Honest question - if you get off a cab and realize ten minutes later that you have left something behind, what would you do? You will call the cabbie. What if you can’t? What if it’s your phone that you have left behind?!
I left my phone in a cab late Thursday night and realised it only after I had finished describing everything that the new Cakewala outlet of Jayanagar in HSR had, what the girls were wearing and how the going-wali cab was taking a totally opposite route at first, saying he did not know where HSR was!
So when I raised the phone-nahi-mil-raha alarm, there was no reaction from fam. It is a usual bhedia aaya panic that ends 10 seconds later as I find it slipped into some mysterious pocket of my big bag or keeping page inside a book I was reading. They give me a minute and then call my number. So, no one stopped watching TV, no one eased themselves out of the bottom of the beanbag. After the customary one minute, the B F Skinners of my fam, proceeded to pick their phones and call me. The phone did not ring in any corner of the house, not in the sofa gap, not in the shoe rack, nor inside a shoe.
The phone was switched off!
It was in the car. Someone had switched it off. But we had to be sure so we ransacked the house, pulling out jammed drawers where I found a long-lost favourite hairclip and called out to the search team in glee – galti-galti!
Not a fan of the Olas and the Ubers, after one of these had all my money emptied out when the driver did not ‘end’ the trip and there was no one to call for help. The March 2017 complaint is still generating the auto (!) reply of ‘we have received your request…’.
The three of us on three different phones tried calling customer support and all the other numbers we could find on the Internet but to no avail.
Then the girl tweeted asking the cab service to help. They tweeted back with the car and driver details and said that if the driver is not responsive, we would need to file an FIR and that they would cooperate with the police. It was 9.30 PM. So, while dinner was being eated, punctuated by clam downs, one phone was constantly dialling the driver’s phone. It was ‘busy’, ‘not-answering’, ‘unreachable’ by turns. Finally, when he picked it, husband spoke like he’d just found an old friend on the old boys whatsapp group, 'Bhai <...>
, bring it back, no?
Pati’s phone rang again and what ensued was a typical Bollywood goonda-type operation – three full hawers too. The caller spoke in English (Rabert) claiming to be a friend of the cabbie, said it was too late and they would come in the morning. Pati insisted they come right away (bad idea, bad idea).
At 11.30, we received a call to come to the petrol bunk on the arterial road (police station, police station, I whispered in vain). We managed to persuade them to come up to where they had dropped me.
I made husband eat mother-promise, father-promise that he will not go alone, he, in turn, glared at me and said I must stay put, I threw the threat at the girl and hurried after him out the door disguised as the doodhwala on cycle in the north india winter (Bangalore weather is the only thing one can trust in times of crisis, sigh!).
Husband stepped out of the main gate, I hid in the shadows to watch. The security looked at the shawl-wrapped me and came out of their post to take position at the gate, stuffing their hands in their pockets, their feet at stand-at-ease, ready for action (!!) I jumped out of my hideout to hide behind them for a better view.
Two men were reclining in a stationary cab, I squinted at the number, and made a head-nod ishara to D (pity he wasn't looking at me). As he approached it, the front passenger door opened and a man walked out, all the way around the car towards D. The other, my erstwhile cabbie, the one who was capable of forgetting languages, capable of not looking at the backseat of his car while driving. I kept my eyes peeled on him and felt brave about this decision – if he moves his hand towards the ignition, I will... do something.
Rabert walked up to D and handed him the phone. It had been switched on! I saw its moonface ❤️flash on D's. And now Rabert was walking all the way around and back into the car. Next, D was leaning into the car and there were words being exchanged, I knew this is where the guns will be pulled out, this was where we're all going to die! I won't be able to do anything. D gave them the money for the trip (we could have made an up-and-down trip to the airport with that). There were words being exchanged again. The cabbie had found his tongue – he wanted D to send him a message that he had returned the phone – it was as threatening as Radhika Apte's, hamare beech jo kuch hua, con-sen-sual- tha!
The chor, my phone and I
PS: The title is the 'hello' mostly.
PPS:It was clear that the intent was wrong – thankfully my phone has a passcode and I had logged out of all email accounts and FB, delinking the device – meanwhile, a dimwit at the phone service provider continued with the process of stopping outgoing telling us too late that all my contacts would be erased.