‘Be punctual’ was one of the many mantras that my father, may he rest in peace, had taught me. He had practiced religiously what he preached so profoundly. One of the memories that I hold dear to my heart is of my dad standing near the school gate waiting for my school bus to return from the ten day trip to Mussoorie. This was the first trip I had taken without my parents. I was in 8th standard then, so I am talking of something that happened almost 11 years ago. The reunion with my parents was to be a dramatic one and the emotional heaviness was palpable. My dad the sentimentalist that he was (I get the tag of being an emotional fool from him as a legacy as well) was standing there with a beautiful red rose in his hands. After a decade I have no idea where that rose withered too or where the smell vanished away… but the memory stays and today by writing about it I make it immortal!
Well this write-up is not about roses or re-unions. It is about the curse of punctuality. So the main point of the story that I was narrating earlier on was that the first thing my dad told me was “your mom n I have been waiting here for the past 2 hours!” that to me seemed odd considering we had driven back in good time and were at school only half hour late than the scheduled time. When I was alone with mom I asked her in a whisper, “why 2 hours?” My dad heard this and that was the first time I remember being given the decree that was to prove a curse over the years. “Always! Remember always reach before time. Its better to be 5 minutes early than even 1 minute late.”
This was just not a piece of advice that was given to me. I believe with all my heart that it was a moment when the celestial powers had said in chorus--- so it shall be! Till this date no one who has met me will ever tell you that I was late for an appointment. I reach at weddings before the venue is fully decorated, the relatives and the hosts have arrived or even the waiters are in proper dresses. This is my plight. My friends have been teasing me about reaching earlier than the scheduled time for ages. But the event that pushed me to blog about this curse is the realization that dawned on me in the past two days. The effect state borders have.
For the last two days I have had to go to Gurgaon for some work. Unfamiliar with the place I had called up friends and asked for directions, best route to take, and the estimated time that these frequent travelers would know it takes to reach Gurgaon which is practically another city for someone like me living in Central Delhi. The wise souls left no stone unturned to scare the hell out of me and telling me to move out of my house atleast 2 n ½ hours before the scheduled meeting time. I took the five minute margin into consideration as usual. Just as my luck would have it, the traffic to Gurgaon was not only smooth it was unfashionably fast to the point that the DTC bus commuted me to Gurgaon in 25 minutes flat. The cycle rikshaw driver who I had instructed to go at the slowest speed humanly possible was in a mood to pay no heed to me and compete with the British Airways jet flying overhead. So he managed to cover the distance in 10 minutes flat. Adding the total time of walking upto the bus-stop and then signing in the visitor’s book came to a grand total of one hour. Hola!!! I was 1 and ½ hours earlier for an appointment. A record for me as well!
When asked by my dear friend Gurneet as to what in my opinion was the reason for this extra-ordinary phenomenon I candidly replied, “Crossing the state border between Delhi and Haryana has an enhancing effect of my punctuality curse.”