Well! Well! Well! How to tell the story of a confused soul! In this case, the confused soul under the arch light is none other than yours truly. Of course, not confused in thought or spirit! But absolutely muddled when it comes to directions! As I write this post, I find it difficult to coherently explain the problem. So let me put it very simply. You see, I get confused with directions. For example, it takes me a very long time to understand routes, roads, points of turning (and not turning as well), etc.; in short all those pointers, instruments of instructions connected to reaching a destination. Mind you that destination can be my own residence too! Yes, I blush as I confess that I often forget my way home. A few weeks back, on a Sunday evening I lost my way completely (in fact I was quite close to my house) and went on revolving in concentric circles till I realized the futility of the whole exercise and finally gave up. I hailed a rickshaw passing by and reached home safely aided by the rickshaw-wallahs route-sense. I will not be annoyed one bit if you come to this hasty conclusion that the illiterate rickshaw puller is more sensible when it comes to directions than me. Another instance, I was prettily perched in a rickshaw and conveniently forgot my way home. I ejaculated in panic “Arre! Mera ghar toh yaheen tha pataa nahin kahaan chala gaya!” Don’t ask me to describe the expression on the face of the hapless rickshaw puller.
I remember, as a child, my mother would often engage me to run errands or buy tid-bits from the shop in the corner of the gully. I was a shy child. Therefore, not only would I rehearse under my breath how to ask for the listed things of the shopkeeper but also how to reach the shop (though the shop was there at the same spot for donkey years). At that point of time, I was not conscious of the fact or rather problem and never thought about the whys and the hows of my predicament. Now on hindsight I do and as I do I get more and more confused.
Every situation has got its advantages and disadvantages. The only advantage of this situation is the free entertainment that I often provide to my family members – a chance to have a good laugh at my expense. It is a standing joke in the family that the person whom I provide the directions to a pre-decided spot or even my own house, will be very fortunate to reach there in one piece. My cousin who was meeting us after a period of almost 25 years asked me the direction to my flat. I gave a graphic one since I take it for granted that everyone is as dumb and unsure of roads and routes as I am. Till he arrived, my family was in grave doubt whether the poor soul was lost in the wilderness or not, whether he would be able to ultimately figure out the right block/area/building or not, so on and so forth.
A few months back, I had to purchase some medicines, urgently required, from a Chemist’s shop nearby. My sister and nephew accompanied me to the store. It was way past evening. Though the shop is situated in the market place yet it usually is quite dark around, the street light invariably not burning and the shop being shaded by an ancient peepal tree. I have a silver grey Wagon R which is quite a common colour in so far as Wagon Rs are concerned. My sister and nephew waited in the car as I walked out to purchase the medicines. When I returned I saw the car parked daintily under the tree. I opened the door and sat next to the driver’s seat confidently. As I turned towards the driving seat to relate something to my nephew, a stranger stared back at me with astonishment writ all over his face. I hastily mumbled a sorry and hopped out of the car almost blindly. Even till now I can’t fathom how on earth I got into the wrong vehicle though as per my memory my car was also parked at the same spot, under the tree, when I had left it. When I got back to my car I found my nephew and sister in splits as they had witnessed my blunder from afar and was just about to alight to pull me out of the wrong one when I realized the mistake on my own. My sister attributed the mishap to night blindness, I to a fuzzed mind. Often when I walk on road with my family members they hold my hand tight so that I do not slip into the wrong street or gully.
The flipside of the situation is that I am inevitably dependent upon others to take me wherever I want to go. I cannot drive because of various reasons, one of them being this. While I travel alone by autos etc., I am always fearful of the fact that I may be taken for a ride anytime if the driver gets an inkling of my fudged road sense. Consequently, I pretend smartness sticking to a particular well rehearsed route. But every armour has a chink. Once, while giving directions to an auto driver, I got mixed up with the right and left turns. He stopped the vehicle midway commenting sarcastically “Memsaab pehle aap apna daayan baayan to theek karlo”.
In the beginning, commuting to and fro office was also stressful as my office is 27 Kms (one way) away from my home. But now I have mugged up the route. Metro is quite a help but again the underground or basement is problematic zone for me where my wavering confidence (read sense of direction) constantly takes u-turns. But for the blinking signages on which I am completely dependent, otherwise I think my name will be permanently on the missing persons’ list. That brings me to another issue. On road my simple mantra of maneuvering my bulky self is learning by rote a few landmarks like hoarding, bill boards, posters etc. God forbid if these are removed one fine morning! I need not imagine further what will happen to me. One of my well wishers, in his characteristic jeering way, had once advised me to keep a packet of chalk dust in my pocket/purse so that I can mark my own trail to and fro any destination including office.
I can see the smirk on your faces as you all read this post. But this is one hundred and twenty five percent true and genuine problem. I am sure there must be a bombastic terminology too, hidden in one of the medical tomes, for this phobia, mania or whatever it is, stemming most probably from a manufacturing defect (?) , a chromosomal disorder, a DNA string going haywire – in brief a genetic “locha” to be precise, if I am not mistaken again.