Continued from Homeless Man in Budapest….
My landlady Gabriella was a middle aged friendly woman. While giving the main door password, she cautioned like a typical mother ‘write down the number, keep it safe. If you forget you are in trouble’. When the hell have I been so obedient to listen to instructions? Overconfidence is my second name. Like a true ‘rebel’ I didn’t bother to write it down or as we do these days take a picture on mobile. I relied on my brain’s memory card, which opportunely betrayed, mocking at my confidence.
After the suspenseful encounter with the homeless man when I reached the main gate of my apartment I confidently keyed in 5548 and immediately an error message blinkered on the screen. I typed again and the same error message came. The password was 5448 but my overenthusiastic brain had jumbled it up as 5548. I started typing various combinations. Each time the error message was displayed my panic level rose to a new panic threshold.
After trying numerous permutation and combination I almost gave up. My Indian SIM was not working in Hungary. There was no Wi-Fi and my mobile battery was precariously red on 11%. The weather was not being pleasant to me either. It was cold and windy and the streets were dangerously deserted with only couple of homeless people scattered around. The lane in which my apartment was located was dimly lit and there was not a single person I could call out for help. Most of the shops were also closed. I was feeling helpless and almost on the verge of tears. Spending the night on the street locked out of my home was not exactly my idea of a perfect solo vacation. All kinds of scary thought started fogging my mind. The evening encounter had already shaken me a bit. What if I get mugged/raped/kidnapped/killed? My family wouldn’t even come to know of my macabre condition.
While I was going through these misgivings I saw a flicker of light coming from the corner of the street. It seemed one of the shops was still open. I immediately ran towards the source of the light. Thankfully the, shop was indeed open. The feeling was no less than discovering El Dorado. I rushed inside the shop. There was nobody inside. I called out quite a few times. A young man with a conspicuous paunch came out. I desperately asked him “Do you have Wi-Fi?” He nodded his head and went inside. I assumed he went to switch on the router or something like that but the man came back after sometime with a bottle of white wine. He extended the bottle towards me. I hesitantly asked him “Wi-Fi?” the confusion was evident in my tone. He gave me a confused smile and said in broken English “No Wi fi, only white wine”. I could have started crying but controlled myself and started to explain him my situation and asked him to let me make a call from his phone. After listening intently he said “I no Ingles.” I understood that all my talking went in vain. He was about to close his shop and there was no point trying to explain.
I was out in the cold and dark lane once again. I was thinking of ways to call Gabriella. There was a hotel near my apartment which was open. I thought of making a call from there. I started walking towards the hotel when I saw the man from the shop coming behind me. He was coming towards me. When he came near me he started saying something in Hungarian. Obviously I didn’t understand a word. He was vigorously pointing his hand towards my apartment and asking me something. I nodded even without understanding a single word. He smiled happily and went near the gate. He typed a password and just like the door in Alibaba and 40 thieves the main gate to my apartment opened. He pointed towards a flat on the first floor and I understood that he lived there. I felt so relieved that I felt like hugging him. Finally, I crossed the greenish mossy courtyard and climbed the narrow medieval styled stairs to enter the old fashioned manual lift with wooden double door panels to reach the warmth of my third floor flat.