A tedium filled wait in a queue, a triumphant dash into the Ooty bus and a huge struggle with two fat bags thro an aisle crowded with people trying to go both ways and finally Im settled into a window seat altho right above the hump of the wheel leaving me little space for bags and legs. Still, who can complain in the height of the Season.
People can, and the gold watched man settles into a seat near me. I say with true Tamilian spirit that I would prefer a woman sitting there. In smooth-over-things biz style he says he will move when a suitable woman turns up and settles in comfortably.
A minute later, Im up and running around. My cell phone is missing. It must have fallen from the special pocket in the handbag. I struggle thro the aisle again desperately looking for it; jump off and look for it on the ground and then have to 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 there 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 their seats.
They are further disappointed when they learn that its 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 cellphones 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 this loss? How do I turn over a new leaf and become more careful? Do I take up meditation seriously to become more calm and organized? Or should I follow these 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 when people still are commiserating with me. I accept all the condolences and slink back to my seat under the unplesant eye of my neighbour.
When I get off at Ooty, the conductor calls the phone again and tells me gently, if its still ringing you must have left it in some place. Please go and check. I say yes, smile gratefully and get off thankful that such souls still exist.