On Chennai Streets: My Ola Share Story

In my younger or I should rather say my more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. He said

“Despite time being infinite, your time is limited, your time is running out. Your hour’s and someone else’s hour are not equal. You cannot spend it in the same way other’s spend, you cannot think of it in the way others do. Do what you wish to do. Don’t waste your time. If you want to do something, you have to do it now. If you have to say something you have to say it now. It’s your life. You are the one who loses it.”

He didn’t say anymore, but we have always been communicative in a reserved way, and I know that he means a great deal more than that. In consequence, I inclined to keep all his suggestions, but the abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to a quality which in terms of my father is ‘found in unsuccessful people’.

On April 25, 2016, almost three months back, I entered an office for the second time in a full-time job and began my career in the corporate sector. A few years ago, I wrote a note in my diary. It was ‘I’ll become a wiser, better-looking dude in a well-polished black leather shoes, a suit and a tie.’ That’s when I decided I’ll do M.B.A and started preparing for C.A.T. After that, it became a practice to move, to make things happen. I worked in a rhythm and landed up in NITIE. I enjoyed the moment and the feeling of getting my dream Job when at NITIE. A job that is giving me more than “enough” money. Or at least enough to commute by Cab than by a public transport. I sometimes work late: Majority of the times the return on investment of those hours sucks. But, One fine day something happened which made me realize that the world is a big place—much bigger than the set of friends or office colleagues, I have —it’s full of people, people whom I don’t know.

It was not long since Ola had started Ola Share in Chennai, and since Royal Enfield takes more than 2 Months to deliver the bike you order, and since I work till 10:00-10:30 most of times and since “I earn enough now” to commute by Cab. I booked an OLA share and was fortunate enough to carpool with a woman, the woman of my dreams.

The first 5 minutes with HER

It takes a little while for everyone and most importantly for the girls to explain to their parents who are miles away from you that 1. I had work, so got late for home and 2. I didn’t have dinner and 3. I booked an Ola Share and not a Micro or a Mini and 4. I am travelling with a total stranger who’s sitting right next to me and 5. I am absolutely safe. 6. It’s a metro city so relax and ……..

 

She got off the phone, plugged in her EARPHONES, and acted as if she’s deaf and mute. I tried glancing at her through the corner of my eye, rear view mirror and almost every other indirect ways I could think of.

“You are on the fastest route. You will reach your destination in 40 minutes”, the Google Map’s lady said in her American accent.

And as the cab moved. She opened up the window and her hair fluttered in the air, her clothes clung to her body, and she tightly wrapped her arms around her. She was looking outside ‘The Window Seat’ and I took it as a chance to look at her. Her face said she is in the early twenties and an I-Card around her neck said she works in M.N.C too, just like me. Suddenly she moves her head and locks her eyes on mine as her finger touches the Earphones in her ears.

“I am sorry I didn’t ask you and opened the window. Is it bothering you? I will shut it if you want!” she said

She had a voice that was like music under the summer breeze, almost lost against the noise of the traffic. Yet somehow it took hold of me, making me want to listen for more

“It’s absolutely fine. Not a problem” I said

She smiled and then gripped her phone in her right hand, tapping her thumb against the smooth screen. I glanced down at her fingernails. They were coral pink with a mat finish. It was matching with her dress, a Parrot & Pink Color cotton embroidered Kurti with Pink leggings.

I had to rip my eyes away from her every time she took her eyes away from the screen of her phone. She was typing fast with her slender thumbs, a green bangle tapped the screen edge once in a while. She paused to look at me and just as quickly looked away again.

 

The next 15 minutes

There is something about Old Mahabali Puram(O.M.R.) road that leads to Sholinganalur. It’s glorious at night. Just glorious. As the car crosses 100 km/hour mark, the wind flutter’s your clothes away, and you kind of squint from the lights overhead, and the radio is loud, and then there it is. The City. A million lights and shops and everything seem as exciting as the first time you see Chennai. After about three songs I realized my phone’s battery was low and it got switched off.

I looked out of the window, trying to hear a low voice carried away in the current of air over my ears, as though it’s a messenger, carrying the words especially to me. ‘Time is getting on. Tick—Tick—Tick—Tick, you’ll have to make a move before it’s too late.

I don’t know what happened after that, but an old familiar feeling came back, or the memory of them did. Or maybe there was a fear of rejection, or getting embarrassed. And so I ended up looking outside the window waiting for my destination to arrive.

