The girl and the BART

SanFrancisco is a big and vibrant city. Like most cities the airport is a far way from the city center and one uses the BART to commute. The BART, well what an acronym- bay area rapid transit system, it has always been rapid whenever I went by it. So here I was standing in front of the BART ticket machine at the San Francisco international airport around 830PM wondering how much money to put in or if I should pick up a return or a one way ticket, when I saw her.

She looked quite perplexed, a pretty face with a deep frown. Dressed in a bright orange and spotted churidar kameez, she naturally elicited a lot of looks at the buzzling airport. Most regular travelers dress inconspicuously, so this was probably an oddity. I was walking briskly to the ‘down’ escalator as the girl was virtually dragging herself along. The leather yellowish orange duffel bag, that she carried, though stylish (now that was another disparity) is not normally carried by desi’s…Most hobble around in black or dark ensembles out here in America while traveling….Anyway, the girl looked quite uncomfortable, she seemed terrified actually as she neared the escalator, one the bag was obviously heavy and two she had never been on a BART or for that matter the SFO airport. Three she had a laptop bag unbalancing her… Then the obvious errors started, she dropped the bag on the escalator step in front of her. I, a couple of steps behind was startled; the thing did not roll down fortunately. Two - her long 2.5 mts dupatta was starting to trail on the escalator steps, it could easily get caught and create all kinds of problems. I was about to warn her, but she was oblivious to all this, she picked up a mobile from her handbag and was trying to switch it on, at the same time realizing that her dupatta was trailing, but fortunately she had it in her head to pull it up, though more as an unconscious act rather than the danger at hand prompting it. Well anyway the escalator was moving down rapidly and she was still fiddling with her phone and loudly muttering in an obscure undertone…the dammn cell would not start up. And to top it all, she was the least bothered about the fact that she was on an escalator that was about to plunk her on the platform, or me standing a step behind…well the escalator reached its destination, the bag rolled off and the girl stepped down to retrieve it while still on the escalator. By now I was also about to start swearing, what an idiot, I thought, but at the same time I was also feeling sorry for her, I assumed she had come straight from India or well, not very long ago. FOB as they call in US..’fresh off boat’ ( thanks for the correction - anonymous) gal. Just as I was about to fall over her at the foot of the steps, and imagine I myself was already half bent with the heavy overnighter hanging off my back, she managed to retrieve her bags and stepped off, no sorry, no nothing. I was fuming by now. There were hardly a few passengers on the BART station that night and I idly continued to track her with my eyes…

She went to one guy and asked if this was the BART station, indeed he said, she moved off, bag and duppatta trailing, found another Indian uncle about 55 plus I think and comfortably started chatting with him. I was surprised, she was by now managing famously. But the next was out of the blue and caught me totally unawares, she, without any doubt in her mind, tossed her head and walked way across the station (probably 30 mts or so) directly to me and said in a typical singsong south Indian accent ‘can I borrow your cellphone? My phone is dead and I want to make a call’. Well, I sure was surprised; what gall! no American would be so direct. Now I was wondering, who does she want to call, has she come from India, is it India she wants to call? And I asked ‘who do u want to call?’ She murmured ‘my husband’. I had no answer to that, she reeled off a number…561 something (actually I know it, is still on my phone) and I dialed it for her. She launched into a dialogue with hubby straight away, in Telegu, pleading, entreating him about something. Our man was obviously not in any mood to listen to her. That moron was also asking her whose phone she was ringing him with and the such, and he would not understand when she said that it was some Indian guy from the BART station. The girl tried pleading a few more times and finally hung up on him. The instant that was done with, her face relaxed, she returned the phone to me, murmured a thanks and walked off..to continue the chat with uncle.

I thought, well finally all is well that ends well, may she reach wherever she had to reach, safe & sound and make peace with her husband…probably she was on her first unescorted business trip and learning things the hard way…

Well, the story of this encounter did not end there. After a while (the BART had another 3 minutes to arrive- my phone rang and it was the husband calling his wife to settle things or so I presumed. His voice was breaking up but he was asking for her…I could hardly hear so I tried walking across to the wife, phone in outstretched hand – emissary or messenger or whatever. By the time I reached there the line was disconnected. I told her that her husband had called…and that the line had got cut. Believe it or not this is what the girl said, ‘oh the phone got cut, eh? Great, that’s good news (sounded more like - good riddance to that hubby of mine). Good job, thanks…Both the Indian uncle she was chatting away with and me were left astounded…The BART finally came, of course the girl went on and asked yet another guy if that was the BART before getting in and that was it – she went her way..

I spent the next few minutes trying to fathom what transpired in that call and what a strange relationship this couple had…Obviously a small fight which they would eventually resolve, not my headache…

Welcome to San Francisco bay area…..the Mecca for the Indian IT crowd…Go on, enjoy life you IT guys, Strange are your ways, , but we old timers have to wonder at times…to figure out what’s going on…..

Comments

Reshmi said…
Heyy..U r tagged sir..check out my blog..:))

Been really irregular in the blog world..so not checking ur posts lately..but i'll be back next week to catch up with maddy06:))
Anonymous said…
FOB is "fresh off the boat" I thought :)
Maddy said…
hi there, reshmi, will do so soon
Maddy said…
yes u are right, i was racking my brains for much time to get that phrase, then i penned what i thought was close, knowing it was wrong...yes, it is fresh off boat... thanks
Shankari said…
You have a nice blog going, came to your thro indiandoc & welcome back to US and the bay area, it is rat race out here
Maddy said…
hello shankari - thanks for dropping by and hope to see u around often. Cal is a nice place anyway...i will get back to ur blogs in detail soon, the egg biryani on ur pages looked enticing, we will give it a try
addict said…
hi there,

liked ur post. was trying to surf through ur older posts, but some problem i guess, i am not able to open those pages!

cheers!
chethan
Maddy said…
thanks chetan, for dropping by...the new beta blogger is a bit different. if u click on the month, nothing happens, click on the small arrow on the left of the month and it should open out the archive...
Shankari said…
Hi Maddy

Wish you a Very Happy Diwali!
indianadoc said…
A very happy divali to u and u'r family...lot to catch up with...shall come back again...
Maddy said…
thanks a lot, wish u all a happy diwali too

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