After a week of spending day in and day out at Pickwick's bedside, until he was pretty much sick of my face, I decided both my son and I needed a break. So, entrusting him in the care of good ol' poppy and mommy, I decided to use the services of the car to step out for a few books for self and son as I would have to continue the long vigil by his bedside. Now before I stepped out, Poppy gave me the number of the driver- a chap called Rajesh. Considering Poppy had about 15 -odd entries under the title 'driver', I have no clue, how he was unerringly able to pick out this particular chap's number, but I supposed he must have some kinda system worked out.
Things started out tamely enough, and after battling the usual 'schumis-in-training' style driving and other sundry folk with a death wish calmly crossing the road at arbitrary points, thus ensuring a steady stream of patients being treated by the local physiotherapists for whiplash, we arrived at or chosen dest. - the local roadside bookshop.
Now the driver, having discovered that the whole of Kochi had suddenly decided to become bookworms, couldn't find a parking spot anywhere close to the venue. Thus it was decided between his broken English and my broken Malayalam and some rudimentary sign language, that he'd be hovering around somewhere, circling the area and when I'd finished, I just needed to call him up, and he'd whizz along to pick me up (thank you mobiles!).
It took me all of fifteen minutes to browse, haggle (having thus brought the price of my purchases down by a princely 10 rupees) and bag my loot. Patting myself on a job well done, I was feeling refreshed, all set to face another week at the Hosp. All that was left was to summon the car and hop in.
Two calls later, the driver wasn't answering. Maybe he's battling traffic, I though. Lord knows you need all you wits about you in this city. I gave it one more shot.
On the fifth ring I hear ' 'Allo?'
Me:Ah. Erm... Yes, It's me. Come along then.
silence. Then ' yaaru aana? '
My rudimentary understanding of the language led me to say ' Now is not the time to start babbling about elephants, man. Is there some kind of procession out on the street? Hop to it! I'm waiting in the middle of the road. You can't miss me. I look exactly the same as I did half an hour ago'
More silence. Followed by some panicked mumbling and the phone being handed over to someone, who I hoped would have a bit more sense. ' 'Allo?' Here we go again...
Me: Ah. yes. This car you're in. It needs to pick me up from where the chappie's dropped me.'
The other voice: No, no! this car is now someone else!
Now this made no sense (unless you were in a transformer movie). I was assuming he meant it was now going to pick someone else up. But who? The grandparents were safely ensconced by Pickwik's bedside in charge of amusing the fella. This only meant that the chappie was doing 'nuther pick up on the job. NOT a good day to pull a double shift on the sly!
'Now listen here, Rajesh,' I say sternly, in my best 'naughy Pickiwck' voice, 'that's my car you're driving.' well, OK, so it was Dad's car, but we don't want to confuse the fella by getting into semantics now. 'You just turn right around and get back here. I'm standing opposite 'sea lord' hotel. You can't miss me.' (yes, 'Sea Lord'. and yes, it did have a picture of a merman. Can we please stop giggling and concentrate on the matter at hand, people? We may have a potential car -jacking in progress!)
'Okay! Okay!! we come now, madam!' says the panicked aide-de-Rajesh.
Much better. I think to myself. You gotta be stern with these sorts. There no point in... thoughts interrupted by urgent ringing of phone. It was dad. 'Hey Pops!' I say. 'You'd never believe...'
Pops: Nevermind all that, sense. This driver, Rajesh
me: yes, yes, I know. would you believe it?
pops: you do? but how, dash it? and erm.. HOW?
me: Pops, calm down! I've got it under control. I told him to come pick me up right away, see?
Pops: Told who? From where?
me: (cue much eye rolling and accepting the fact that pops might be hitting senility a tad early) Rajesh. From where I'm standing.
pops: But you couldn't have. You don't have his number
me: (doing a quick mental check on symptoms : memory loss, gibbering... maybe a brain scan was in order) You gave me the number, Pops, remember? I called him up. The Chap was acting funny at first, but I gave him a proper talking to. He'll be down here in no time.
pops: Ah. Er. Sense... see that number I gave you, well, it's for Rajesh alright, but this Rajesh isn't the right Rajesh. This is another Rajesh who isn't exactly driving our car at the mo'. In short, it's the wrong Rajesh.
The head swam. I tottered. I needed to sit down. I waited for the chorus of Right Rajesh and Wrong Rajesh to die down.
'So the poor sod...' I whispered...
But Poppy wasn't through yet...
pops: but don't worry poppet - I've spoken to the right Rajesh - the one who's actually driving our car, not the wrong Rajesh, who's probably in someone else's car... and he's on his way to pick you up. Right-ho, then. Pip-pip.
and just on cue, 'Right -Rajesh' arrives with the vehicle.
I meekly got into the vehicle and drove to the hospital in silence. I wasn't coming out again until sanity had returned to the world. And parents stopped naming their offspring Rajesh.
In the meanwhile, somewhere out there is a Rajesh, who's undergoing counselling coz he quivers uncontrollably everytime the phone rings.