She went past the Pharmacie and kept walking literally having no clue where she
should be going, walked by yet another cafe... as it rained harder...
She realized it was St Patrick's Day or L Fhile Phdraig,
R&B bought a bunch of newspapers,
Le Monde, La Croix and Liberation... and The Local in English
Being a Monday there was tons of people on the streets though it was way past
10 PM, not that II had any idea when Parisians went to bed, she took Swissair for her 3 trips to the US...
She walked up and down the cafe block, just like many side walk cafes it was the corner building, the restaurant occupying the V shaped corner
She went round and round a couple times, contemplating if she should go in and ask for help. Call the police?
She spotted 3 men sitting out smoking early mid thrities, laughing chatting, all dark haired like II, skin like SE Asian Middle Easterners
She gingerly walked up to the men... and paused, they stopped talking to look at her... and nodded, drenched and tired she must have looked like a homeless girl,
the water dripping of the curvy purple colored awning edge pouring over her head...
"Ummm... do uhave a phone?" she asked
One man blew smoke out and nodded tapping his phone, the other two whispered amongst themselves
II opened her purse and fished the 50 EU bill out... and stretched her arm... they were seated on the table towards the inside of the sidewalk
By the window... the waitress came by with another round of beers for them... set it emptied the table of other things and left
"I have to make a call" II began
One man got up, and did a wave thing with his hand... "U come in? it rains" he said
She immediately opened the knee length wrought iron gate and stood by them...
"I have to call my husband" she put the crushed bill on the table
"Can I call India?" she begged sobbing
The men looked at her SHOCKED!! All three pushed their phone towards her, the one smoking picked up his and punched in his password and handed it to her, quickly stubbing his cigarette out
She dialled with shaking fingers, he had set it on the phone menu...00-91-9712345678...
she knew it was a series... SOME SERIES
It rang somewhere in Maharashtra... nobody picked up... how she knew it was Maharashtra, because she dialled it AGAIN!! and a man picked up and yelled
She began to cry more...
The smoker gave up his seat for her, "Sit, please sit"
The other two got up as if struck by lightning... and leaned back on the restaurant window with the beer mug in their hands.. they began talking within themselves
She dialed 00-91-9812345678, "Dial kiya gaya number vyast hai, kripya prateeksha karen" she began hyperventilating... she didnt know how long
the men would let her try before they would start wondering if she was a con artist of some sort
The waitress brought a steaming plate of something one of the men by the wall accepted it... the gal lingered by her... the man that lent her his phone said something to her in French she nodded and left
II dialed again 00-91-9912345678...
"Hello" he said softly ON FIRST RING
SHE BURST OUT CRYING... "I am lost... I am lost... I dont know where I am... I am lost" I am lost" she said it atleast seven times
"II" he had to yell to shut her up... "OK listen to me... listen to me"
"I am lost da... I dont know where I am at... its raining... tappana train la eritten, rendu time (I got on the wrong train, TWICE) "
"Which trains?" he asked gruffly as if he understood Tamil
"I am lost, I am not even sure where I am" she cried uncontrollably
"shhh shhh shhh OK... take a deep breath... OK II... listen to me... sshhh"
"Nee ippave vaa inge" "Please da"
"OK II I can only come if I know where you are at" he begged
"I am lost I am lost" she ranted all over again 5? 7? times
"II... shhh shhh" "OK stop crying" he begged
She cried "Helo hello hello" she screamed fearing he disconnected
"I am here... I am right here... I am right here... I wont hang up I promise"
"PESU DA... PLEASE I AM BEGGING YOU PESU" Talk to me please talk to me)
"Ok can u tell me a cross street?" he asked
"I dont know... its said something like Vincennes (Vincent's she said)"
"YOU ARE AT CHATEAU DE VINCENNES?" he asked stupefied
"I think I got off that train... and went out.. WHERE IS IT AM I OUTSIDE PARIS?" she begged
"No... no... no... u are not... not far at all... I am in a cab right now... hang on ... OK II LISTEN TO ME TALK TO THE DRIVER.. I HAVENT HUNG UP OK"
"Hmmm" SHE NODDED as if it was video call
He said Chateau de Vincennes to the driver
"OK tell me a cross street, read off a board... a store sign SOMETHING" he begged softly
She held the phone on her chest and looked around, the entire street across... was dark... and the one perpendicular
The cafe was not well lit but she saw many heads inside
"I dont know.. YOU HAVE TO FIND ME"
A half smile escaped him "LIKE I WAS GOING TO ABANDON YOU. YOU FOOL!"
