Sunday, March 16, 2008

Matka’s Open and Close case

Raju is the matka bookie round the corner and he had mixed feelings about legalizing his trade.

“I don’t know what my bosses will say about this new move to legalise matka,” he said.

“The idea most probably has come from them,” I said.

“No no, that cannot be. One boss is in Ahmedabad and the other is in Mumbai,” he said.

“Are these branch offices or something?” I asked.

“Matka has two heads, two bodies and one heart,” he said.

“Just like a monster; it should be stabbed in that one heart,” I said.

“What stabbing you talking about? You don’t know how many people matka helps,” he said.

“I know many families it has ruined,” I said.

“It’s all mathematics, actually. You can multiply your money by as many as 80 times,” he said.

“And you can lose your house and family, too,” I said.

“It is called OC. Opening and Closing numbers. The opening number or first digit known as Open, is announced at 9.00 pm and the closing number or second digit known as Close is announced at midnight,” he said.

“So it’s like a one day match?” I asked.

“Even better you can bet only for ‘Open’ or only for ‘Close’, and get eight times the money you put in,” he said.

“So who are these bosses you talk about? I know Rattan Lal Khatri was the boss in the 70s,” I said.

“Oh he was the god of matka, now all I know is we have Milan from Ahmedabad and Kalyani from Kalyan in Mumbai, these are the centres, not bosses,” he said.

“How much do you collect in a day?” I asked.

“Around 10-15 lakh,” he said.

“That’s how you people manage to get away by paying the authorities to look the other way,” I said.

“How foolish you are. The ‘authorities’ as you call them are also our valued customers,” he said.

“The poor are the worst hit; and you don’t think of the misery you put women and children to,” I said.

“Again stop with the foolishness, please. Women are a huge part of our valued customer base. Sometimes we get so much business we have to pass it on to Hubli or Mumbai,” he said.

“So Churchill was right, the government will make a killing if they legalise matka,” I said.

“Oh definitely, but the bosses earnings would take a beating,” he said.

“What about yours,” I asked.

“Not a problem. I will be saving on the bribes; and the tension,” he said.

“Why tension,” I asked.

“You don’t know how awful it is when the cops walk in front of my shop,” he said.

“But you’ve already settled with them,” I said.

“Yes, but new constables and officers are constantly transferred, not like in Karnataka where they are transferred between March to June. They make big money there,” he said enviously.

“Well it’s time matka gave something back to the masses. Matka taxes can be used to improve the lot of the poor,” I said.

“We are already contributing. Who do you think pays for election campaigns and sponsors functions,” he asked.

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