The Uber took a longer route today.
Since the rains arrived in Pune, I have been commuting by Uber to work. It’s cost effective – the shared ride mode of Uber. And contrary to what the people have been complaining, I have not experienced long detours in Uber Pool. The rides have been seamlessly matched. All the riders drop location nearby. I have been lucky in this regard. Until today. Today was an exception.
As it was drizzling I scuttled out of the building to the visitor’s parking where the cab was waiting for me. A strong wind lashed against my face as I ran up to the cab, opened hastily the rear door and slipped into the passenger seat. “Nitin Sir,” the driver confirmed my name and after I said yes, started the trip. “SB Road,” I then mentioned the drop location as it was customary to do so.
After that, I started fishing in my bag for my Kindle. I like to use the commute time to catch up on some reading. As it was buried beneath the laptop and the papers, I didn’t find it once. In the background an old Hindi song was playing, a rarity these days when the cabs usually blast out the latest Bollywood numbers.
“And where is your drop, Sir?” I heard the driver voice right at the moment my fingers brushed against the leather cover of my Kindle. Thinking he was asking me again, I raised my head and was about to answer when I realized he was talking to the other passenger.
“Station,” the man sitting in front of me replied.
I caught the driver shaking his head. I knew what was the reason for his disapproval.
The railway station was on the far end of the city. Going to SB Road, my drop location, via station would extend the ride by thirteen kilometers. It doesn’t usually happen. Drop locations so far off matched in one ride. But it happened today.
Thirty more minutes, I thought in my mind. For a moment I thought of canceling the cab and booking another Uber to the office. I had an important meeting and I didn’t want to get late. But owing to the rains, finding cab was already a challenge. Already this ride got confirmed after I’d made a lot of attempts. Moreover, there was a local festival yesterday because of which there were only a very few Cabs on the road. I looked at my watch. I felt trapped.
Thirty minutes would make me just in time for the project review meeting. It was touch and go. But changing the cab now had a risk of finding a cab after a long wait, or worse finding no cab at all.
After a quick mental deliberation, I decided to continue on the ride. It was one off times when Uber screwed up with the passenger matching. I could live with that. But today happened to be a critical day. Well, that’s life, I thought. I sank back into the seat.
From where I was sitting, I could see a portion of the other passenger’s salt and pepper hair. I looked at the watch. Only if I had booked a few minutes earlier or later, I started thinking, then I wouldn’t have got matched with him. Only if it was someone else! Out of everyone, I had to get matched with him!
I realized an intuitive resentment against that person building within me. And the fact that he was now talking loudly over the phone was fueling that resentment even more. I don’t like people who don’t know the difference between their drawing room and a public place. But what you can do except ignoring them? And my way of ignoring them was putting on a pair of headphones and play a song or a podcast. Soon I was listening to a Coldplay Song. The lyrics drew me into the world of stars and moons. And for a moment it felt good, my mind forgetting the world around me. But only for a moment.
Still that feeling of resentment lingered. Feeling that I was sharing this cab with a total jerk of a person. And also that because of him I might get delayed for an important meeting. How illogical, I tried to explain myself. Others should not affect your mental peace. Like me he is also going to someplace, I tried to reason. Also, he might have some urgency. But we all know, sometimes however hard you may try to persuade, mind doesn’t listen. It will take some time for it to go away. I needed to distract myself.
I sighed and turned my face towards the window.
The drizzle had become stronger. The raindrops swaying left and right in the strong wind. Washed clean of the summer dirt the trees were shining bright green. The cab passed by a park where a group of boys were playing football. Such bliss. I felt a strong wave of nostalgia passing over me. I remembered the careless days of youth when every season brought along different ways to enjoy. New ways to play.
Such was the weather that I ended up wondering of a time in my college days when I had gone on a drive to Nainital, a hill station in the northern part of India. The weather was extremely pleasant there. Intermittent Light rains, cool breeze flowing. My best friends were on that trip. Sahil, Rhea, Nisha, Roy. I had a big argument with Sahil over something. I guess it was about Vandana, his girlfriend. I had made fun of a video greeting she had sent to Sahil. He didn’t take it well. It was our first and only fight in ten years of friendship. We still celebrate our only fight’s anniversary.
“Stop … ,”
A loud voice startled me!