Under Experience, Humour, Kalyani Chidambaranathan, Stopping to Stare
My cell phone is missing. It must have fallen from the special slot on the outside of my handbag…
A tedium-filled wait in a queue, a triumphant dash into the bus to Ooty and a huge struggle with two fat bags through an aisle crowded with people trying to go both ways, and finally I’m settled in a window seat although right above the hump of the wheel leaving me little space for bags and legs. Still, who can complain in the height of the tourist season?
People can. When a man with a gold watch settles in the seat next to me, I say with true Tamilian spirit that I would prefer a woman sitting next to me. In smooth-over-things businessman style he says he will move when a woman turns up, and settles himself comfortably.
A minute later, I’m up and running. My cell phone is missing. It must have fallen from the special slot on the outside of my handbag. I struggle through the crowded aisle again desperately looking for it; jump off the bus and look for it on the ground, and then run after the bus which has started off and leap on!
The situation explained, people take the number and start calling. No results in the bus. The conductor stops the bus. About 10 men get off, we all close into the fascinated queue left standing, and everyone is ringing the number, walking up and down and waiting suspiciously for it to answer from some lout’s pocket. There is no answering call and the men climb back onto the bus, sad that they could not help this damsel in distress! Never mind that just a few minutes ago, they would have climbed over my fallen body to get themselves a seat.
They are further disappointed when they learn that it’s a low end phone that is missing. Not much drama in that. Still they discuss the modus operandi of the gang that now operates in bus stands and skims cell phones in the melee.
Every 5 minutes people try the number to locate it and disturb the thief. I am biting my finger nails now. How can I explain the loss of yet another phone to my husband? How do I get a job soon to earn money to make up for this loss? How do I turn over a new leaf and become more careful? Do I take meditation up seriously to become more calm and organised? Or should I follow higher souls and give up time-wasters like cell phones?
I borrow one from my prosperous neighbour and call home to ask them to check whether I have left it behind. He glares at me.
At a halfway stop I rush to a payphone and call again. Have they found it? They have and it seems to be ringing every third minute! I tell them to switch it off but they have no idea how to. I ask them to ignore it and rush back to the bus. I dare not confess my blunder when people are still commiserating with me. I accept all the condolences and slink back to my seat under the unpleasant eye of my neighbour.
When I get off at Ooty, the conductor calls the phone again and assures me gently that if it is still ringing I must have left it some place. Please go and check. I say yes, smile gratefully, and get off the bus thankful that such souls still exist.
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