Tickets being cancelled one after one, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was staying in my rented oven the whole summer. I had a full chart drawn out, chockablock with bullet points stating in colorful embellished letters how I was going to get a monthly subscription to The Hindu, join the National Museum summer internship and break Yoshida’s world record for the most nonstop push ups. But as they say, the most outstanding things happen unexpectedly. So I got to go home.
It was around midnight when the confirmation reached me. I had to board the North East Express before 6:45 in the morning. For that I’d had to reach the station before 6:30. For that I’d had to find a cab before 5:45. For that I’d had to leave 1618 before 5:30. For that I’d had to wake up before 4:30. I did a few more calculations and set the alarm at 3:00 am. But I was so happy I couldn’t sleep. So I aborted the alarm at 2:30 and paced up and down my room for a good number of minutes, thinking about all the possibilities that could result in the cancellation of the journey. I was ready for a disastrous, impending earthquake anytime. I checked the weather report on Google and a few minutes later I found myself endeavoring to understand the mechanism of El Nino. It was to be a rainy day. I just wished I found a cab.
Emptying my bowels, I downloaded the Ola app. They offered me a prime ride only for double the price an auto driver would take. But auto drivers are hard to rein this early, and more than that, they are hard to find. I looked for some coupons but seemed like Ola people were no more consumer friendly. I wondered if I should call my friend Abhishek who has a museum of coupons but I looked deeper and found the cheapest ride to Anand Vihar ISBT. They called it Micro.
I packed my stuffs and my mother called up. In a dozy voice she reminded me of all the stuffs I had to shove in my bag.
“Don’t forget my handbag. “She said for the fourth time, as if I could forget her handbag. If you had a mother like mine you would never forget her handbag. But where the hell is it? I recall seeing it a few days ago….
“Ah. Ookkhhayy. “I said, fumbling around for her handbag which I had kept somewhere I didn’t remember anymore. Shit.
I found it in the end. Below the bed.
I also sneaked into my landlord’s apartment like a thief, and returned the water camper to its place. I wondered if I should leave a note stuck to the handle, but going by the fact that they don’t have pan cards I wasn’t sure if literacy was a concept known to them.
Forty minutes later, I was waddling in the rain with two bags in my arms towards the stupid Ola cab that didn’t budge an inch despite my persistent requests to bring it near me because it was pouring so goddamn hard. I had been standing under the overbridge looking towards the glorious Shyam Lal College on the other side of the road for an eternity, waiting for the cab. It was honking all the time behind my back, on the other side of the other road, which is both unethical and stupid.
“This is Shyam Lal College. And you’re here! You had to be IN FRONT OF Shyam Lal College. “I complained.
“This is Shyam Lal College. And I’m here. I am in front of Shyam Lal College. “He said, as if it was an obvious thing. I was about to debate strongly, but I was already drenched and I had a train to catch. So I jumped in and he drove. As the Go slid through the quiet dimlit silvery morning, I followed the drops rolling down the window glass. There was a mesmerising harmony in everything. Life was beautiful.
Half an hour later, I was dragging my bag through the rain. I had to hurry as the pouring had now become a torrent. Puddles went deeper than Mariana Trench and the ground was buried beneath a raging sea. It seemed like it could rain forever. If only I had a nice balcony and a hot girlfriend. And condoms. And some Samosas.
I raced towards platform number 3. It was 6 am.
To be continued….