After the 24-hour journey, our train reached Pune on time. I was traveling alone and was to join the other members of our cricket team who had already reached, a day ahead. The hosts had confirmed my pick up from the Railway Station.
I alighted and went to the exit expecting a representative or a familiar person for the pick up. But none were seen. Myriad thoughts fly when something expected does not happen. What if there was a delay from their side? Had someone already come and gone back? Was there another exit where someone might have been waiting? Should I hire a vehicle? Were they able to send the vehicle for me at all? Etc. The Guest House was about 4-5 kms. away.
With these thoughts, I spent 15-20 minutes. Suddenly I could also link another possibility. During the journey, a co-passenger was reading that day's paper where there was a mention of some civic agitation in Pune city that day. Was it having any bearing on my reaching the Guest House and a vehicle not sent?
In the absence of a cell phone in my pocket and in a bid to contact my friend who was also in the transport committee, I looked around for public telephones at the station. I had seen many of them during my previous visit to that station some years ago. There were none now. On inquiry, a policeman on duty told me that they had all been removed and added that most of the people have mobile phones these days. He showed me a row of shops where a public telephone booth was. It was outside the station premises, across the busy road. Going there with my luggage was tough.
It was now well over 40 minutes since I had alighted. It was time for desperate steps. The situation was crying for a cell phone!
In the meanwhile I had been observing an elderly man. He seemed to be leisurely and his body language spoke about 'waiting for someone'. Expectedly, he was wielding his mobile phone as if waiting for some call. I approached him and briefed about my plight. Smilingly he agreed to call my friend from his mobile. He dialed the number which I dictated from my little phone book. Tap, tap tap.... tring.... hello! I told my friend about my waiting. He cleared the air saying that indeed there was a problem in sending the vehicle for me and that I must come on my own.
That stranger had been waiting for his wife to arrive in another train which was running late. I thanked him profusely for helping me call from his mobile phone. I reached the Guest House in an autorickshaw in ten minutes!
A cell phone in my own pocket would have avoided confusion but I am one among the minority who are 'mobileless'. More than me, my friends want me to carry one of my own! There is a serious procrastination on this. Many of my friends' eyebrows shoot up when they ask for 'my cell number'! "I'm still immobile" is my answer!