I think it was this beautiful song, ‘Ik tara’, that I was listening to,as I waited patiently for the local train which would take me home from work. With the eyes on the platform, ears hand-in-glove with the earphones, peak-hour crowd ambling along restlessly, train chugging along carrying another set of passengers to be offloaded but not before being smothered and disregarded by all those people waiting to get in and grab that much-coveted seat causing a commotion before the commute back home,life was as run-of-the-mill as a Ravi Shastri-tracer bullet. I didn’t even get a feeling.
There’s probably another guy lurking somewhere around me, watching me silently, observing my every moment (from who knows when?), probably keener by a whisker when I take the phone out of my pocket to satisfy my screen-swiping urges(if there’s a scientific term for that, please insert here) or to scroll through an always active twitter timeline. He is also, most certainly,least interested in what I am doing with the phone.
Thats when the train slows down enough for people to force their way in without even bothering for the passengers to disembark- of course- all hell would break loose if one isn’t seated. Standing and commuting is an inconvenience of unimaginable proportions. Standing and commuting is for losers. Standing and commuting is for the weak-hearted. Standing and commuting is for those accused of immigration fraud by the US government.Standing and commuting is for the.. okay,I probably lost my train of thoughts there. Of course, if there’s anyone who’s right on track, they are those smart-and-indolent-as-hell commuters who spare themselves the agony of sailing against the Tsunami of people gushing out of the train- they simply drop that piece of cloth,newspaper,book, lunch box-whatever it is that they deem to be associated with them- or whatever isn’t precious enough to be out of their possession for a few seconds but precious enough to help them grab that seat. (Some unwritten rule in the unwritten constitution of Indian public transport etiquette says that any unreserved seat or berth in any means of public transport- from a bullock cart to a long-distance train- can be reserved by dropping anything belonging to the dropper of the said instrument of reservation who is also one of the numerous claimants to that piece of priceless real estate( whose worth is directly proportional to the crowd and the distance of the journey and actually not the price of the ticket) and that will be enough to lay claim to the comforts of a seated journey. In case there’s a conflicting and opposing claim made by a competing traveler, one can always go to any lengths, use any means, including, but not limited to the following options:1. A spirited debate 2. A slanging match 3. Getting involved in collar-pulling eventually leading to a fisticuff 4. By out-threatening the adversary. Of course if it is Delhi one can always make timely mentions of the power derived from their parentage(aka ‘tu-jaanta-nahin-mera-baap-kaun-hai’). Best is to have an intimidating physique. Usually that settles matters in the most peaceful manner. Anyway, I digress.
So as they go about reserving their seats through the window, they’re waiting to troll the hell out of another set of hapless people who’ve just about sailed through the said Tsunami and made it alive-dishevelled and scampering- only to find that all of the seats have been taken. Including the one at that corner which was available until the last fraction of a second when some mr.smartypants-from-hell drops his piece of cloth from outside the window,presenting a troll-face to you, and boom- its gone.
Only that, what’s gone is not just a place to sit in a crowded local train packed to bits for a 20-minute journey. That was the hollow sound of my heart skipping a few beats, a sound rushing in to fill the silence from the beats that had stopped playing in my ears, as the pocket suddenly feels empty and the hand reaches out for what is usually ensconced in there day in and day out – that connection to the rest of the world- that provider of gratification to restless fingers- that player of music to a soul perennially hungry for food- that source of a million jokes and a billion hashtags-that piece of a ticking scorecard- that piece of metal and glass and gloss- that iThing made by that company- that company which goes by the name of that fruit- that fruit which is supposed to keep that doctor away-that doctor or any doctor who has nothing to do with any of this…
And that, my dear friends, is how someone stole my beloved phone.
Its like you’re bitten by a snake and you don’t know that for a few seconds, but the moment you realize you’ve been stung, the pain shoots through your veins, leaving you paralysed in thought and action. Well, at least thats what happened to me as I ran around aimlessly hoping to see it dropped somewhere, spouting some gibberish to a squatting commuter ( which reminds me, this is another category of spirited commuters- who’ll take to the floor if their tsunami-sailing goes in vain) while somehow managing to convey to him that I was asking if he had seen an iPhone lying somewhere unclaimed.(Duh! An unclaimed iPhone, what was I thinking!) The guy then reacted in a manner that I don’t have words to describe. Simply saying “no, I haven’t seen any phone lying around” could have done, but no,empathy is for idiots. As I turned around blowing off the salt on my wound, I requested another gentleman with a legacy-phone,physical keypad and all, if I could use it to make a call to my missing phone. As he generously handed it to me, I struggled to dial my own number. Not that I didn’t remember it, but my fingers just wouldn’t move. Seeing my little struggle on that keypad, the gentleman offered to dial it for me. And in a very “what-else-did-you-think” manner, told me it was already switched off.
The last few days, I’ve been trying to come to terms with the theft of my smartphone. It’s an empty feeling. When you’re outside and want to listen to that song thats playing in your head. When you want to tweet your frustrations or bad jokes or something that nobody gives a damn about.When you want to check the score. When you want to engage in more whatsapp chatter. When you want to routinely put your hands in the pocket to feel your phone. When you want to click a cute moment with your 4 month old niece. Its a disconnect. It’s a massive wave of withdrawal symptoms. But, at the end of the day, its not a big deal. Life goes on. ‘Ik tara’ plays on again, popping up as the first song from a playlist in shuffle mode- this time on your laptop.
P.S. Hell no, life doesn’t just go on without a smartphone. I’m right now bisecting the line joining the two horns of a dilemma on whether I should surrender to my impulses and urges and get that new phone here or order it in the US and ship it to a friend who’ll get it for me next month.