You have sharp ringing in your ears from that wrong dive you made this morning in your pool. It sounds like your ears are gargling the bullshit you keep hearing on social media or otherwise. So, you are talking a bit louder than you should, yelling almost, at the cook, the maid, the guard, almost everyone.
When the UBER driver calls you, you yell at him too. Unintentionally. Of course. But unlike everyone else, he doesn’t match your pitch when he retorts. Next you find yourself seated on the passenger seat of a rickety hatchback, because a lady has hijacked the backseat – for three. Sitting in the middle, her purse lying on her left, and her undeniably complacent ass on the right.
“Ah, come on now.” You whisper, dejected and angry. And strap yourself with the scab soaked belt in the front, with a mild disgust. The ringing continues.
It’s hot and you are fuming. You are fuming and you are contemplating. You are contemplating, and you are blaming. You are blaming the day – how it started, why did you dive at an angle, you rookie swimmer? What had got into you? Other than water and a fleeting encouragement from your trainer? So now you are contemplating to tell your trainer to not encourage you and instead hold you down. Put you in your place. And you are also contemplating to tell this cab driver to switch on the AC. Why is it suddenly so hot today, you are wondering? The ringing continues.
You clear your throat and wiggle your ears for the hundredth time today. And in an abnormally loud shriek you tell your driver to switch on the AC.
No AC in UBER pool he says.
“Why, yes, good sir you provide transport services in exchange of money, driving this magical hot metal, why not bless us with some perks that it comes with?” You want to ask. But because you are not in 1800s and he is not all that gentlemanly, you opt for the much-needed F bomb and drop it twice on this motherfucker’s head.
“Why won’t you switch on the fucking AC? Is it a fucking rule that UBER pool isn’t supposed to have the AC? Where’s it written?”
And in disgust and complete lack of humility he brushes all that hair on his head he doesn’t have, brings his cab to a halt and tells you to either get out of the it or sit your moaning ass inside, with your mouth zipped all the way the sides.
In that moment you’re awestruck by this man’s fearlessness and dumbstruck at your own. You both stare at each other for three seconds.
He gets back to business, rotating the steering, shifting gears, talking (or yelling, you can’t tell which) on his phone. The ringing continues.
It’s a war now. But what do you do next? Get of the cab in this heat, book another one that may or may not come for next half an hour. Start walking and reach your destination by 2019? Walk backwards – on these streets. Walk backwards in time? Yell at a hoodlum masked in the costumes of a chauffeur? Look at the lady sitting on the rear seat for support? Yell at pedestrians for help? Cry? Summon a demon? Needle the fuck out of this man’s voodoo doll? Call up UBER? Tweet about your exasperating experience? You don’t know, or maybe you do. By the next speed breaker, you’d have convinced yourself of what can and must be done. So you slouch and slide your phone out of your left pocket.
You send an angry tweet to UBER, you exaggerate your plight, you make driver’s intimidation sound like a death threat, you call out for help, use a bunch of hashtags, mention the cab number and the driver, attach a screenshot of your booking details, tag UBER’s support handle, tag Virat Kohli, tag Sushma Swaraj, tag the entire world, and slide your phone back into your pocket. The ringing continues.
In another forty-five minutes, your driver yells at his phone non-stop. He is indeed great at conversations like UBER had suggested at the time of booking, but it never hinted that he is very enthusiastic detailing about his last food, fart and fuck to his entourage.
You reach your destination. Don’t say thanks to the driver, don’t look at the lady. You just slam the door behind you.
Next you find yourself seated on a public toilet, when you remember to take the phone out, that’s extraordinarily buzzing today. This is a routine drill on weekends when the ads and notifications are jammed down your throat the maximum, because you are one of the many guinea pigs for cashback gimmicks and subscription discount ploys. Switching cashless wallets, making new accounts, getting a credit card to pay off a credit card to pay off yet another credit card – exploiting the loopholes of capitalistic market through an infinite loop of fuckery.
But what you find is not a single service provider SMS but a cluster of tweets and notifications. Shushma Swaraj has tweeted back, Virat Kohli has tweeted back, Anushka Sharma has yelled in all caps, Kejriwal has nothing to do with it, but he has still blamed Modi. Buzzfeed and Schoopwhoop and other millennial news platforms have made it their breaking headline, branding you as a poor captive that needs to be rescued ASAP. Twitteraties have supported your callout, other passive tweeple have supported their support. You are a mini star drooped on this pooper. The ringing continues.
You did not want this attention, you want to be back home as soon as you can. You want to shower all this attention off. Switch off the phone. Wrap yourself in a sheet. Watch Netflix. Maybe take another dive in the pool and hide there. Maybe the ears will get unclogged. Maybe you will have clarity on how to deal with all of this.
So you book another cab. You are terrified. This time you switch to OLA. This car wobbles when it is ignited, so its indeed pointless to ask for an AC. You just want to be home. So you sit through this ride on this chair that moves on wheels.
Sitting on the couch, you are apprehensive and petrified of every phone call that you get, You don’t want this attention. You don’t want any media interviews, and the worst, you don’t want the driver gang to bash you. You switch off your phone. You switch off the lights. You switch off yourself from all the thoughts. You slowly fall asleep.
In the middle of the night, the bell rings. You are scared to open the door. But the knock is louder than before. You have to open it. There is no escape. It could after all be the news agencies or the support group, you convince yourself and unlatch the door.
But of course, it’s none of them. They only pander to social media clicks and views. What you instead have is the silhouette of the driver you got screwed with just one tweet this morning, holding a bat in his hands, staring at you.
What do you want, I say?
Nothing, he says, you fucked my life.
“How so?” You ask.
“Well, cops are looking for me and have come to my house, so I thought I will just swing by at yours.” He points at his bat.
Next you know your temple is smacked with the wood. The ringing continues.