Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Instant lifestyle

Priti was at the Bangalore airport on her way to Delhi to rejoin work, after a weekend break to catch up with classmates. There was a lot of time for the flight. So she decided to wait till about an hour before the departure time to check in.

She took out her mobile. Checked messages, replied to some of them, and put it back in her bag. She thought it was a nice time to catch up with the novel she was reading.

She took the book out. That's when she caught the sight of a 20-something guy video chatting with a young woman.

Probably, that girl must be miles away, in some other continent. How distance has become irrelevant, thanks to the gadgets and someone's invention, she thought.

With the novel in her hands, Priti's memories raced back to the past. There were days when she had ...

- waited for more almost an hour to get a bus to go to her college,

- waited one month to get a reply to the letter she sent to her boyfriend,

- waited for 10 pm, so that she needed to pay only one-fourth when she made the long-distance calls to her parents and friends,

- waited nearly two days for the counting of Lok Sabha election ballot papers to get over, so that she knew who will be the next prime minister,

- waited for months to see the Oscar-award winning Hollywood movie.

Today it is all different. Everything is not just fast, but instant.

An air hostess sat down beside Priti, and was feverishly typing out on WhatsApp. Probably, she won't be able to use her mobile for another 10 or 12 hours, while she is in flight. Must be chatting with her boyfriend.

Only the previous day, Priti's boss, the accounts manager, had shouted at her for not replying immediately to his email. "Do you need 24 hours to type out a one-line reply," he had barked at her.

When Priti went for the interview for her job in the advertising agency Delhi last year, she had a tough time getting a cab at the Delhi airport. So, only after getting a cab, she messaged her mom. But mom was furious. "Ok, you had problem with the cab. But why couldn't you just call when the flight landed?" mom had shouted at her.

The guy who was doing the long-distance video chat with the girl had lost the video link, and he was desperate to get connected again.

Why on earth are people so impatient, she thought. Can't people just wait?

Her eyes fell on the airport cafeteria that proudly announced how customers would get their food within five minutes of ordering. How is that possible? What will be the quality of the food? Perfect, for the human race that has no time for anything; not even to eat good food.

Priti heard the phone beep. Usually, she is never in a hurry to check messages, especially if she is doing something or reading a book. But she was only getting distracted seeing things around her; and so, took her mobile out.

It was a WhatsApp message in her school group. She froze as she read it. Julie, her friend and classmate, who was in the hospital with dengue, was no more.

Priti couldn't believe it.

Ya people die of dengue, but Julie was recovering. And she was okay when I met her.

She put the mobile in her bag, stood up, walked up to the airline counter, and just cancelled her flight. Priti couldn't think anything; but her thoughts were all clouded.

She got into the first cab that pulled up, put the bag aside and stretched back. As she closed her eyes, she wondered how could that happen.

In about an hour, she was at the house of Julie. She looked around for someone, and spotted Janani. Priti struggled to hold back tears.

Janani hugged Priti, and muttered into her ears. "That was a false alarm, Priti. Julie is recovering."

Priti released herself from the arms of Janani, moved back and looked into her eyes. "What?"

Instantly, a sigh of relief and a smile.

Janani knew Priti was leaving for Delhi, and guessed that she must have cancelled her flight. She also knew Priti hadn't seen the subsequent messages.

There was embarrassment, relief, anger, everything, when Janani explained: "I had told Radhika, don't shoot off that message, into the group. Wait, for half an hour, at least, till we get a confirmation from the doctor. What is the point in putting out another message that it was a false alarm, and Julie is recovering?"

Priti didn't know what to say. "Thank God," she muttered, and managed a smile.

The last one hour had drained all the energy out of her. She sat on a chair that she found nearby, took her phone, and called the airline.

(This work of fiction is part of the "Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2018.")

18 comments:

  1. Wow...even though its a work of fiction, each and every line written holds true in present scenario....Awesome writing Pradeep...keep it coming..

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  2. This story has a sense of acute restlessness and combined with the subject, works wonders. I used to have pen friends from different countries and it was an absolute pleasure writing to them in your own handwriting, receiving their replies after weeks if not months...those were fantastic days. People also had time for others. Not so much now. We do live in a world of selfies and selfishness.

    I is for Innocence

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  3. Interesting and good twist but yes in an instant life all of us

    here from Second thoughts First

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  4. Wow! Could relate to each and every word! Wonderful :)

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  5. This story brings up some very good points! I have some friends who are teachers, and they remark on how some children are are so used to instant results in everything that they have very little patience. We really should be trying to cultivate more patience, not less!

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    1. Yes, fully agree with you, Jenny. Technology has speeded up things, but, apparently, at the cost of patience.

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  6. instant in't always good, I think. but I guess it's nice to get the news quickly especially about people you care about. though I think I prefer the waiting, just a little. good story.

    have a lovely day.

    my latest a-z is: introduce yourself

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  7. Excellent. I never expected the twist at the end that
    was heartening for Priti to hear but upsetting her
    travel plan.A gripping narration.

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  8. A gripping story, I loved how you mentioned that everyone is in hurry and then connecting the same with the climax of the story.

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  9. Loved the ending. In my opinion, telephone is the best invention of all times, so far. I can talk to my grandma in a remote village in Tamil Nadu while I am driving at 80 MPH on the Golden Gate Bridge in the Bay Area.

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    1. Indeed the phone has revolutionised the world. Only that the phone is much more than what it was meant to be.
      Thanks, SG.

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