So January vanished in a haze. I returned to mad tight deadlines and an asshole author, and then was off to Jaipur for the oh so famous Jaipur Literary Festival. (Yes, that doesn’t link to the jlf site, surely you can Google that gentle reader.) The fest itself was madness, but it began with an unprecedented level of drama.

The cab picking up my colleagues and then FC and I from his house was late. FC took a little longer than expected to depart the house. The cabbie took us to Ajmeri gate, which is only about ten minutes of hard running across over-bridges to the Pahadganj side where he train leaves from. Laden with packages we trotted away in the icy morning. I even had to take my laptop, because I needed to edit some stuff and the train was the best place to do it. (Since I am not one of those INSANE people, like Tiny Colleague and FC, who believe that if you have to wake up early you should try and not sleep all night, thus ending with you crashing for 45 minutes and being miserable and bleary all day.)

We galloped into the carriage with about eight minutes to spare, and began to put our belongings down. At this point I noticed I didn’t have my laptop. I looked everywhere. We called the cabbie. No sign of it. It must be at the X-Ray machine where we came in, we deduced. Okay, I said, let me go and find the TT and see what can be done.

I began the long walk through the carriages to the First Class carriage where the TTs hang out before departure. In a couple of minutes I noticed that one of my colleagues, whom i shall henceforth call White Knight Colleague, had taken it upon himself to follow me. We inched our way through the whole damn train (in hindsight, if we had walked along the outside it might have worked), and eventually got to the TTs. I left my laptop at the scanner I said. Okay, said the TT, here is a man from the Railway Protection Force, talk to him. This man, this angel in the guise of Rajbir Singh, radioed all stations and received the intelligence that there was indeed and unclaimed laptop bag at a scanner.

What colour is it, he asked me.
It’s khaki, I said, pointing to his uniform. And if you open it, it has a blue laptop, and four books, two of which are orange and while, and a pair of orange chappals.
Having satisfied himself that it was indeed my laptop, he said okay, go get it.
That’s where the problem came up–we were about three minutes from departure at this point.
I would, I said, but it’ll take too long–the train will leave! Is there any way you can have someone bring it?
He nodded thoughtfully and told them, look she’ll miss the train ebcause it’ll take twice the time to come and go, so send someone with it.

The TT then asked the guard to pull out slowly, and told us to stand in the door of the last coach. WKC and I stood there, with him being a nice calm solid rock of common sense and crisis management, thereby keeping me a nice calm solid rock of common sense and crisis management as well. The train began to pull out. We waited breathless for the DDLJ moment of reunion. There was no sign of an RPF guy running towards us.

Other colleagues called, wondering why we hadn’t returned, and if we’d missed the train. WKC fielded calls.

The TT then came up to us and said, oh dear, I guess he didn’t make it in time. Give me your number, and I’ll find out what you can do to recover it, and call you. WKC then produced his card (since mine were with my handbag at my seat, under the eagle eye of FC), on which we wrote both our numbers. We inched our way backs to our seats and sat back to wait.

A few hours later, the TT came to me and said, okay, this is Rajbir Singh’s number. Call him, You can either collect it from the RPF depot at New Delhi on your return, or maybe ask him if he can send it with tomorrow’s TT.. And this is my number.

So I called Rajbir Singh, who kindly agreed to send it with the First Class attendant on the next day’s train. He also asked me to call him at 530, just to make sure he didn’t forget. A short while alter the TT called me, to see if it had been sorted out.

The next morning, I woke up at 530 and called Rajbir Singh, who said that yes, he would go and do it, but it would take him a while since he wasn’t posted on the same platform. He then called me back in ten minutes, to confirm that he had dropped it off, and to give me the attendant’s name and phone number. I called the attendant and met up with him to pick up the laptop. Then I called RS again, and he said ah good you called me, I was just going to call you; I was beginning to worry. (The train was an hour late.) Then I called the TT as well, and thank him profusely for his help.

Don’t nobody diss the Indian Railways around me, is all I’m saying.

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