I heard the soft beep of what sounded like a medical gadget through the haze that I was floating in. I was drifting between consciousness and haze. The anxious faces of my family members swam before my eyes. I tried to focus but I kept drifting back into the haze. After what seemed an eternity I drifted into consciousness again.
“Look who is back!” I heard my brother M say. I heard my mom sob. A white coated figure appeared out of nowhere, took my pulse and declared me out of danger. And that is when I realized that I was in a hospital.
“What happened” I asked groggily. “You fainted.” sniffled my mom. “Thank god it happened near your office gates or god knows what would have happened.” she sobbed.
“Could you tell us what happened?” asked the doctor.
I tried to recollect the day’s events. I remember getting into the auto to go to office. But before that I remember hailing the auto. The driver, a neatly dressed gentleman in his 50’s stopped next to me and inquired politely in chaste English, where I wanted to go. When I gave him my office address he thought for a bit and asked again, in really good English, which gate I wanted to be dropped at. After I had given him the details he asked me politely to get in. He waited till I was seated before driving off. I looked at him and felt a little troubled. As a Bangalorean, I am not used to unnatural sights like pot hole free roads, traffic rules abiding drivers, polite auto drivers etc. I was surely dreaming or had too much to drink at the New Year party.
We reached a traffic signal and the driver stopped the auto, took out English newspapers and calmly began to read the contents. Now I was sure that I had too much to drink at the New Year party and the drink was spiked by some hallucinogenic substance! Instead of cursing the red light and honking incessantly, this man was using the time to catch up on the news!
When the traffic light turned green, he folded the newspaper neatly and kept it away. This continued at all the red lights. As we sped down the fairly clear road leading to our campus, he remarked at the brief winter and the sudden change in weather to warm. I distinctly hear him say that the weather was “balmy”. I pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming.
In between maneuvering the auto through the narrow road, he talked about the onion prices, inflation and its effects on the price index. I was very sure I was in the Twilight Zone now.
We reached the office gates and I got down. He held out his hands to warn an approaching car that I was disembarking. I got out shakily. There was no way this guy was for real. Such auto drivers do not exist even in my most improbable dreams!! I curbed an insane desire to touch and see if he was real.
The meter read 62 rupees and not 78 and 80 like in other autos. His meter was perfect to the last meter. I had 60 rupees in change and the rest of the notes in the purse were hundreds. I asked him apologetically if he change for a 100 as I had only 60 rupees in change. He politely told me that he was fine with the 60, pocketed the money… and drove away.
And that is when I fainted.