This short – fiction (or probably a true) giggle - gig story of a guy named Steyn is dedicated to all those who can relate to an important event, because to be frank, my heart really goes out to all those who have lost their loves to this magical city. Your love - whatever, a sleeky Blackberry, a smart Iphone, a hardcore Nokia, yes your phones, Cell phones, because every 1 out of 5 or 6 people living for quite a time in this city will tell you on how they lost their beloved device.
Yes, The Pinch! That’s what this great Indian city Mumbai does to you sometimes. Mumbai, probably globe’s 5th largest metropolitan, India’s economic powerhouse and home to a population of approximately 20.5 million has a story to tell you every day.
It was a pleasant lazy Monday morning and Steyn was still napping in the bus he took to reach Malad suburban station from where he was going to catch a ’local’ to his office in Santacruz,. Ignoring the fact that he was sitting next to the damsel whom he will stalk on the bus - station and try skip his breakfast to catch the bus the same time she did. It wasn't worth it though, an everyday affair of their eyes meeting, htne dropping, and i any of the two felt necessary, smile thrown out! That was it.
‘Holla Holla’…rang Akon…Err..I mean his month old Blackberry. He just brought new smart business phone, and infact a couple of days before changed his cellular service provider to enjoy the comfort of the services this phone offered.
“Hey Sweet Morning Steyn! Yo just missed it love. I wish you were here. It was a hell good of a weekend trip we guys had! We found a good new place to take a break off the city. Bon - fire, seek lunch..all fun! It’s better than your peacock garden, where one has to get up even before sun does. This place was full of migratory birds too and you already know you sitting in the office whole day in front of your machine developing that fat old tummy right in front of you. So you gotta shake it and better dare it next time you miss something like this” - that was Preity, always full of life and yes, of course, the words.
“I know I did, I just checked the new pictures Niks added in there.”- I replied.
After the call, he gave a smile to the damsel sitting next to her. She smiled back. That was a routine thing that they both would do past a month. May be Steyn realizes, that it all starts and end with eyes meeting up and smiles ending it down.
He peeped out of the window. It was drizzling, it was all wet outside. The little drops entering his side. Smell of the rain - water hitting the ground, the best perfume in the world, which no French de toilette can match, brought him the freshness every being would wish for.
Beating the traffic but not the time off course, bus reaches the suburban railway station. Everyone around him is running, not exactly, but they atleast not walking. The damsel suddenly disappeared in the crowd. The everyday countdown has just begun to be witnessed. He gave a look at his wrist. It said 9.05 am already. “Gosh I gotta catch that 9.10 slow” - he murmured to himself. He turned a hungry man presented with a banquet, for whom the distance as far as his 1st class on platform No.2 stand was his feast - a feast so staggering that everyday it completely destroyed his appetite.
After reading it with brisk walk, he prioritizes his task of reaching the 1st class stand and accelerates himself. He walks up the steps of foot - bridge with something kinetic from crowd proportionally dragging him sometimes to his right, sometimes left.
There it is. Finally. Platform No.2 was full of life, I mean full of breathes. It was jam - packed, full of everyday business. The vendor stalls, the newspaper selling boys, the stinky fish smell, the ladies of all genre and the gentlemen, all looking hooked up. The south - bound trains passing the platforms with hancock speed, but you could feel the life, the freshness of the morning, if you could keep aside the raw stinky fish smell by blocking your nose with a perfume puffed handkerchief.
9.10 am Churchgate slow about to leave the platform, and people all ova it; the ‘no admission’ pavements, the straps of every car where hanging outside their capacity. Young bloods with handkerchief scarfed over their head were standing dangerously on the hooks in the middle of every car, ignoring the warning the sugar - coated voice from the announcement mikes was sharing especially for the commuters who loved flirting with their life, only to save some annoying 10 minutes of their day. And yes, sometimes, finding women hanging out of the cars too. The way they caught themselves
It was all a hasstle everyday. But, Steyn loved it. He loved the everyday energy this city generated. Charging up your life, spicing your life. He just loved the 25000 Volt energy this city generated and within 6 months of his new job, he was completely absorbed in loving this as always. Life was worth spicy - fast in this beach city, but he wished the climate helped the people enjoy it too. This city was dead humid, sweating you out even when you don’t feel like starting a day like that.
