Seeing that 3 of us, a friend, my daughter and I , were kind of squeezed, carrying assorted bags, into the ricksha, sweating in the searingly hot, 40 degrees, super humid mid-day sun, shining with sweaty faces, you would be absolutely correct if you surmised that none of us were going for a job interview at any IT company.
Hiring a ricksha in Mumbai, has to be done with a certain bit of cunning finesse. The drivers often refuse to ply to the place you indicate, and the thing to do is to name the nearest well known landmark like a theatre or a mall, where the driver can get another customer easily.
Having safely established ourselves in the three wheeler, the driver was a bit surprised to find that we needed to go a bit further, and then some , over railway lines and stuff. We spied the building we wanted and pointed to a left turn. Our driver, who was itching for revenge, simply continued straight, saying there was a No Entry sign. Which was itself strange because nothing stops a Mumbai ricksha from entering through a No Entry street. Since any more arguments would have us entering the highway, we immediately disembarked, indicated our displeasure to the guy, and left, making our way, in a light breeze, down an incline to the offices we had to visit.
A nice office building, a huge amount of swishy cars parked there, a few making fancy turns into the compound, and the two uniformed security men at the gate enquired where we wanted to go.
"BlogAdda ", Me, confidently.
The two watchmen, looked at us, 2 behenji type middle/old aged women, and a young girl in a kurta a trifle short than it should be (as per their native standards), wondering if we had the wrong building.
We didn't look the type who were, say, on backslapping terms with Addas per se, and besides, they said, there was no such office there with such a name. Just when he was debating the merits of asking us to leave or throwing us out, I whipped out my phone, and called the number I had been given. The security chaps decided we were OK and urged us to stand in the shade as we waited for someone to come and meet us.
To make a long story short we were at Blogadda offices , where they had received the book by Anil Kumble which I won in their contest. The parent company goes by a more IT sounding name, which the security guys knew and we didn't.
We were escorted up to the Blogadda offices by Harish, who very kindly came down to meet us.
A beautifully appointed office, with a compact visitors cum meeting room. Cool water suddenly appeared , and thirst quenched, we looked around to gape open mouthed at my name showing up on the vertical blinds of the window! There was a huge fantastic Suchitra Krishnamurthi painting across the breadth of the room, and it provided a wonderful backdrop to what was to follow.
When was the last time, the owner of a company, followed by all his staff, came out and into the room to meet you ? When was the last time, someone appeared as thrilled to give you something, as you were to receive it ? When was the last time you had one real photographer and 2 cellphone-photographers, clicking your pictures, as you did mundane things like open boxes, investigate fancy packing and remove cello tape ?
And when was the last time, you sunk under the weight of a prize book ? And when was the last time you spied a card with your name printed in it, with compliments in blue ink, from Anil Kumble ? And when was the last time, you opened a wonderful book, autographed for you, by the author, Anil Kumble on one of the front pages ? And when was the last time, you looked through a book, gifted to you, an unbelieving grin on your face, excitement rife amongst everyone around you, the Blogadda folks crowding around, everyone feeling happy for you, and chilled glasses of Mangola suddenly appearing ......
And finally, when was the last time you entered a blog contest, and much before the last date , the first comment on your post asked you to display the picture of the Anil Kumble Book because the person was sure you would win ?
And when was the last time , so many of your co-contestants, much before the results, expressed a hunch, in your comments section, that they thought you would win , and that they would be quite happy about it ?
This has truly been a very lucky and magical period. Mothers Day just happened, and I penned something for that too; it rated a winning mention. I have been very fortunate to have the sort of blog friends that I do....
A heartfelt thank you to my friends, and for the folks at Blogadda, this :
Edited to add : I can't show the book page by page here, but watch a wonderful preview of the book here....!