I was already running late and the autowallahs are at their bargaining best. Either they don't want to go to Madhapur or they want Rs. 150-Rs. 200. Little S was with me too - hungry, sleepy and on the verge of being cranky. After a traumatic 20-minute wait, I was grateful to this autowallah who was willing to take me to office (where I was supposed to meet my friends) on meter.
The only problem was he had his friend sharing the driver's seat with him, but I was still okay considering the agonising wait, and the heat, if I didn't take that auto. It turned out this auto-driver was a true descendant of some noble family with a lot of self-respect. And he thought very highly of himself too, I must say!
The more I wanted him to go faster, the more adamant he was about going slow and driving carefully. Sometimes he would chat away on his cool Made-in-China mobile that his friend held near his ear, and sometimes he would just turn his head and chat away with his friend in a funny mix of Hindi and Marathi. The result: me losing my temper a couple of times at the driver, and at little S for distracting me. And yes, what was a normal 25-minute-drive added another 15 minutes to the travel time thanks to the talented driver.
So there we were finally with just 5 mins left to catch the 5.45 p.m. cab to Park Lane. Amoo dumped her heavy backpack in our cab and was driving down on her Activa (oh, btw, I really like Amoo's red helmet). S had a lot of fun on the way - sitting in the back seat and making faces at Amoo who was following the cab, while also fighting with Bhowes who was sitting next to her.
We reached Park Lane, and I started hunting for water - by then S was too thirsty to let us shop in peace. I found this Chotiwala chaat bhandaar opposite the General bazaar lane, next to Mendes showroom, where I could possibly buy some water, and where we savored Pav Bhaaji and Samosa Chaat (which is served with Dahi and Sev, but no masala or ragda!!!) a little later.
It took me 5 mins to cross the road on that busy road and another 5 mins to cross back with a chilled Kinley water bottle. Princess S was at peace with the world with just two sips of the holy elixir. Wasn't Kareena right in Jab We Met when she says, "Yeh cola shola sab apni jagah hai. Paani ka kaam sirf paani kar sakta hai." And I don't miss even a single opportunity to repeat the line shamelessly. :-)
Ok done! Now just shop, shop, and shop. I picked up two dress materials in just 5 mins and was done - leaving Amoo extremely disappointed. Bhowes was still hunting for a dress material for her sis-in-law. Sri called her up in between to check if everything was okay. He also alerted Bhowes about cops receiving a tip about three terrorists / bomb squad (a woman among them) entering Hyderabad, and city being on a high alert with vehicles being checked at every few meters.
Once the news was confirmed, we were distracted and wanted to get home quickly. I still had to buy saris, and also pick up my new computer on my way home. Bhowes was too tired after a long day at work, and wanted to reach home ASAP. As soon as I got out of the computer showroom, she called to say she reached home safe. And she sounded pleasantly surprised, and excited.
It turned out to be a feel-good-story indeed! While Bhowes was on her way to Safilguda, a cop stopped her auto at the AOC Gate. A 30-something woman was standing next to him looking hassled. To my dear friend's surprise, the policeman apologized for stopping the auto, inquired where she was headed to, and politely requested her to drop the hassled woman on the way home. Hmmm!!! Touching!
Since when have Hyderabadi cops become so gentle and helpful, Bhowes kept wondering... But yes, the cop's concern about the lonely lady's safety in a deserted place definitely gave a nice touch to our fun-filled evening. All's well that ends well. Happys Endings!!