So I had to be somewhere today... like somewhere really important. I mean on an importance scale of 1 to 10 I’d rate it a perfect ten. One being alright-since-I-have-nothing-better-to-do-and-these-tickets-were-gifted-by-the-local-radio-station and ten being hey-bhagwaan-mai-ne-aaj-tak-tujhse-kuch-nai-manga-but-aaj-mangti-hun...aaj time pe pohncha de har Tuesday mtha tekne aaungi. I am hoping you are getting the picture so far.
Now since it was an important day – I decided planning ahead of time – something that I am accused of not doing by all and sundry.
Not only did I decide beforehand as to what I was supposed to wear but I also ironed and hung my formals the night before (huh! In your face haters!)
Next, I dug out from a never-ending pile of footwear (Yes, I am a proud owner of one hundred and twenty thousand pair of shoes) a very formal pair of ballerinas to go with my ensemble (as opposed to the pink and yellow butterfly print peep toe that I usually end up wearing.) Even though they did not really require I still polished them with as much care and attention as people polish their teeth with. In the end I even applied Vaseline to them like those make-belief mothers do to their toddlers in some baby oil commercials. They looked happy, my shoes.
Then I sorted my documents in order-placed them in a file and rechecked them once again. (Wow! I could picture my mother shedding a khushi ka aansu back home– her daughter so responsible- so grown up)
At one point even the whacky thought of getting up at five and doing everything before time crossed my mind but afraid of stretching it too far I decided against it and put an alarm for seven.
So I had to reach by 1 but I called the cab (yes, a cab and not an auto) at 11 only so as to not appear as I had just landed from the secret land of Narnia and this place was practically an hour’s drive from my place – WHICH THANKS TO OUR BLOODSUCKING PETROL PRICES MEANT A MONTH LONG BAN ON THE BASIC NEEDS OF LIFE. But I was unperturbed. I could survive on water but I needed to be there at 1.
Whenever I am too worried, nervous or running late – I tend to lose stuff- so I decided against carrying my handbag lest I lose it and just picked up a wallet- my perfectly organised file and some extra chiller (These cab wallahs, I thought, are always mooching money off us in the name of ‘sorry-mam-no-change’) Usually if the meter says say 270 they are always in a hurry to round it to 300 but today there was no way that – that was going to happen. In anticipation, I kept plenty of ten and twenty rs bills with me.
I wanted to be the most prepared candidate there ever was, after all.
As was the plan I reached the office – well in time. The sense of victory and perfection refused to leave me alone. And what was even better was the fact that meter said seven hundred and thirty bucks. Proud of my anticipatory planning- I took out one thousand and thirty ruppes.
‘Here you go,’ I said rather smugly, handing him the money and dying to see the look of disappointment on his face.
‘Madam khulla nai hai,’ he replied point blank.
‘Arrey khula dia to,’ I laughed, at the obvious mistake that the poor fellow had made.
‘Arrey madam hazar ka khula nai hai,’ he replied keeping the thirty bucks and returning me the thousand rupee note.
Oh Boy Charlie! I did not see this coming. Surely he did not expect me to tip him an extra three hundred bucks.
I looked at him.
He looked back at me.
I looked helplessly at him.
He looked even more helplessly at me.
Surely, he was not going to do anything about it. Angered at this unforeseen turn of events – I snatched the thousand rupee not from him and got out in the humid-humid weather in search of a kind stranger who could give me hazar ka chutta. All I could see within a range of 500 meters were parked cars and some more parked cars. Right then My baby ballerinas which had not been worn in last two years started to bite. This weather and a shoe bite on each foot – so much for the perfect horoscope that I read aloud to myself in the morning, I rolled my eyes.
Little did I know that It was going to get so much better.
After about twenty minutes of looking around I finally managed to find a kind old security guard (of the same building where I was supposed to sit for an interview) who reading my panic stricken face decided to help. He did not have the change but gave me the money like that only saying that I could return it once my interview was done. I thanked him with all my heart and returned to where my cab was parked- which-not exaggerating- was almost half a km away.
I threw the money on his face and he was all set to leave when all of a sudden something struck my mind.
‘Wait a minute,’ I shouted rather angrily, not being the one who could be taken for a ride, 'my file is in there,'I opened the cab and took out my file.
‘Loser,’ I murmured, as I turned, our angry gaze meeting each other’s.
And off he went.
It was almost half an hour to one and I still had some walking to do- besides all this running to and fro in such humidity- was making me sweat like a overflowing water tank.