"Ofcourse I will"
"Seekram va da please" she begged
"OK WHOSE phone are u calling from?"
"I dont know... they were eating at a cafe... I just asked them" she said
"can I talk to them please? he begged "OK II hand the phone to the guy you got it from, I PROMISE I will talk to you soon after"
"No I wont" she said furiously
"II" he begged
"What if it disconnects, its a India number... its raining..." she begged
"It can do that WHILE I am talking with you" he almost shouted
"Ayyyo!! Then how will u find me?" she began to cry
"II, PLEASEEE kanna... he begged
she handed it to the guy "Its my husband" she said
The man stubbe dout his second cigarette and accepted the call politely
And started to speak in French... walked out into the rain to find a shop number on the awning... and then his friends mocked him to GO INSIDE TO ASK
He joked back and went in wiping his head... saying something in French on the phone... and came back two minutes later, II opened the door and peeked in, he was still on the phone
She leaned on the glass door and cried
He opened the other door and gave the phone to her, she fished in her bag and handed him another 50 EU
He smiled shook his head and said "U speak?" he offered
She garbbed the phone
"Uhh hello... eppo varey..." she asked
"OK Its 13 kms from home... I think I have 7.8 to go, should be there in 15-20"
"Keep talking to me... I wont let u hang up I WONT" she shouted
"OK fine... say something" he said
"I dont know U SAY SOMETHING" she ordered huskily
"Umm I ate the tikkis" he said
"did u like it?" she asked crying
"I will answer if u stop crying" he ordered
"OK fine... RAKSHASAN!" she cursed
He said he liked it and talked about the Swiss startup, the lunch celebration he got from his co workers... and before he was done, the cab pulled up
He got off... she hung up and quickly returned the phone and flung herself into his arms he dragged her back under the awning
"take off ur hoodie, u are soaked" he muttered
She hugged him tight and soaked his navy JCrew hoodie
"II" he coaxed softly
She let go of him for a second... she unzipped, he took off his hoodie and handed to her they did a hoodie exchange, he held her soaked one in her hand
The men watched grinning
"Can I go thank them?" he asked
"NOO!!" she said angrily going back to hug him
He dragged her with him and thanked them in French, the two Algerian and one Jordanian national spoke like they knew R&B all their life
(Author's Note: This is a tribute to all those nameless faceless strangers around the world that spontaneously help someone in need. Humanity transcends religion or race
Again a story from my past, the Feb after my Grad School (I threw a fit and insisted on extending my December vacation until Feb, my hubs reluctantly agreed and returned alone)
commencement when I was returning from India with my 3 year old... I cant remember if it was Amsterdam or Frankfurt
I think I was flying the THEN NorthWest Airlines, they merged with KLM (they code shared then), I had arrived from Delhi to that hub, waiting to go onwards to the US my 3 year old cried all the way, with a ear infection and started to sleep after we landed
I HAD to put him down and go to the rest room I was MSing too... it was abs killing me... I figured out signs for pictures with mother and baby found one with 50 bassinets inside, put him down
An Arabic lady walked by her sleeping toddler... humming softly... wearing a burqa and head scarf covering her head completely. I joined my hands in prayer and said "I HAVE TO GO TO THE REST ROOM I am leaving my child with you"
I RAN I was in and out in 7 minutes I think... when I leave India my Mom usually pins flowers in my hair at the airport...
I usually wear salwar kameez only with bindi vibhuti and all (for safe travels)
I cried when I thanked her upon my return
She asked "U from India?"
I nodded I couldnt respond
She said "Amman" (Jordan) she said
This is my tribute to her and the countless others that have helped Anu, Nivi, SR and many of us.
May we help strangers find their way and hope strangers help us find ours
Edited by Nisha0604 - 6 years ago