I know what you are thinking. Nope, its not Mr. Murthy spelled incorrectly, it is in fact Mr. Murphy with a P not a T. I will pretend that for the sake of anonymity I won’t be disclosing his first name but the truth is I have no idea what it is. I have always known him as Murphy. He’s been my closest friend since I was a kid, silently tagging along wherever I went, like a shadow, yet making his presence felt year after year, reinforcing the notion of his existence. Not that I ever doubted it, not even for a second. And after all these years, when I had felt like I had finally outgrown my friendship with him, when his antics had slipped to the back of my mind, he came back full-force as if to prove his supremacy.
The earliest experiences I can think of with him are actually experiences shared with me by my mother. I do not honestly remember those. I was too young then, all of three years. Murphy made himself more visible to my parents then than to me. But we have been connected since birth, so I like to say that during my childhood, he communicated with my parents through me.
My mother likes to remind me what a spoilt brat I was. When I was about three or so, I used to spill whole containers of food placed on the table for lunch. Look, food?, action, splat! That simple. I would throw jewelry out the window of our apartment. Expensive jewelry. My mother had to loosely tie me to a chair when she needed to go take a bath so that I wouldn’t get to any more mischief. She swears she could hear me dragging the chair along. So when that did not stop me, she would tie me to the table and hurriedly bathe in five minutes because she knew that would not stop me either. See? That was not me. I was an innocent, gullible kid. That was all Murphy.
When I was maybe four, allegedly one by one all day care folks in the vicinity gave up on me. They simply refused to take me in. They would call my mother, ask her to pick me up and tell her in clear terms “We cannot manage her anymore, she’s too wild!”. My mother had to quit her job to take care of me. That, also was Murphy. How can you even imagine a four year old could do all that?
Over the years as his effects wore off, one thing stayed constant. Falling. The tumbling, scrape-your-knees-elbows-palms, embarrassing falling. Just to make his point, whenever Murphy was with me, I would undoubtedly take a fall. One time on the school field. Once outside on the streets while I was playing with my friends. Even in college. Running to the workshop class, gripping the door handle and opening it hurriedly while the mat below my feet did a smooth sailing and I landed on my face with the door open and the entire class looking at me. It would happen at least once every year. Year after year. Like clockwork. And then it stopped. Just like that. Out of the blue and I thought I was rid of the curse.
Oh, how I was mistaken. Here’s a recap of my adventures on the way to meet two of my closest friends from college. We had such great plans; there was an electricity in the air; we were so looking forward to it; it would be so much fun meeting after a whole decade. Swapna, one of those two, has been such a dear and she has beautifully described our trip complete with the build up, the excitement and our experiences in her blog Dreams Come True. So here goes my part. The day of the trip dawned bright and early.
- I hit the Snooze button on my alarm one too many times.
- I grossly miscalculated the time I should reach the airport for my 7:40 AM flight to Virginia.
- As a result, even at 6:45 AM I was still home brushing my hair, blissfully unaware that I had entered into the time zone which states “You should be at the airport at least an hour before the flight.”
- After my husband finally managing to knock some sense into me after long trials and tribulations, I reached the airport at 7:20 AM – a full 20 minutes before my flight. Wait, it keeps getting better and better!
- The self-service kiosk refused to let me check in, stating that check-in had closed. Duh!
- I forgot my license at the kiosk, thankfully the agent called me back and stated I wouldn’t have gotten far without it anyway. I would have said I forgot it because of the state I was in, but that wouldn’t be the truth because this wasn’t the first time I did that. I have forgotten my wallet in Patel groceries, the Target store, the library, the cafe counter at our workplace so much so that the cafe workers knew how to recognize my wallet!
- So I spoke to the agent at the check-in desk who was, God bless her, an angel as she patiently answered my questions and helped me find alternate flights. After a lot of searching, she said, Got one! This evening at 5:40 PM. I didn’t think twice. “I’ll take it!” I said confidently and dramatically almost handed her my credit card. “That would be $1200.” She said. I took my hand back. No dramatics this time.
- She continued to search. At one point she asked me if I am flexible about airports. All other flights to my destination were full. No connections. She couldn’t issue me more layovers because that would mean a fresh ticket. The closest one turned out to be about 120 miles away – a possible two-hour drive. After much debating (while the poor soul continued to search for other options) I agreed. I would reach Greens Borough around 5:30 PM in the evening. Best case, I would find a state bus or a Greyhound. Worst case, I would need to rent a car and drive! I paid the $50 rescheduling fee and took my boarding passes. My flight was at 10:15 AM. I had about two hours to kill. Not wanting to take any chances (read: any more) I walked to my gate and took a seat – starting reading a book I was carrying along.
- “At this point of time, we would like to announce that we have an overbooked flight and we are looking for passengers flexible about their travel plans who would be ready to take the next flight. We would pay them $200 in Delta vouchers.” Hmm, sounded good. I had a three hour layover at Cincinnati which would get reduced to a one hour layover but maybe the $200 would cover for my rental car expenses. My logical side kicked in and said not to push my luck. I sat and waited.
- “We are now offering $400 if you are flexible to travel by the next flight.” An evil tiny voice inside me said: $200 was one thing, you can definitely risk it for $400. So I went to the counter and discovered that the lady standing before me had taken the deal. I walked back to my seat thinking maybe it was all for good.
- Now, I was visiting an old friend, Padma from my colony, for the first time after her marriage, so while browsing the shops at the Cincinnati airport I thought it would be a good idea to buy them a gift. I got them two gift packs – one for her, the other for him and while the lady packed those up and put them into a gift bag, I shuffled through my purse for my wallet. I know what you’re thinking, but this time it was right in there!
- The flight from Cincinnati to Greens Borough was uneventful (Funny right?). I picked up my rental which Meeta had booked for me online and thought now would be a good idea to keep the gift bags out so that I can give it to them as soon as we met. And then, I discovered the “For him” was missing!!!! No amount of throwing things around and searching would bring it back. I had to finally call the store and found out they accidentally missed packing it and would be willing to ship it for free. I gave them the address and that took care of this problem.
- I drove peacefully, humming to myself, listening to the radio, met my friend, told them my story, had a good home-cooked dinner, reminisced about those days and talked and gossiped. After a good 2-3 hours, they dropped me off to where my college friend Meeta was – the one with whom I had planned the resort trip. We picked up the car from her friend’s place and drove back to her apartment. And she couldn’t find her key. Which was on a badge slot that also had her credit card, her ICard and some cash. Lo and Behold, the ‘Deepa effect’ had just passed from one person to the other. This was the first time something like that had happened. We drove back to her friend’s and scooting in the dark, looked for the damn thing in the light from our cell phones. This was at 1 AM in the morning. She finally found it right in her bag!!
- We drove back to her apartment and we discovered that we could not turn off one of the lights in the car, couldn’t find the switch. So she called up her friend Yongbo again and gave the phone to me. As I was talking to him on the phone, she forgot that I had it and started searching for the phone and exclaims to me when I was done: “I think we have to go back. I lost my cell phone!!!”
And the trip had just started. We spoke well into the night, slept real late, woke up late, she cooked pohe, talked some more, actually endlessly. Then we went to pick up Swaps. I think her landing offset the effect that was hovering around me because the rest of the time spent with the two of them was amazing. In a good sense. No mishaps. The trip back was a whole other story. Now that I type this I realize, maybe it was Swaps. Because right till the moment she was with me, everything was good. We parted ways at the airport and took our individual flights. Read Murphy – Part 2 to find out what happened on the way back!
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