When a young girl in her mid twenties decides to shift to a different city to live on her own, parents as well as friends, relatives and neighbours get anxious. They start worrying about her security even though the girl feels extremely liberated within to be free after two decades of parental monitoring. When I was shifting to Hyderabad all my friends and relatives got so worried that they started flooding me with lists of phone numbers of their acquaintances in the Hitech city. Those acquaintances were at times not even close to the ones who gave them. For example my Dad’s friend gave me number of his son’s girlfriend’s sister; my Masi gave me the number of her husband’s second cousin’s daughter’s husband’s brother’s and my maid gave the number of her ex-employer who had shifted to Hyderabad. The list was endless and honestly I had no intentions of calling anyone apart from couple of them probably.
After reaching Hyderabad the first two weeks were spent in house hunting followed by setting up the house. Ahead of the third weekend I found some time and thought of socialising a bit. I had made couple of friends in office but was craving to meet a Bong and speak in Bengali. I looked at the list to find someone interesting and then called up J who was a friend’s friend. Those were the days of orkut and I interacted with her couple of times before landing in Hyderabad. Honestly speaking I liked her and I decided to meet her among all the people whose numbers I had.
On a Friday evening I called J for the first time. Immediately she asked me to join her for a movie the next day. She asked me to come and meet her at a movie hall in Begumpet. I was new in Hyderabad and was not well versed with directions, so I asked her the way to Begumpet from my place. Well, she gave me the direction which I later discovered was the longest route to reach Begumpet. The easiest way to reach Begumpet from my place was to take a bus. However she asked me to take a shared auto till Jubilee Hills, then another shared auto to Ameerpet and again another auto from Ameerpet to Begumpet. By the time I reached Begumpet I was practically ‘autorickshawlagged’.
Now the story doesn’t end here, we do not meet so soon. I have more travel in my fate. After reaching the movie theatre in Begumpet I do call her. She hurriedly picks up the phone and tells me excitedly “Di, we didn’t get the ticket in this theatre hall so we are going to another hall. Please take an auto and follow us.” She gave me the name of the place which was in the outskirts of Hyderabad. It was almost 20kms from Begumpet. I was new in Hyderabad and those were the days when we didn’t have GPS in our mobiles. So I obediently took an auto and started my indefinite journey.
After travelling for more than an hour I reached the cinema hall. The entire way I had called J almost every 5 seconds and each time she said we were close by. The way to the movie hall was through village roads. I almost felt I was going out of Hyderabad.
It was way past noon when we reached the movie hall. J was standing at the gate. She instantly recognised me and we hugged. Don’t think we have reached the happy ending of the story. Picture abhi bhi baki hai mere dost!!! After hugging me she gave me the ‘good’ news that tickets were not available for that day and she has already bought morning show tickets for the next day. Honestly speaking I wonder which news was worse, the tickets not available or the fact that I would have to come to this place once again next day.
We started our journey back. The consolation for the day was we stopped at Secunderabad and had the famous ‘paradise’ biryani. For me it was the first time and it was heavenly experience.
Next day I started my journey to that god forsaken place almost at daybreak. J had bought 5 tickets and one person had already backed out. She messaged me if I can get one of my friends to compensate the ticket. I asked my office friend N and she thankfully obliged. So early in the morning we took a rickety state transport bus to reach Kompally. The whole bus was filled with the smell of stale flowers hanging from the oily hair of Andhra beauties. N suddenly declared she cannot smell this anymore and she need to puke. I was absolutely in no mood to get off from the bus. However she couldn’t hold it any longer and we got down mid way and she started puking. The place we had got down was in the middle of a highway. We couldn’t spot a single transport other than trucks. After waiting for almost 20 minutes we got an autorickshaw.
This is also not the end of the story. J and her two friends were already waiting in front of the movie hall. On seeing us she didn’t look very excited and her morose face set my bells ringing. I knew something was wrong. She came forward and said “Di, there is a bad news. I left the tickets at home.”
By now, N was giving me looks similar to Dharmendra in Sholay, when Gabbar asked Basanti to dance. I wouldn’t have been surprised had she punched me then. If she would have punched me, I would have punched J in rebound. Thankfully nothing like that happened. J’s friend H, the only guy in the group said that he remembers the seat numbers. All of us went to the ticket counter. The movie had already started. We started begging to the counter guy that we were the genuine holders of those seats and he should allow us to enter the hall. He didn’t understand Hindi and we did not understand his Telegu, yet the conversation went on. We used lots of non verbal ways to express. Finally the counter guy understood and asked the usherer to go and check if the seats we claimed ours were still empty or not. The usherer came back and said that those five seats were indeed empty and the movie had already started 15 mins ago. The counter guy was finally convinced and let us enter. The name of the movie was Chak De India…and for us also it was Chak de phatte…..