Mobility in Crisis
It was a cold night. The wind chimed in rapturous melody, and all my friends were busy in the musical exertions prompted by the DJ. It was a time to rejoice. But alas, it was not mine. For hardly an hour had passed since my mobile got stolen. And here I was, left without a clue. My friend, Nidhi, was wowing the crowd of pepped up ICFAIans with her vivacious rendering of Pink’s hit single “Get the party started”, when my new Nokia 3100 (which, ironically, had a pink casing), still in its laminated shell, decided to go AWOL.
It was announced to the crowd twice, and my number called up repeatedly, only to find that it was switched off, a clear indication that the guy who took it was a keen believer of the “Finders keepers, losers weepers” philosophy. And weep I did. Friends were co-operative and sympathetic in turn. The standard operating procedure was decidedly calling up my number, finding it was switched off, and then shaking their heads back and forth thrice, while tut-tutting in unison. This algorithm was followed meticulously by all my friends, except Ashika, who shook her head four times. But then again, she always WAS one step ahead of most people.
My cousin Roshan gave his patented “Tough luck, ol’ sport” look, and generally, everyone had the same reaction to this personal tragedy of mine. All except my roommate, Nash. When I saw him two days after the incident, and told him, he jumped up and stared at me as if I just told him a tsunami had swept away my home. He asked me “When?”, and “How?”, in roughly the same tone a journalist might ask “Were there any survivors?”. He was filled with anguish and a deep hatred for “whoever perpetrated the heinous crime”. And I have no doubt that if he had a sword, he would have wasted no time in brandishing it. He spoke with a keenness that would have been alarming to those who knew not the way Nash works. I doubt if Winston Churchill ever gave a more ardent speech.
To understand this sort of zeal, you must first understand the relationship that Nash has with a cell phone. Some people are born with silver spoons in their mouths. Although he denies it, I believe Nash may just have been born with a cell phone in his. He’s a guitarist, he’s a marketing graduate, he’s a regular pain, but most people recognize him as “the guy with the phone”
(Scene: The year 2020. Nash sees an old colleague and moves in…)
N: Hey! Long time no see!!
OC: Hmm?? Who are you?
N: Nash… college… ICFAI… Marketing… Remember?
OC: ?? Uhh… Sorry
(Takes out his Sony Ericsson and puts it to his ears)
OC: OH! Nisho!! Wassup, dude?
And so on…
To get back on track, he revved up and swore vengeance. “Hamish”, he said, “Don’t worry. We’ll get this scumbag. We’ll get him, and we’ll squish him like a rotten tomato”, and he said that with the quiet confidence of someone who’s been squishing rotten tomatoes since he was three.
And so began Nash’s vigilant watch. He called up my number on a periodic basis, keeping his fingers crossed. And you should appreciate the fact that it is kind of difficult dialing numbers while you have your fingers crossed. Then one night he struck gold. He got an engaged tone! Someone was using my phone! Faster than the eye can see (well, at least a closed eye), he then called up Hutch to find out the calls that were made from my mobile. He drilled the guy from Hutch Care and squeezed out the details, all the while prompting me to jot down the numbers, names, and other details on a piece of paper that would soon come to be called “the evidence”. He then dialed the unfamiliar numbers. Claiming to be the police, he got one of the respondents to spill his guts. Not literally, but his tone implied that being literal would be no problem for him. In essence, he found out the guy’s name. He was the driver at a popular resort in Bangalore. The resort where we had the party. THE resort where I lost the phone!! Nash looked as if he would gladly have followed the Archimedes tradition of jumping out of a tub screaming “Eureka, eureka”, and I believe the only reason that did not happen was that he was not in a tub at that point in time. We went to the resort’s management, who were very co-operative and concerned about avoiding a scandal. Co-operative to the extent of feeding us coffee and a lavish breakfast while we made our case and showed “the evidence”. Using that as a stepping-stone, we secured the manager’s word that he’d get it back… And he did.
Nash couldn’t have been happier if he had discovered the cure for cancer. He had a look of content and was clearly dying to pat himself on the back for a job well done. And considering the length of his arms, it would have been a very easy task to accomplish. He also vocally expressed a notion of quitting his job to pursue a fruitful career in the CBI. He said he was just kidding, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a notice in the paper saying “The CBI is NOT recruiting… Please don’t send your resumes to us. At least not the same resume again and again and again. Please!! Pretty please.”
It’s not everyone who manages to recover his or her stolen mobile phones. I guess I was lucky. I was lucky the guy who stole it wasn’t a seasoned veteran in the art; that he didn’t just throw away the SIM card and move on; that the Hutch guys co-operated; that the guy worked in a resort that cared enough of its reputation to preserve its good name; that the thief gave it back without too much of a fuss; that he didn’t damage my phone other than removing the lamination and wiping out some contact details. But more than that, I guess I’m lucky I have a roomie who thinks boarding a bus without a mobile entitles him to the “handicapped only” seats.