Talking to a Stranger

When Little Red Riding Hood ventured into the Forest to see her sick Grandmother, living on the edge, on the other end, her Mother sends her off with the Words, ‘Don’t talk to strangers’. She did just that, and the rest is a ‘grim’ fairy tale!

My car was due for service, and a female voice at TVS Sundaram Honda, Salem, kept pounding my phone for a date. I finally relented and said 30th May was all right – book a sexy slot at the 8.30am Calendar Table – so that ‘delivery’ can happen by 12 Noon. We had a deal!

So there I am sitting in the Customer Lounge – after handing over the car keys, true to date and having signed on the Job Card – reading the morning Newspaper; in walks a white (clad in a clean white short sleeve shirt and matching well-ironed white pant), surely 75+, old man and settles down next to me. After a few tense moments of come-hither, look-yonder looks, our eyes met and we started a wonderful conversation. It appears that he thought 9am was an early-bird time and with that kind of an appearance he could get back his Car before lunch-time. Sorry, I told him, I arrived at 8.30am and there were already 10 cars ahead of me, and I willed a time of 12 Noon. We both joked about how we could have queued up with our neem-tooth brushes, folded lungi and mug of water – early birds get the worm! We then talked about education – why kids are becoming dumber at Schools and how wider travel would open-up minds, why the environment at home is so important to grow confident kids, how working in Mumbai makes men out of children; the inevitable Jayalalithaa (strong & courageous – he said); of course, Karunanithi (brilliant, clever – he said); Modi Sarkar, and how good governance is what we need – not table fans, cows & goats but roads and infrastructure to go on and buy them of your choice; Ramayana – why following rules is awfully important and how a King decides when & how much of a punishment is enough; Mahabharata – why we need to get over the Arjuna-effect in our lives; Running Power Plants; Building Airports…etc., ending with me demonstrating Modi’s Digital India initiative – asking for his car (actually his Daughter’s) number and by instant return SMS finding the Owner. In between, I quickly slid to the nearby KFC, grabbed a Snacker by the throat – ate it, and returned to continue the conversation. When we finally unlocked our eyes it was 12 noon, and my car was ready. I hurriedly said goodbye and left quickly – dragged by the Service Advisor to ‘pay’ for the ‘date service’ and clear the area. It was all over in a flash. No names, no nothing. I had been talking to a complete stranger… and immensely enjoyed it – felt younger (minus 70 ) Ha!


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