27th of November, 2009
The entire day had gone by in completion of the vestiges of the packing procedure. All that remained outside were my clothes that I had decided to peel off and shove into the baggage at the last moment. And the Studio 15, which at that moment was showcasing the story of Scheherazade in a slightly interesting manner. Vidarbha Express was scheduled to reach the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at around 7.10, and Dadar at around 7.30, but it was the Kalyan Station I was contemplating disembarking upon, where it was to arrive at 8.13.
About 5 ‘o’ clock…
Mistri came into the room and asked me when it was that I planned to leave.
“In half an hour maybe.”
“What! Where are you going? CST?”
“Then why are you leaving so early?”
Here is one lesson in life that got imprinted in my mind, and shall hopefully remain etched on it forever.
Here it is.
Lesson in Life no.1:- Never believe a man who you believe is a bigger nincompoop then you.
“’Coz it takes 5 minutes to Kalyan, asshole! You will just get bored in there. When’s the train due over there?”
“About 8 pm”
“No pain then. Leave around 7 pm. Maybe I can accompany you then.”
I was not the one to dissent this kindly offer. An extra pair of hands for manoeuvring your luggage is, if I am not wrong, welcome everywhere.
“Where are you going now?” I asked him, noticing a dishevelled bag in his grasp.
“Swimming. Wanna tag along?”
“No, I think I will save my energy for later.”
Around 6.30 pm…
I went up to Mistri’s room. Panic seized me as I saw it bolted and locked. The corridors presented a picture of desolation, and I, realizing that time was simply a commodity I couldn’t afford to lose at the moment, sped on, tossing things pell-mell into the bag. I noticed Rohit was still in his room, and he offered company which the first sight of an available Autowallah was to end. Evening Traffic rules the roost just outside the Insti’s main gate, and that was where the Autowallah left me to face it’s maniacal manifestation.
Horrendous honking, shrill shrieking, fulminous fumes being emitted endlessly by the automobiles pervaded the air as I scrutinised the roads for a gracious glimpse of an empty available Auto. Even the anticipation was to be, as I discovered, in vain.
I flailed my arms, raised ‘em high upto the heavens akin to Gospel Singers proclaiming ‘Hallelujah!’. I, on the other hand, proclaimed “Khali Ho Jaa!”
The sleek dial of the Tommy Hilfiger clasped on my wrist confided to me that it was 6.50 at the moment.
I braced myself for a last ditch attempt, after which, I had decided I was gonna walk to the Kanjurmarg station. I raised my hands in an Authoritative manner, and in a commanding voice, rent a cry of “AUTO!” in the air.
To my utter disbelief, an auto skidded to a stop mere decimetres away from me.
Hauling my luggage, I made my way towards it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a group of Baais making way for the same auto. Redoubling my locomotion, I arrived at the spot just as the Auto chugged away with them in tow.
Chagrin assailed me, but it was no moment to wallow in self pity. I hauled the luggage once again, and started the tiresome descent to the station, the entire time keeping my eyes on the road in case a bus careened off and ran over.
A Sturdy Surd emerged out of nowhere, asking me the directions for Kanjurmarg station. I told him I was headed the same way, and all he had to do was to follow my lead. I struck up a conversation, during which the mystery regarding his presence here was unravelled. He had been on a laptop hunting spree for his girlfriend who had her birthday the succeeding day. The unfortunate soul’s car had broken down and to top it all he had suffered a fate similar to mine.
We walked side by side, the Sardar making it apparent every 48 seconds that he was not the one for long walks. Even short walks. Actually, walks in general. We now, what had seemed to me, were five minutes away from our destination, and spotted a fleet of empty autos standing at the side of the road. Sardar asked me if we should take one. Here was where I learnt the second one.
Lesson in Life no. 2:- Always take an empty Auto when you see one.
I replied in the negative, saying it was just round the corner. But as I dragged my bag on its wheels (the purpose of the wheel that off lessening the friction, was, it seemed, entirely forgotten by it) the load it seemed was steadily on the rise. Sardar offered to help, but I declined.
About 7.30 pm…
I broke into the middle of the ticket counter queue, requesting a corpulent office-goer in the front to buy me a ticket to Kalyan. The Sardar was lost to me amidst the milling crowd. Clutching the ticket, which, I realized, I had obtained within 2 minutes of having entered the Booking Office for the first time in my life, I ran to the platform.