pointed to the right cup, they earned double the money that they had bet. Many people were betting and a few of them were earning.

The game intrigued me, and now I was taking more interest as I couldn’t stop myself from participating; but I didn’t want to spend money. I was able to guess under which cup ball was hiding and I was right every time, and many people who won had taken my advice. At this point I was asked by the guy who was running the game to put some money down, or otherwise he wouldn’t allow me to keep predicting. This time I decided to put up money as I felt very confident with my experience, so I bet 20 pounds. But the man refused to allow me to gamble ‘only’ 20 pounds, and everyone around persuaded me to put more money down so I could win more. In the end, I was encouraged to bet 60 pounds. But when he lifted that small steel cup there was nothing underneath—I was shocked and had lost 60 pounds.

I had no idea what went wrong because before this whenever I had pointed my finger I was correct, but this time when I put my own money in, it went wrong. I was sad but still kept watching that game in the hope that something would happen. So I stood there for another 15-20 minutes and was observing the game very minutely, and once again I got involved in playing. Somehow I had to get back my lost money. I thought I would get my money back by playing a few games because I saw some people were still winning there, so why not me? I made a decision to play with 30 pounds, but everyone there was telling me, ‘No, put more, you are right, the ball is there. We are thousand times sure.’ An Arab guy who was standing next to me said ‘I could put 500 pounds, but unfortunately I do not have it.’ A woman standing next to me bet 100 pounds and I was inspired enough to bet 60 pounds again. But when he lifted that cup, again there was nothing underneath. Now I was completely devastated. I had no money left in my pocket; I had lost all 120 pounds in cash that I was carrying for that day.

Later, cops came along and everyone dispersed. Those who were running the show were clearing up quickly and speaking amongst each other in Spanish. Now I had no idea what to do and how to get back to my hotel in Oxford Street. I had no money left and was not carrying my credit card. I was angry with myself and also realised that I had fallen into the trap simply because of my greed. Those guys had cheated me very cleverly and I had been very easily fooled. But I was still responsible for this.

Later, a few people who saw me losing money came to me and said that I should not have played that game, at least not with such a big amount. They told me that those tricksters were part of a big group and that the ones who were winning were part of same group—a very well planned trap for foolish tourists like me. But the damage was already done and as life never gives you a second chance, I took this as a lesson learnt and decided to never repeat such a mistake in the future.

With a grumpy face and feeling like a loser, I started walking towards Parliament House. When I checked my pocket I found a few small coins—all put together they came to 91 pence. I was feeling hungry and thirsty, but that money was not enough to buy anything in London—it is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Even the bus ticket to my hotel was at least 2-3 pounds. It was still my second day in London and I was not aware of how the streets connected. Everything was new to me. I reached Trafalgar Square and as it happened, collided into the Pride Parade which was on that day. So I spent some time there watching the parade to try and change my mood, and later on I asked some policemen for the direction. So after 2 hours of walking, I finally reached my hotel.

I will never forget that day and the way I fell into the trap of my own greed, publicly fooled, and learned the lessons of life.

By: Chit Dubey – Author of a book ’21 Doors to Happiness’.

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