 

The next 5 minutes

There was a sudden ring from her phone which sounded like a Coldplay’s song, causing to cut the silence. She put the phone on Silent Mode, but it kept on lighting up and kind of whispering Blink, Blink zzzzzzzzzzzz Blink, Blink zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

She finally picked up her phone and in a frail voice said Hello.

Her Mother: Did you reach home??? (The voice was too loud)

“Don’t worry,” she said, “ I am going to be fine”.

I smiled at her and so did she. She hung up after 2 minutes and started listening to the songs again.

The next 15 minute

We were half through our journey and were going straight passing cars and occasionally being passed by them. For the first time she said something to the driver. “How far we are from Sholinganalur Anna.”

We are, however near the Toll on Old Mahabali Puram(O.M.R.), which means we are 15 minutes away from my destination and about 35-40 minutes from hers.

“About 45 minutes Madam, I will drop Sir first and then will move to Sholinganalur”

There is a moment of pause and without saying anything she sighs and puts her earphones back.

For me it is not something to wonder about. I think that every guy should do this. Unfortunately, in this world, a lot of times a woman being alone attracts uncalled for and unwanted attention. If I went out with a lady, I would not feel very comfortable not knowing if she reached her home safely.
So dropping her home is not a problem, it should never be. And not only for the sake of manners, but also for her safety.

“Excuse me !”

“Madam”

“Excuse me! Madam,” I said out loud for the third time

She: “Yes” (after taking out her earphones.)

Me: “It’s completely fine, if the driver drops you first. I don’t mind going to your drop location first and then coming back to mine.”

 

She smiled and then tucked her black wavy hair flowing in front of her cream colored face and said “It’s really sweet on your part, but this is not the first time I will be travelling alone. I usually get late and take OLA Share so it’s ok. Thank you”

Me (Digesting slowly): “Are you Sure? I really don’t have any problem”

Girl: “I’ll be all right. Thanks for the concern”. (Smiles again)

I didn’t insist after that and said ok.

There was an absolute silence for almost 30 seconds after that.

Me (Curious): “So you seem to be a techie to me, are you?”

Girl: “Yes, I am a techie. I am a Software developer in an IT company”

Me (excited) : Hey, I work in an IT company too. Which company are you working for?”

Girl: Cognizant

Me: Hey, I work in Cognizant too.

Girl: Oh great.

Me: “Which office?”

She : “ My office is not fixed, but mostly I work out of the one at Tidel Park.

TIDEL Park is located on the six-lane Rajiv Gandhi Salai in Taramani opposite to the Thiruvanmiyur MRTS Railway Station and close to the Rajiv Gandhi Salai–Thiruvanmiyur West Avenue Junction in Chennai City

Silence followed

Me (smirking): So, you are a from U.P!!

Girl: Yes!! How do you know that??

Me: You were talking to your Mom in Hindi, and that accent of yours was a typical  UP. accent. So I kind of figured out.

Girl: Well, technically I am from Noida, which you must be knowing is a part of NCR , but then my state is UP so I am a UPite.

We were busy spinning a web of words without realizing that the driver had taken a turn towards the street where I live.It had also started to drizzle a bit.

Cab Driver: “Sir, we have arrived your destination.”

It felt hard to absorb that soon this moment will be a history, and not a part of my destiny. I prepared to leave. I picked up my bag and shifted towards the door. I was waiting for her to say something more, but she was quiet.

There was something I wanted, but I could feel myself struggling, “Why can’t you say it?” I hardened my voice inside my brain.

She was staring at me […]. By the look on her face, she seemed as clueless as me.
It was nice meeting you”, she said
I didn’t answer right away. I got down from the car and then leaned towards her.
“Do you mind, if I ask your name?”

She chuckled and said “My name is Devyani, and yours”

“My name is Vipul”

I then hesitatingly slid my hand towards hers and waited for her to shake. Her fingers touched mine for the first time. Time stopped. I couldn’t see the cab driver around us, or hear the roaring of the sky. All I could comprehend was her, smiling at me, the color of her face enlightening the dark night

I then turned around and started moving towards my flat. What sucked even more is that I could have probably asked her number or something like that. I looked around. She was gone. I couldn’t understand. She had gone away so abruptly? Not even a goodbye. I became morose. But then, meeting someone in a cab isn’t the most romantic thing either. Whatever be the case, it’s still awesome to know that there is someone out there that’s not so far out and that you might run into them again.

 

To be continued …..

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