Ticket Lottery

Two hundred tickets were available for the global launch of the film HUMANITY, and there had been a huge buzz when they were allocated online. The event was being held in the village of Lucerne, where the director had received his inspiration for the film, rather than in London, Mumbai or New York. His strange choice of location made the tickets doubly desirable, and the international jet set had clamoured for them.

Something didn’t feel right though. Sami, the local project manager, asked a member of the production crew, “Why are all those people queuing?”

“They’re the walk-ins, hoping to pick up tickets at the door.”

Sami was surprised. “But I thought all tickets had been allocated already. Where have the extras come from?”

The crew member said, “Between you are me, they are waiting for nothing. There aren’t any extra tickets.”

“Well, why don’t we tell them? They shouldn’t waste their time.”

“Look, the director said that all tickets should be allocated anonymously. There should be payment by donation, with people giving what they could afford or wanted to. But the producer rigged the allocation process. He priced up one hundred and fifty tickets for VIPs, sold twenty-five to restaurants serving special menus tonight, and fixed the lottery for the remaining twenty-five tickets. They’re all gone.”

Sami knew there would be some VIPs – he had been told up to fifty – but this was a disgrace. There was a huge queue of hopefuls, maybe 200 people, wanting to get in.

He spotted a familiar figure near the back of the line, with long black beard, brown skin and orange robe. It was his boss, Guru Baba! But wasn’t he away on pilgrimage for a month, which was the reason Sami was able to take this freelance position. Why was he back?

Sami walked over immediately and pressed his palms together.

“Yes, yes,” said the sage, returning the greeting. “I heard about the screening. I wanted to see it too so I decided to come back.”

“What about your ascent of Mt Kalash? Did you abandon it?”

“I was never going to climb it anyway. Too cold up there. Brrrr!” His shivering agitated his robe, making him seem like a dancing hairy fruit. “Now when will you let us in?”

“Guru Baba, why didn’t you get a VIP ticket? You only had to ask.” He was one of the world’s leading holy men, and though retired, still very well connected and popular.

“No, no. Why shouldn’t I wait like everybody else? Aren’t we all equal? This film is called HUMANITY.”

Sami didn’t know whether to tell him about the ticket situation in public; it may anger other people waiting. “Guru Baba, please come here, I need to tell you something.”

“No way! I am not losing my place in the line.”

“Guru Baba, you need to know something about the tickets…” Sami tailed off.

“Well, don’t be shy. You can tell us. We are all brothers and sisters here.”

“Okay then, there are no extra tickets. They have all been allocated to VIPs and the producer’s friends. You are waiting for nothing. You may as well go home.”

The crowd began grumbling, but Guru Baba stayed quiet. Then he said, “I have an idea.”

Sami told the VIPs, sipping champagne while awaiting the screening, that Guru Baba was offering a live audience tonight at the Transparent Temple, which they could attend in exchange for their film ticket.

Who wouldn’t want an audience with Guru Baba? Imagine the photos, blessings, mantras, and bragging rights acquired. They would witness his miraculous quality of multilocation, of being with many people at once, yet focussing on each one individually.

A handful of VIPs stood up immediately, and then the rest, not wanting to be left out of this once in a lifetime – maybe once in many lifetimes – opportunity, left their seats and walked to the Transparent Temple.

When the VIPs had gone, the 200 walk-ins walked in and enjoyed the film. Due to his quality of multilocation, Guru Baba enjoyed it too.

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