Sunday, October 10, 2010


The inevitable happened.

Friday morning in a crowded MRT (light rail transit). Commuters packed into transit cars like sardines. Bodies pressing up against each other, moulding into each other, squirming to create space. Hands everywhere. Some protectively covering valuables and body parts, others wandering and made invisible, masked by the mass of bodies.

Such opportunistic theft is not uncommon. While lamenting the loss over coffee at the conference, another man piped up. He'd had the same experience on his commute that same morning. These items are very rarely retrieved. It won't be another case of "kobra" (go-and-come-back) like my orange bicycle in Ghana.

It was only a phone, the cheapest, simplest, most generic Nokia available on the market. For the pick-pocket, gleefully anticipating an expensive iPhone, Blackberry or other smartphone, the prize was a disappointment. For the pick-pocketed, the event was a reminder to remain ever alert and a lucky break that it was only a phone.

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