Commuting by the Delhi metro is infinitely more agreeable than the Mumbai local. It is air-conditioned, modern, platforms are clean and the steel/glass still shining. But one common denominator rules, of some elements in the crowd to be able to relieve you of your goods without any hint.
One warm sultry afternoon in June, I had decided to park at the Kalka Mandir metro station and use public transport to reach Jantar Mantar. I dreaded the Central Secretariat interchange which connects the Yellow line with the Violet. And this is definitely a challenge on the way back. A sea of humanity empties the Yellow line cascading towards the Violet line platform which are connected underground. In the absence of security guards, most people would rush themselves onto the railway tracks. They do a decent job of managing the rush.
On my return journey, a backpack on my shoulders, I patiently waited behind the yellow marking on the platform. As soon as the train arrived, the till-then restful crowd turned into a mob, dashing for the seats like frenzied pigs. I inched forward by virtue of the massive thrust of the line behind me, pulling up my feet alternately to prevent them from being pummeled by aggressive heels. Simultaneously, I also calculated that my phone would be safer in my front jeans pocket, my hands free to fend for myself. As I stepped from the platform onto the train, a petite girl in front of me slipped and fell down. Instinctively, I reached to help her up, as she scrambled to hold on my pants and some other support. Satisfied with myself for helping her make it through, I found a peaceful spot and ran my hands through my pockets like a checklist that I always do whenever I plough through a crowd like this. Voila, my phone was missing from my pocket. My face drained out right away and turned red, a lifetime of memory going blank, literally and figuratively. A few hysterical screams got attention from fellow passengers and the security, who immediately empathized with me. A kind gentleman offered his phone so that I could call up my number, which went dead after two rings. How naive to think I could get it back. Smartly plucked out from my supposedly safe pocket and slipped through various well-trained hands and far away from me already. Holding up the train would only upset others. Call up Airtel and deactivate the SIM card, counseled the kind gentleman.
The return ride suddenly seemed so much longer. My Sony Ericsson P990i was more than just a phone. It was a lot of reassurance to me too, knowing its weight and size would give me undue advantage if I was to be cornered in a dark alley. It could leave most mortals with a swell in their head and not flinch a bit. It has also protected me several times, not dissimilar to the ‘786 billa‘ that saved Amitabh Bachchhan’s life in Deewar so many times. A pertinent case, it once spared me the embarrassment of bending over forward while clutching my crotch, when one particular nasty ball came and hit me during a game of cricket. I was lucky to have the phone in my trouser pocket. It has also been subjected to missile trajectories whenever I have chided my four-year old, and he has vented his dissent on my unsuspecting phone resulting in many dents on our walls. In spite of all this, the phone had stuck to me loyally, transmitting voice signals back and forth on demand.
I fondly recalled the day when I brought it home making my pocket lighter by a princely Rs 28,000, a brazen amount of money to be spent on a mobile phone. I wanted to be cool. But six years is a long time for a phone. Most die or get disposed much before that. It was now old and weary. And standing in the train, suddenly I let out a soft chuckle. God help the new owner of the phone. Of late, it could do everything short of exploding like a nuclear device. Trust it to switch off when you are talking to your most important customer. The alarm definitely won’t ring the morning you want to catch the first flight of the day. It doesn’t connect to the charger pin even as you turn, twist and coil it’s wire around the phone in the hope some electrons will flow through. Suddenly I was not as depressed as I thought I was, probably more happy to have got rid of it than the robber excited about possessing a free one. I can safely go to my wife and proudly stake claim to the budget that we’ve been putting together for the new phone. She’s had 4 in 6 years, this was my only one. If you, the reader, don’t hear from me over the next few days, you know I will be busy drooling over the new metallic curve in my hand.
But yes, I will miss all the contact numbers and the personal notes I painstakingly wrote about each of you (don’t fret my, all of them were positive and extremely endearing remarks:). But new owner, I do not want you to call the contact list and read out the notes I have on them:(.
Now days, our lives is ruled by a few freak gadgets like the laptop and mobile phone. Lose them and you start from scratch. Meticulously accumulating all contacts again. I’ll be busy doing this over the next few days, rather weeks or even months.