* Good friends of ours, god-fearing religious-institution-visiting couple, had us over for dinner one evening some years ago. Told us with satisfaction that they can make unlimited calls from their MTNL phone within India and outside, because of a deal they have just made with their MTNL lineman, paying him Rs 100 a month.
"So who actually pays for the calls?" we asked.
"Oh we don't know," they said. "He told us the calls just get charged to someone else. If you want the same facility we can tell him to come meet you."
This used to be common. With the coming of mobiles and cheap long-distance calls, it probably doesn't happen much any more. But it used to be common.
* A bachelor uncle lived for many years in a smallish building in one of Bombay's more desirable suburbs. At one point, he began noticing that he was getting inordinately high electricity bills, over double what he was used to paying. He couldn't understand it: there were no new electrical appliances in the house, it wasn't as if he suddenly had his geyser on 24/7.
Months of puzzlingly high bills with no explanation, driving my uncle round the bend. Eventually, a technician from the power company found the problem. One of his neighbours had disconnected the wires from his own electrical meter and connected them to my uncle's meter.
* Driving home this afternoon, came up to a red light. A few cars stopped; the rest barreled straight through the red light. When it turned to green, those of us who had stopped, started moving. But the cross traffic now showed no sign of stopping. Nerve-wracking few seconds getting through the junction.
* Website I visited that had some discussion about Anna Hazare's fast also had a poll: "Who would you like to see as India's next Prime Minister?" Perhaps ten names were listed.
77 per cent of nearly 1000 respondents (when I visited) had chosen the first name on the list, Narendra Modi.
* For a brief and largely sticker-shocked period, my wife and I went house-hunting in Bombay. We visited one poky little flat that was half-way decent, so we asked about the price. After getting the usual sticker shock, we asked our usual question anyway: "will you take a cheque?"
The owner looked strangely at us. "Why?" he asked. "You're from some church group or something?"
* Builder we know of once told the story of how he provides water to the buildings he builds. "The Municipality supplies water for a fixed period every day, and they require pipes x inches in diameter." (I don't remember what x was, sorry). "So when I put up a building, I pay off the Municipality and use pipes 1.5x inches in diameter. So my customers get more water." That last, said with pride for his dedication to his customers.
"What about the other buildings in the area, wont' they get less water then?" someone asked.
"Not my problem," said the man.
(I can't vouch for the veracity of whether 1.5x diameter pipes for one building actually mean more water for that building).
These anecdotes make up just a few of the reasons I'm pessimistic that even a new law will be able to fight corruption and the slide in values so many bemoan.