Tuesday, a day dedicated to Lord Hanuman and various other deities in Hindu Mythology. My mother always used to remind me “Don’t forget to visit the temple even if it is for thirty seconds, its Tuesday today.”
For me, it was my second day in a new organization. The first couple of weeks after switching your job are expected to be slow wherein most of your time is spent either in a conference room filling forms or a lecture hall. My day was no different, there were ten other members with me seated around a large oval shaped conference table. It was probably the largest room I had seen in the past couple of days. The atmosphere in the room was amplified due to the aroma of tea and strong coffee served with evening snacks. The entrance of the conference room including the door were made of glass.
The white board on the side was calling out and reminding us of the various discussions scribbled in different colours, we had over the past twenty-four hours. The other side of the room was shining with bright colours reflecting from the pristine white overhead projector hanging from the middle of the ceiling. The room was beaming with dimming sunlight flowing through the sizeable windows directly opposite the entrance.
Prateek was the only known face in the room, he was my junior and we had worked together for nearly a decade. He is what we call a people manager, always smiling and driving different initiatives on the floor.
“Hey, we can see our old office from here,” exclaimed Prateek slightly moving his head towards the window which till an hour ago was covered with blinds.
“Oh, yah, it has been nearly two years since I left,” I replied in a thoughtful tone; “I am still wearing the Fossil watch you guys gave me when I was leaving,” I added while fiddling the metallic black dial.
As we were discussing, we heard a hoarse voice from near the entrance “Okay everyone, hope you have filled in and submitted your forms. Remember you need to submit your marksheets and other proofs with me,” announced Ms. Rai.
Ms. Rai was from the Human Resources department, walking in and out of the conference room ever so frequently; One could see her running around outside the conference room from one discussion to another.
“Once you have submitted your documents you can leave for the day, report back here tomorrow morning,” stated Ms. Rai.
By the time I completed filling all forms and gathering all the required documents through my dossier it was nearly half past five. I submitted my documents and started gathering my papers which were scattered all over the place.
“Don’t forget your office Laptop,” suggested Prateek who was all set and ready to leave.
“Dhanyawaad (Thanks), I almost missed putting it in my backpack,” I replied.
Prateek stayed at thirty minutes from my house which till now, I was never aware of even though I had interacted with him for many years. “How are you planning to go home?” he asked while putting his backpack around his shoulders.
“B.E.S.T is best” was my witty reply.
“I can drop you, on my Scooter,” replied Prateek mimicking a biker with his hands holding the invisible handlebars.
“Scooter?” I thought about it for a minute but don’t know why but I reluctantly said “Okay, let us go.”
We had received our ID Cards on the same day and as was the custom we had to do two things, swipe out using our ID card and the biometric sensor. Well, that’s what we IT folks call two factor authentication. The office building had six elevators, but we preferred to take the stairs at least while coming down even though we were on the eight-floor of the building.
“Now comes the difficult part, finding where I parked my scooter,” exclaimed Prateek searching for his vehicle through the crowd of bikes, scooters and even few bicycles. “There it is” informed Prateek pointing towards one corner of the parking garage.
The scooter was red in color, with customary mirrors on the sides like in any vehicle. Prateek was not carrying a helmet, unless he had somehow hidden it in his backpack which seemed impossible. As I was about to ask him about the same, he lifted the seat and lo, the helmet was hidden yes, but under the seat storage. Prateek had also received a Dell laptop from office which came with its own branded backpack.
“You are not going to carry your backpack?” I asked Prateek as I saw him hanging the same in a hook just below the speedometer.
“Nope, it is safe there and if I carry it on my back, there won’t be much space for you to sit” he replied.
As we drove out from the garage, we were greeted by the sight of large green trees with a fresh breeze blowing left to right. Mindspace (The Technology Park) was vast, if one took an ariel shot of the place one could view an oval shaped garden in the centre surrounded by eight office buildings. In addition, there were two more buildings under construction on the other end of the garden. It was going to take us approximately an hour to reach near my house. Technically speaking our office was not in Mumbai, it was in the outskirts in Airoli.
“Lucky, we left early, not much traffic at this time,” I observantly mentioned while holding on to the back handle of the scooter.
Prateek was concentrating on his driving and was replying with a nod or a simple yes.
I spoke too soon as we got some light traffic near Airoli circle which was manned by a fisherman’s statue. A busy junction on a normal day, which indicated the start of Airoli for the inflowing traffic and vice-versa for people leaving.
As we waited a few seconds near the signal I saw the sign on the left of the road politely wishing everyone “Thank you for visiting Airoli, do come again.”
Post the signal, started a bridge which connected Airoli to Mumbai as the land was partitioned by a creek whose water flowed towards the Indian Ocean. As soon as the signal turned green, we could hear the impatience around us due to the deafening sound of vehicles honking. We were driving in the left most lane at an easy pace of forty to fifty kilometres per hour, while most of the vehicles were zooming past from our right. As we were nearing the creek, the breeze became cooler.
“Banggg” came a sudden sound it was as though something hit us. As Prateek tried steading the scooter I saw a bike swaying past from behind us. We lost control, our vehicle fell sideways, and we started skidding along the road. I could see tires of different sizes speeding past us, some far and some almost near us. From the side of my eye, I could see Prateek slipping further away from me as I was completely off the vehicle and was drifting on my right side at a comparatively slower pace. I had no idea what was happening, I think I was conscious or was I?
What do you think happened next? Do share your views in the comments box.
To read the second part please follow the below link.