Saturday, August 25, 2007

True story. I kid you not.

The story that follows is an absolutely true one. Though it may read like a one-man disaster movie script, it actually did happen to me over a 75 minute period of my life that's never coming back.

Here's the dope, in seven scenes...

Scene One: The day is done

Finally, for the first time this week, I was in a position to leave work for home relatively early. It being a Friday evening and me not having much of a social life to speak of, I made plans to go to a movie with a few friends.

For various reasons that I won't go into here, I didn't have a car available. A friend of mine kindly consented to drop me home, and pick me up an hour later so we could go to the movie. One hour - ample time to have a quick bath (yes, I realise this is surprising, but I do bathe more often that I used to a few months ago), rustle up some dinner and change into something hip and cool (yeah, I'm laughing too) for the night out. Also, I very badly needed to use the toilet.

Scene Two: What to do?

So I walked towards my flat, eagerly looking forward to getting home because a. I was tried and hungry, and b. the need to use the loo was rising at a rather uncomfortable rate. And that is when the first Cruel Joke occurred. I didn't have my keys.

None of my flatmates or other friends staying in the same complex were at home, so there I was locked out of home, alone and in need of a loo. I decided to take a rickshaw to the movie complex (in a mall, where else?), figuring that there just had to be a toilet there.

There are usually three or four rickshaws standing outside my building, as there is a steady flow of customers. On this occasion, I was dealt cruel Joke No. 2. Not a single rickshaw in sight, and none turned up for the next five minutes.

I needed a toilet really really bad. And had no easy way of getting to the multiplex. That was when it struck me that there was another mall nearby that I had never visited. And where there is a mall, there is bound to be a toilet. The mall was about five minutes' walk away. And so I set off.

Scene Three: This experience didn't lift me

The very entrance of the mall did not augur well for the success of my mission. It was cast in shadows thanks to low lighting, and the parking lot was deserted. The security guards outside looked up from their chai in surprise, shocked that someone was actually entering the mall.

Inside, it was like a ghost town. Te lights were on, and the air conditioning was on in full blast. But there were NO people whatsoever and ALL the shops were closed. It was a freakin' desert mall.

I saw some signs mentioning a food court, and went by previous experience in assuming it would be on the top floor (the 4th). The top floor turned out to be the corporate office that ran this 180000 square feet of retail space in complete disuse. Plush sofas and awesome air conditioning, but no visible sign of the loo. I took the lift to the 3rd floor. Halfway there, Cruel Joke No. 3 decided to chip in. The lights went out.

Power cuts are not a rare occurrence in Gurgaon. Nevertheless, complete darkness in an enclosed place is kinda freaky. To the credit of the mall authorities, the lights came back on in a few seconds. But the lift didn't budge.

Let me summarize the situation at this point in time. I'm hungry. I'm in danger of soiling my pants. And I'm stuck between the third and fourth floors of a desert mall. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments.

It took an agonizing and worst-case-scenario-thought-inducing thirty seconds for the lift to spring back to life and take me to the third floor. I staggered out to be greeted by a sign welcoming me to the Food Court.

The population of the food court was more than the rest of the mall put together. There were three men, of which one was a security guard. All three were lounging around and watching the India-England cricket match (which India won!) On enquiring (with clenched teeth and crossed legs) where one might find the nearest toilet, I was guided down a long and tortuously winding path to a little door with the word 'Men' on it. Woohoo!

Scene Four: I can't take this shit any more!

The toilet was reasonably clean. Good beginning. Given how life had been treating me until then, I checked that the water pipe near the commode was working; critical given that there wasn't any toilet paper. It was working. Thankful that things were taking a turn for the better, I got down to the long awaited business.

Several minutes of grunting and relieved sighs later, I had a smile of satisfaction across my face, and reached for the water. It was at this point that Cruel Joke No. 4 realised that it had been slacking in its duty to make my life a living hell and kicked in with maximum force. The water pipe did not work.

Now this crossed the line from irritating to just plain frustrating. The bloody thing had worked just five minutes earlier, but now was dry as... oh, I don't know, the very memory stresses me out so far as to ruin my capacity to come up with analogies.

Luckily, I had my trusty notebook (which I carry to work) at hand, and it had some trusty pages. So that was what I used. Not a pleasant experience.

The main taps in the loo were working, which was good. The soap dispenser was not empty, which was better. So I squeezed some onto my hands, which was when Cruel Joke No.5 joined the party. My hands started stinging.

I scrubbed them until the feeling subsided, and confronted the guard about it. His explanation? "Oh, Sir, no one comes here. We use the dispenser to store cleaning acid." #@$$%^@&!

So not only had I used high quality writing sheets as toilet paper, I had washed my hands with an undefined cleaning acid.

Life kinda sucked.