I must have been mid way towards the office when I heard something going chap-chap-chap –chap from under my shoe. Yes, the sole had given way and was getting dragged alongside the strap like an uninterested ‘too cool for school’ teenager.
Quick think something – You can get out of this – May be if I stick a chewing gum in between the sole and the base- That ought to do the trick. The Mentos girl in me had finally woken up. (Remember the commercial where she oh-so-convinently takes both the heels off on one being broken)
But, as someone strictly against plagiarism, I wanted to be original – hence the chewing gum idea! Tada!
Luckily, for me I had a pack of gum sticks in my wallet- see for a girl so troubled- not too shabby after all – so i saw no harm in saving myself a pat for later.
But hey, wait a minute, where the fuck was my wallet?
Shit! In the cab – I turned towards the cab stand right that second- that being a “guarded” area no unauthorised vehicles were allowed to enter. There was no sign of the cabbie. So much for my not-forgetting-the-file, I fucking forgot my wallet.
Immediately I called him on his phone.
I Called Again.
No Answer again.
Precious time was being lost. A little relieved that there was not a lot of money in it anyway I decided to walk back to the interview place. Dragging my half broken shoe, I must have taken not more than ten steps when both my blunder of a pair of shoes broke into so many pieces that within three seconds I was standing shoe less in impeccable formals in middle of nowhere.
Holy Moly was I in a pickle now?
(It was seeming so un-fucking-believable. I mean breaking of the sole is one thing but both the shoes going tak-tak-tak into several pieces together at one point of time is quite another.)
Those of you who don’t believe me try buying a pair of shoe from ‘shoetree’. (Yes, I am not afraid to name the brand.) And then try hiding them for two years and then wear them on your fucking interview – You might just be where I was.
Shoeless and stranded in a parking lot – because without shoes- let’s face it you are pretty much stranded- anywhere.
I had to do something, I knew. But what? I had no clue. The mere thought of appearing in my interview shoeless was enough to make me feel drowsy.
‘Good afternoon Sir, may I come in and no sir, I do not believe in the institution of shoes.’
My friend T – she worked just nearby – May be I should call her and ask if she could lend me a pair of shoes – although the sheer absurdity of the question was making me cringe. 25 missed calls later, I finally gave up. No, she is not picking.
Panicking I called up my mom- woke her up from her mid afternoon nap- and narrated the entire story to her.
‘Haan beta mai ne bhi suna that kisi ke saath aisa hua tha,’ mom parted her wisdom, ‘She was my old friend, now she has shifted to Siligudi with her family......’
Sorry mom I hung up on you that time but you didn’t quite understand the gravity of the situation. To make matters worse it had started to drizzle and it was so so windy. One by one the parts of the heap I once called my shoes was all lost in the wind.
Next, what do I do? What do I do? People had started staring, you know.
After another five minutes of mulling over the situation – I did the unthinkable. I called my ex’s elder brother – someone, to say the least, I had not been in touch with for last three years I guess. And guess what, when nothing else worked or no one else could help. Like a real brother he rescued me in the nick of time- he came as soon as he could manage. We went to a nearby market and I walked into a shoe shop- shoeless. The salesman mocked me. I bought the next available pair of shoe at an exorbitant price – because usually sellers are accused of taking advantage of a customer’s necessity but here the customer had walked right into the trap and that too shoeless.
Quickly we returned to the scene of crime and I was relieved to make way into the hall after paying the kind security guard his due – right on time. So much for my “planning ahead” urghhhh – With Hair strewn apart and kohl all smudged and feet dirtier than ISBT Delhi- I barged in.
‘Hello, I have an interview at 1 with Mr. So and so...’ I blurted.
‘Sorry mam, the interview has been postponed for the 29th of July,’ pat replied the receptionist.
‘What?’ I exclaimed.
‘Yes, did you not know?’
‘No. no. of course I knew. I just like a little adventure you see.’ I wanted to say but chose not to.
Cursing myself I turned and walked out of the office.
(ONE THING I LEARNT TODAY – YOU CAN PLAN ALL THAT YOU WANT- THAT TOO WAY AHEAD IN TIME – BUT ITS HIM WHO MAKES THE FINAL PLANS) Him as in God - not the cab wala.
So sometimes its okay to prepare right that second and go with the flow (for if I had ended up wearing my same regular ballerinas none of this would have happened I am sure.)
Oh and on a lighter side the cab driver called me about an hour later and returned me my wallet safe and sound. And if I really really have to see a silver line – it was knowing that some people- no matter what- will be there for you!