I went Bombay. Alone. I mean – ME. The one who is capable of losing her way walking from the living room to the bedroom. Me. I went alone. Much to the chagrin of my family. They were pretty sure I would not be able to find my way out of the aircraft – let alone anything else. So a dutiful friend was assigned to pick me up from the airport and handhold me until it was time for my meeting. That part went off well enough. He picked me up. We stopped by at his work place – Tao Art Gallery – which apparently is India’s largest private art gallery. It was dark and silent and I drooled at the paintings without worrying about displaying my complete ignorance of art. That done, we took a cab down to Mahalaxmi where we met another friend for breakfast. After chit chatting for about an hour, it was time to catch a cab and head for the Bandra-Kurla road where my meeting was. I was to drop my friend back at his gallery on my way so he got in and explained the way to the cabby who nodded his head intelligently. When he got off at his designated stop and I instantly felt alone in a big, strange city. Anyways I settled in with my google map in hand and my friends’ instructions in my head. All the landmarks that google and my friend had said – passed by. So I was reassured that I was on the right track. Just then the cabby turned to ask me ‘so how do I get to BKC?’ I was of course flabbergasted! Why on earth did he nod so vigorously if he did not know? I told him to ask someone – since I had no clue. But he was one stubborn mule. He refused to stop and ask! He just kept going and the landmarks faded away. Unfamiliar road names zoomed past. I started to panic. Ask someone I yelled every two minutes. Finally he paused near a mechanic shop and stared. He expected me to ask – it seemed. But if I had no clue of the roads how was I to understand directions? I did ask – and the man assured us that we were totally in the wrong direction. He gave long winded directions to my driver, who set off – getting grumpier by the minute – in the said direction. About 15 minutes later, we were back where we started. We had gone a full circle! This time we asked an auto driver. This man also proceeded to assure us that we were hopelessly lost. He in turn gave his directions. My man nodded intelligently – yet again. And we were off once more. In the meanwhile the friend called to check on me. “Not lost na?” he hoped. My pride would not let me admit it. In fact, almost there – I told him. Another 20 minutes later I saw a Citibank Building that was marked in my google map. But it was on my right while the map said it should be on my left. So right road, wrong direction. We went around the road, trying to turn and somehow the chap managed to lose his way again! God knows how we found ourselves on a national highway. Another ask-for-directions halt followed and another knowledgeable auto driver guided us. By now my driver was almost in tears and very upset with me for taking him all around the city! (Sure blame me buddy – but just get me there.). Finally yet another auto guy guided us right and I reached my meeting venue – just 5 minutes late. I rushed into the building and called my client. She asked me to come up to the 3rd floor lobby and wait. I did that. And waited. And waited. Then I messaged her. She called me asking which 3rd floor I was in. We discovered that I was in the wrong building! I had to go across to the high rise next door to the one I was in. How embarrassing!
Anyways for all the chaos it took to reach the place, my meeting went off rather well. Post the meeting and lunch – I had plenty of time to kill before catching my late evening flight back to Chennai. So I decided to go to Linking Road for shopping – again as advised by my friend. I asked my client for directions and she drew me a fool-proof map (no pun intended here). Armed with that I took an auto to Linking Road. Fortunately this driver seemed to know where he was going. Unfortunately he was in a hurry to get there! He swerved and twisted and turned and weaned his way through heavy traffic at breakneck speed. At one point I think the auto turned so fast it went up on two tires. My entreaties to slow down fell on deaf ears. It was a good 15 minutes of gut wrenching ride! The minute I spotted the footwear shops lining the pavement I yelled for him to stop. What a relief it was to get there in one piece! I walked down the crowded street and had a look at all the wares. A second and third round followed before I ventured into a shop to buy anything. The first purchase were two lovely flowery sandals for my princess. Next stop – footwear for myself. Just then the husband called to check on me. When I told him where I was, he was appalled. Be careful, he begged. Don’t get lost and head for the airport quickly – he ordered. This was followed by a call from my client – to check if I had reached my destination safely. What a reputation I had managed to create! Anyways despite all their fears I spent another hour walking the streets. Then I took an auto to the airport.
There I settled into a corner with a book and a sandwich. Before I knew it, it was time to board my aircraft. As I buckled myself into my seat I congratulated myself. Not bad. It was chaotic and hectic, but I did manage on my own. Bravo!
Perfect end to an adventurous day? Definitely.