Message tone beeps. ‘Good Morning Steyn! From Paris, with love :-p!’
From Paris, with love..no no the message wasn’t sent from Paris, nether was it sent by some Frenchmen. It was to remind Steyn what he and the sender missed before quitting their last job. An official visit to the romantic city of Paris for a month to support clients on the applications, which they both knew was coming their way, but they still quit. After all, they gave so much of effort to earn the position they both enjoyed in their last department. But, it was cheesy rather not smart at all of them to leave that opportunity, when they knew it wasn’t easy the next time with a new start..wasn‘t it!? Steyn retaliated with a naughty smile.
“Train arriving on platform No.2 is fast local for Churchgate. This train will not halt at ….”. The honey coated voice announced.
“Holycow! My cripes! I gotta wait for the next train. I just hope I’m not late for the 10 am meeting. I never wanna walk those steep skywalk steps in Santacruz at the heist of my breathe atleast this pleasant monday morning. “ - Steyn said to himself. This time he was standing on the other pole - side of the platform where he usually used to, only because he thought he would catch the 9.10, which was packed in and out.
He looked at his wrist again, realizing it was 20th May. “Oh goodness! Its Sandra’s birthday! So stupid of me. How could I miss wishing her? She would queue, tray calling me at strike 12 on my birthdays!” - his expressions turned embarrassing suddenly.
He took the phone out and called up Sandra. After wishing her up and apologizing for some 10 odd minutes, he realized that the fast train is gone and he could see the train he was looking ahead to catch arriving slowly to the station.
He hanged up and looked around. It was a normal busy day at the platform, and this train was an old rack. Not the latest racks with 9 bogies, unlike the 12 - bogie new racks that were introduced recently. So, he knew, his fight is going to be not that easy today.
He kept the phone in his right pocket of the trouser hurriedly and jumped towards the 1st class compartment. It was a herd of people trying to catch anything whatever they could to make some space where even a rotten would hate to place itself. The raven - voices where all over shouting to make spaces..the time was short…. Steyn used his shoulders and pushed the herd inway to make same way for him to get into the train. The was then dragged in by a large chunk of crowd from behind. Today, 1st class seemed to be more packed up than usual, or blame the old 9 - rack train they released at this peak hour. It didn’t make any sense.
The crowd behind him dragged him more to the already no comfort zone. Already, you actually don’t look for comfort, what you look for is some air to breathe in, and unlike the new rack, old racks didn’t have the best of ventilators. It was hollow dark inside. Steyn could all see were few eyes and struggling shoulders.
After 15 minutes of troubled drag - and - drop, It was Santacruz station finally. The compartment still looked more packed than everyday. The train slowed down and Steyn pushed himself out of the crowded queue which was looking to get down at the station. Steyn was on the platform. He could now breathe in some air. Sigh of relief could be seen on his and everybody’s face.
He moved his hand into his right trouser - pocket to pull out his handkerchief. The old rack - train was still about to leave the station. Hold on! Where’s the phone? Steyn moved his hand again over the pocket. He could feel his wallet but not the phone. It took him nothing of a time to realize that he was pinched. He hurriedly looked back and gave an eye into the compartment from where he got down. But, suddenly he stopped his nerves and calmed them down. He knew now it was all over and this wasn’t going to help. He calmed his nerves and shrugged his head. A smile drew on his face which was the most sarcastic and lost mankind could ever imagine. He knew and it didn‘t take him much time to realize his phone was picked. Pair of or even more than a pair of eyes were watching him put that sleekly black device while boarding the train. Everything and everyone looked simple silly minding their business while he was boarding the train. Hmm.. He was right; everyone looked simple silly and few did mind their business well this morning. He was pinched like many, the Mumbai way.