The great innovators at Ola have solved the problems of mass transportation. Instead of being packed into metros and buses, our sweaty bodies are packed into tiny hatchbacks with four people along with a grumpy hypertensive driver. Until Ola launches helicopters due to high traffic and throws passengers via parachute, the strange abomination called Ola share must skirt around the tiny lanes of Indian cities whilst dealing with irate passengers.
Your dependable Couchcynic, detests all forms of transportation. From crowded metros, overpriced autos, mind boggling e-rickshaws and even his own personal vehicle, which he especially avoids due to road rage, he is mostly found lounging in his living room flaking on appointments.
One such humid day he woke up in his dark ill ventilated room to find out it was already afternoon and he had to commute a fair distance. After plugging in the variables of distance, comfort and time he decided that time was least important and booked an Ola Share. The cab arrived and he made himself comfortable on the backseat, smugly thanking various Hindu gods that he had tricked a cunning corporation like Ola and would now ride a full cab at the price of a share. After a short comfortable drive where he was reclined in the backseat, the driver’s alert buzzed and much to his horror he realized that the driver had another pickup. The efficient Ola algorithm had ensured that the pickup was in the exact opposite direction to where he was headed and the driver answered the call of duty with much gusto repeatedly calling the passenger to ask for directions. The cab drove right till the expected passengers apartment complex and like most lazy Indians the passenger was displeased about walking from her apartment to her front gate probably expecting the driver to walk up her to her house and carry her to the cab on a stretcher. The girl’s name was Gauri and she plonked herself in the front seat after a glance at her irritated co passenger. Couchcynic doesn’t have too many interests but he never fails to catch up on gossip. He takes special care to eavesdrop on people sneakily thereby alleviating his boredom. Much to his surprise Gauri began talking to a friend on the phone loud enough for anyone to hear. Her conservation was a welcome change from the crap that passes for content on most radio channels and he had no option but to tune in.
These are excerpts from Gauri’s conversation.
You know I went for an online date yesterday, it was a complete disaster.
(Inaudible mutterings of her friend)
So I met this older guy at a coffee shop and he was grinning like an idiot the whole time. Since, he was slightly awkward but also buff, I broke the ice by asking him if he works out. He got more comfortable at this point and enthusiastically explained the various gym machines he could handle and how he loved whey protein. I feigned interest but from my extensive online dating experience I knew something was off. So I asked him
“When was the last time you went on a date?”
He replied, “Eight years ago”.
Though I was quite shocked I asked him why it’s been so long and made a lame joke about maybe it was because he had an Airtel Internet connection and hadn’t been able to go online in a while.
The joke passed over his head but he replied with a smirk, “Because I have been married for nine years.”
I nearly choked on my coffee when I realized that I was on a date with a married guy. It took me a few moments to reassess my self-esteem and convince myself that it wasn’t my fault and the dating app didn’t come with any disclaimer to only have unmarried men.
The older guy took this pause in a very positive light so like any family oriented Indian man he began to give me details of his domestic life.
“I have a seven year old son and you know what, my wife is pregnant”.
I couldn’t help it anymore and burst out, “Your wife is pregnant and you are on a date with a different woman. What kind of a person are you?”
The man was unperturbed and replied with nonchalance,
“Arrey, so what’s the problem. I got married young and missed out on many things. Nowadays there are so many fun activities like online dating and I too want to take a chance.”
I was disgusted and walked out of the coffee shop after tersely telling him not to go around cheating on his wife. I’m sure he missed the point. You know what happened next…
At this point your humble narrator was completely transfixed, but his stop had arrived and he had to get down. The girl had not realized, but there had been a stunned silence in the cab while she had rambled on about her horrible date. He knew that the driver had listened to the story as keenly as he and so he exchanged a knowing glance with him, slightly jealous that he would probably find out a lot more.
(This piece is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental and unintended.)