To Radio One 94.3 FM – The Prequel
Believe me when I say this –Twitter is responsible for this post! I mean, how often do you expect 140 characters, tweeted to someone you follow, to get noticed? And then, it happens. (Just like it did once before.) You get a reply. Holy Matrimony! I felt like Hrithik Roshan did when he got a reply from the other side. Yeah, cyber space ka JAAADU. Anyway, once I got over the awkward facial expressions, it hit me. I was going to be on Radio One 94.3 FM, LIVE , in less than 24 hours!
Ok, I always knew I wanted my voice to be heard, but I swear speaking at the school PTA was all that I aspired for. This was a tad bit too much, too soon. Never the one to go back on a promise, (I’m still married, ain’t I?) I let the sun rise the next day. My ever faithful companion on road trips, Ola Cabs was there for a pick-up, way before time. Ah, a good omen! What could possibly go wrong?
I planned to leave at 9.05 am, I left by 9.25 am. Those were the most expensive twenty minutes in the history of radio. Till 9.50 am I had not even reached Andheri Flyover, thanks to the bumper to bumper traffic. And I was headed to Parel East. I did what any person meaning to reach on time would. Redirected the cab to the railway station, paid him an extra 50 bucks for cutting the journey short, and headed to the ticket counter. The serpentine lines made my heart sink! How on earth would I be on air if I could not get off the damn ground? It is for such times that First Class travel has been created. I went right ahead to the same window and asked for a one way ticket to Lower Parel, much to the annoyance of disgruntled second class citizens. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm O N E T I C K E T L O W E R P A R E L. No, you read that too fast. The ticket counter man spoke as though he’d just come out of coma, I kid you not. He asked me the same question, in the same tone, and speed, FIVE times. The people in the queue were ready to pounce on me and I, ready to kill him. In exasperation, I told him, “Churchgate ka hi de do, par bhagwan ke liye ek ticket DO!” (Give me a ticket for Churchgate if you must, but for Hrishikay’s sake, hand me one NOW!). In what can be described as the most lethargic hand movement, he gave me the ticket. The watch read 10.01 am.
The overhead bridge was never crossed in such hurry, even whilst I travelled regularly. Today, thankfully, one of those days when size matters. Oh, this would be a good time to let you know, I was using this mode of transport after nearly a decade. But you know what they say about cycling, and travelling via Western Railways. Once you learn the ropes, you never forget, almost. So as I hurried to the Fast Train platform for a train that was scheduled to arrive at 10.05 am, the ‘clueless me’ scouted around for the First Class Compartment. The train was slowing down as people were readying to get on it. It is like the start of an Olympic race, this train boarding. Any minute there would be a gun shot and you’d have to make a dash for it. So did I! I jumped into the first ladies compartment I saw and rushed to the other side of the door. Dadar platform would arrive that side. And in case you haven’t figured out already, I paid first class fare for a ride in the second class. The time was 10.07 am.
Fast trains are a boon I tell you. Dadar, which was otherwise 8 stations away, arrived at the second stop. I quickly made my way to the next platform to catch the slow train to Lower Parel. Though for a minute I did contemplate taking a cab from here itself, however, I vetoed the idea even as I thought about it. The slow trains, for the dilettante, are a thriving ecosystem of their own. You have vendors who flit in and out, as people sit near, but are not close. Three and a half is the standard operating seating procedure. Yes, it is way better to accommodate half a posterior than none, on a long train journey. So people on a slow train await their destinations, those unfortunate stations that did not make it to the fast track. The train was now slowing down at Elphinstone. As I stood waiting for people to board the train, I saw Parel in the far distance, the Central Railway line. Something rang a bell. I checked my email. I was to be in Parel East and NOT Lower Parel. Dear Lord! I almost heard the Ticket Counter Coma man saying O N E T I C K E T L O W E R P A R E L in a heinous soprano. I jumped off just as the train began trudging out of the station. Thank God, I chose to wear flats! The clock showed 10.35am
I hurried to the overhead bridge only to realise when I was atop, it went to the western side. I needed to go to the east. Believe me, in Bombay, the east and west have a huge role to play. I jumped down and climbed up the other side. Once out, the road barricade made me walk all the way down to the end of the bridge. Sigh! If I walked this much every day, I’d give size zero a run for its shape. 10.42 was when I got a cab. I asked if he could get me to my destination in 10 minutes. He turned, smiled and said, “Usse kam time main” (Way lesser time than 10). I blessed him, texted Hrishikay I’d be there in 10 and heaved a sigh of relief. The cab guy was true to his word. 10.49 am and I was at Penninsula Centre. I tipped him generously, saying he had no clue what he had done for me, today. He was a bit flummoxed and tried telling me something. I was already flying my way through the entrance. I was going to be on AIR after all!
The Sequel is here!