• Mohana Prabhakar

What’s in your pocket?

How can you possibly ever explain why the phone that everyone, including you, has been looking for is ringing from inside your handbag? And the person whose phone that is, is someone you are meeting for the first time and you are a guest at her home.

It was a long-delayed and much-anticipated meeting where someone very close to us was introducing us to a special person in his life. We were supposed to go to the lady’s house for dinner, and 8.30 was the time we had agreed on. I found out later that 8.30 was departure time, with arrival time left in jeopardy because the rain had intensified from a barely-there drizzle to a mighty shower.

It was an exciting drive through an unimaginable quantity of trucks, vans, buses, cars, auto rickshaws and two-wheelers, and did I forget to mention people? Flashes of lightning only added to the whole experience, and no doubt any thunder would have been drowned out by the constant cacophony of so many different automobile horns.

We arrived at our host’s place in surprisingly good time and ready for a bit of chilling out. The minute we turned off the road into this gated property, it felt like we had finally been successful in turning down the volume on the TV.

As we got off our Uber car, I saw the big palm trees swaying in the cool breeze, lining the streets in uniform precision and just for a moment, I thought I was back home in Muscat. All of this background is here mainly to show that there was a touch of surrealness to the entire evening.

Let me also add here in my defense, that we had arrived just after 10pm. Ten is normally by when we’ve long had dinner, and settled in with a book or a movie.

Greetings done, we settled into a room that had a really calm vibe even though the colours were boldly monochrome with a dash of silver. Music and drink set, and we were well on our way to getting to know each other, when it happened.

Our host very kindly offered to get us some nachos and kebabs and she went into a hallway that I presumed led to the dining and kitchen spaces. We waited for her to return to continue our very interesting discussion about life in call centers. It is important to talk seating arrangements here. I was sitting beside our host on a small settee, while the other two occupied a large sofa.

She came back to search for her phone, and I quickly looked around on our sofa, the side table and there was nothing. The obvious conclusion was that she must have left it in the kitchen, and a quick search showed it wasn’t there. Now, I’d really like it if it was I who suggested that we should call her phone, but it wasn’t.

And the ringing started. Right there in the room, right next to where I was sitting. I moved to the side, nothing there. I picked up my bag just in case the phone had slid under, and nothing. And then, that dreaded moment. “Ummm, Mohana. It’s actually ringing inside your bag.” After that it was all a mad blur of unclasping my little bag and finding her phone along with two of mine, face flaming while unable to stop laughing hysterically.

At that moment I didn’t even notice what brand it was or what it looked like. I was too busy saying sorry. Soon after everyone stopped laughing and she felt it was safe to put her phone down again in between us, my heart suddenly revived. I was not a hidden shoplifter and neither was I going senile.

The Phone was the exact same model and colour of the phone that I use in India and had with me that evening. At least now I could explain how it jumped into my handbag, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to be able to think of this anytime soon without cringing.

Luckily the connections are not irreparably damaged but rest assured I am going to check a hundred times before I pick up a phone again. Let alone put it in my bag.

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