Scene Five: I need food to stay alive

One of my two initial problems - egestion/excretion and ingestion - had been addressed. But I was hungry going on starving. The food court had only one of six restaurants functioning, and the guy manning it (one of the aforementioned loungers) said that as they didn't expect any customers, they hadn't fired up their grills or whatever it is they do to set up a kitchen. The result? A waiting time of half an hour. At this point, my friend called up to tell me he'd pick me up in 10 minutes. I passed on the Food Court dinner idea, and decided to seek nourishment elsewhere.

Just outside the mall was a small home-run store. I bought myself a couple of fruit buns and a packet of juice. Very tasty indeed. I then crossed the street to an ice-cream vendor. I chose a cone ice-cream and realised 6 minutes and halfway back home later that that was not a very bright decision, because I now had a raging thirst thanks to the dry biscuit cone. Enter Cruel Joke No. 6 (admittedly not as astoundingly cruel as its peers) - the store was closed.

There was no one in sight, and there was nowhere within easy reach that I could get a mouthful of water. Swallowing as much saliva as I could, I trudged home consoling myself with the knowledge that my friend would be waiting to whisk me off to what ought to be an enjoyable movie and a capital way of putting the torture of the last hour or so out of mind.

Scene Six: The evening's final tricks

My friend wasn't there. Which didn't strike me something to be worried about. Given Gurgaon's traffic conditions, incorrect estimates of driving time are acceptable. What did get my goat (figuratively, of course; I don't rear livestock) was when he called up five minutes later to deliver Cruel Joke No. 7 - he was completely, utterly lost.

Not good news because the movie was starting in under half an hour and I hate missing any part of a movie and particularly the beginning.

It took 12 minutes and three frustrating calls ("Left, left, left! How the hell can it be on your right? Can't you see the signboards? Just come straight. No curves, no turns, straight! And yes, take the left turn. No the next one. Whaddya mean there's no left turn?" You get the drift.)... but he got here eventually.

"Hey, Kaka, I'm sorry man. Really sorry. You look angry, and you sounded pretty frustrated on the phone."
"Uh huh, you think so?"

Scene Seven: This Puppeteer ain't going to heaven

I don't know who pulls the strings of my life, which sadistic cosmic puppeteer controls the things that happen to me. But I hate him/her, and damn him/her straight to hell.

The only good achieved out of the harrowing experience is that I got a lot of material to write about. But I still hate the puppeteer. *(&^@*.


NIRMAL said...

Awesome post.
Very funny

Seriously when things go wrong every other thing related with it also goes
horribly wrong.

Again,Your style of conveying humor in blog posts is too good.
Just laughed as i read them.

Be prepared next time :)
Remember the keys

Chaim said...

This was great. I mean great to read, as someone to whom it did not happen. I have, however, been there. Believe me. The good thing to come out of all of this is you have a deliciously funny story to tell, and you can never have too many of those.

Did you make it to the movie on time? (I, too, hate to miss any part of one.)

Anonymous said...

Lovely post....sorry state to be in though :)

Arjun/Srikrishnan Ganesan said...

at least u came out alive ;)

AC said...

@Nirmal: Thanks so much :) One of the most difficult things to achieve in life is the capacity to make other people laugh, and be able to deploy this capability consistently. It really means a lot when someone enjoys one of my posts, or my blog in general.

AC said...

@Chaim: No, I didn't make it in time! I missed a couple of critical scenes in the first 10 minutes... Thankfully, I knew the story so it didn't come in the way of my enjoying the rest of the movie!

And I agree, it's great to have a funny story to tell. Now I have enough material to sustain conversation at the next few parties I go to :)

AC said...

@Anonymous: Thanks :) Life lurches from one weird thing to another...

@GB: Yeah, I know :) I'm glad the string of bad luck stopped where it did!

Chiran said...

As long as you find time to type it down man..keep it rolling;)

Nandini Vishwanath said...

Gross, did you have to describe everything? :P But ya, it was funny and all that jazz. Just kidding kanna. But not about the gross bit of it!

gayathri said...

:) i have been in similar situations and worst of all in Gurgaon! it happens just there!

Jeremy said...

ROTFLMBO Oh, man I have had days like that...

Mayth!! said...

I know a lil guy by the name 'Murphy' must have heard of him too ;)

ROTFL Post usual :)

AC said...

@Chiran: Thanks man :)

@Nandu: Gross? What's gross about it?! The beauty of life lies in the details :)

AC said...

@Gayathri: I know! There's just something about Gurgaon. The city conspires to make one's life as masively challenging as possible. I guess it's Gurgaon's way of ensuring one is never bored...

AC said...

@ jeremy: Yeah, haven't we all :) In hindsight, it's nice to have the occasional splash of excitement and heightened emotion in one's life!

@ mayth: Thank you! And yeah, we're well acquainted :) We often meet over a beer to swap life stories and discuss how remarkably similar they seem to be!

CYCLO said...

would have loved to hear this one firsthand!!!

AC said...

I know... ah well... such is life!