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March 10, 2004
Our love was just blooming when my boyfriend (now my husband) suggested I buy a cell phone; he didn't want to have to talk to 10 different people in my office and three different people at home before he finally got to talk to me.
I promptly got one. Just as promptly, I made an agreement with my friend. Whenever I'm on the phone, she has to drive my two-wheeler otherwise we could end up spending the night wherever I stopped the vehicle.
One evening, the phone rang just as we were stepping out of a fancy store. My friend went to the parking lot to retrieve my vehicle. I continued sharing sweet nothings with my boyfriend without realising I had actually walked quite a distance from the store. In my preoccupied state, I sat behind another lady driver and confidently said, "Okay, start." The lady was shocked; she was sure I was up to no good.
My mouth fell open when I saw someone else dressed in the same colour as my friend on a red two-wheeler similar to my own.
My friend was shaking with laughter. Later, she shared what had happened with everyone she knew in our small town. As you might guess, it is a story I have still to live down.
Laxmi Narayanan, Boston
Ooo� ooo� ouch!
The pain in his lower back had made Manesh miserable. He was lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling like a zombie when I dropped in to visit.
Alex, from Manesh's office, one of those 'know it all' types who invariably got his own way, was there as well. He was in his fifties and unimpressed by Manesh's woes. Instead, he began boasting of his prowess in getting rid of aches and pains. Manesh was impressed and asked Alex to help him too.
So Alex asked Manesh to stand straight and place his hands on his waist. Then, standing with his back to Manesh, he slipped his hands below his arms and bent, lifting Manesh high over his back and giving his entire body a stretch.
"There, that does it. You should be fine by morning," he said authoritatively.
When I called Manesh the next day, his wife answered the phone. She sounded tearful. "Manesh is in hospital. He has been put on traction. His back problem has worsened. He has been advised complete bed rest for a week."
I was puzzled, "But he seemed fine yesterday!"
"He was fine," she replied. "But thanks to that friend of his who visited us yesterday, he has now landed in hospital!"
Ivan DeSouza, Dubai [Images]
My mother-in-law, Aditi and Harsh travelled ahead of us to make the arrangements. We were to travel on the night of February 21 with my father-in-law. Booking the tickets was a pleasant experience. All I had to do was log on to the site, book the tickets and make the payment. The tickets were delivered to my doorstep.
My father-in-law was supposed to board the train from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus [Images], formerly Victoria Terminus [Images]. We were to join him at Thane. We took a rickshaw to the bus depot. There was a huge crowd waiting for the bus, so we decided to take an autorickshaw.
On our way, we got a call from my father-in-law. He asked us not to board the train at Thane! Till then, we were oblivious about what was happening in the city. It seems the BSP had held a rally in Mumbai [Images]. After the rally, its supporters had gathered at CST and were heading home. Their numbers were huge and they had, in all probability, not bothered to buy tickets before boarding the reserved compartments.
My father-in-law, who had been through a similar experience before, said there was no point in arguing with these 'party workers.' The railway police or ticket collectors would not come to our rescue. It would be more sensible to travel by bus.
We returned to Borivli. Unfortunately, the last bus for Aurangabad had already left. It was important for my wife to be at the ceremony, since she was Aditi's only sister. We took a train to Dadar, where we finally got on to a rickety bus at 11.30 pm for what would be a horrible journey.
I felt like a fool as I saw my tired three-year-old son, Rahul, nod sleepily. We were travelling uncomfortably in an ancient bus though I had reserved seats on the train. We talk about India becoming a developed country by 2020. I would love to know if the politicians who set these targets have also set a target to make India a 'civilized' country as well!
Mahesh M Vartak, Mumbai