Saturday, August 25, 2018

Tell me?

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?

Who says that! If the cabbies know their wipros and agaras, they get the heebie-jeebies when they see our pick up from H road and this was mr thief! Streetlight robber. He said he was driving and could not turnaround to look at the back seat (who gave him the licence to drive!). And that he would do that after haufnhower. We called him back after haufnhower, and the driver who had spoken perfectly understandable Hindi during the ride earlier in the evening was suddenly unable to understand Hindi or English. He asked husband to come to Silk Board (shiver, shiver). Husband asked him to come back to where he had dropped me – I kept whispering police-station, police-station. The line was disconnected. While we waited and I got another lecture on why I wouldn’t buy a better phone. What is that expected to mean! I should have lost …. gotten robbed of a more expensive phone? We can track our phones, you carry a useless dabba, I was told. I prefer to call it my phone, not i phone, ridiculous!

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.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Life, uninterrupted

Shefali Tripathi Mehta, JUL 28 2018

When in 2012, Savita Halappanavar died of sepsis in Galway, Ireland after being denied an abortion during a miscarriage, her death became a catalyst for the movement to repeal the amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which grants an equal right t...

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

एक दिन सपनों का राही, चला जाये सपनो के आगे कहाँ...

Even before social media denizens could 😮 or share the news that over one lakh students in Kerala left the caste-religion field in their school admission forms blank, the news that it was a technical error quietly came and stayed put within the folds of the print newspapers.
I did a partial cart-wheel because it said teachers may not have filled these because the fields were not ‘mandatory’! Yess!! Caste and religion have caused so much strife that many of us have come to believe that we are casteless and without a religion. But the happenings in the last few weeks make me wonder if these really are so condemnable.
As D, his brothers and uncle prepared to leave for Haridwar last week to immerse the remains of his father, my father-in-law at Har-ki-pauri in the Ganga, there was a lot of apprehension about how they will need to be wary of the pandas who would ‘pounce’ upon them and force them to perform unnecessary rituals and 'snatch' their money.
But the scene there was contrary to anything they had anticipated. They were asked who their kulpurohit – the priest of their clan – was. Since none of them knew this, they were asked for their caste, sub-caste and native place – these too were gleaned by making multiple phone calls home and idhar-udhar. But finally, when the subcaste and native place were established, they were lead through the narrow bylanes into the house of a young priest who opened his ledgers and …this is where the hair on my arms begins to stand, every time (!)… showed them one hundred years old records of their family.
The priest told them that 95 years ago, their grandfather had come from Daud Khel, District Mianwali, Pakistan to perform the last rites of his brother! There were records of several other, subsequent visits of family/extended family/clan members to Haridwar. The pandit also asked them to meet him whenever they return so he may update all records of births and marriages too.
They still write by dipping the nibs of their pens into a special ink. So of course, the IT people from Bangalore had to tell them that they should digitize the records. Ha!
And ignoramus me! Living without a clue about this and trying, with the help of elders and cousins to trace our ancestors on both sides and draw family trees...