An evening’s adventure.

Yesterday, thanks to some brilliant orchestration on my part, I managed to get locked out of my apartment. It all started in the morning (as so many nasty experiences often do, for me). It’s been a few months since we moved to our new apartment. Perhaps, it is time to stop calling it the ‘new’ apartment. But I digress… The reason I bring this up is because something like last evening would have never happened were we still living in the old apartment…

Now play close attention, because things are complicated, and to truly appreciate the extent of my brilliant planning and execution, it is vital to understand the layout of my apartment. There are two ways to enter my apartment – through the main door, and through the garage. If the fancy takes you, as it often does me, you may also exit through these very same doors.

I’m usually quite bad at drawing maps, giving directions and the like. Here’s my attempt at listing the complicated sequence of events that precipitated in the heinous crime, er, I mean my getting locked out. Feel free to ask questions. I won’t hear you, and you won’t bother me at all.

We will begin with the evidence.

Exhibit A: The Main Door: The main door has two bolts – the upper bolt, and the lower bolt. Only the lower bolt may be opened from outside the apartment. (not outside the apartment complex, say, remotely from Timbuktu, but by standing on the other side of the door and using a key. Remote opening of apartment doors from Timbuktu is technology one will simply have to wait for). The upper bolt (also called the ‘privacy bolt’ by the apartment management, possibly with the aim of gouging a few dollars more in the name of ‘additional safety features’) cannot be accessed with the key. It is no doubt meant for scared home makers who wish to make their home in as secure an environment as possible.

Exhibits B1 and B2: The Door to the Garage (B1) and The Garage Door (B2): The Door to the Garage is not bedecked with a multitude of bolts. But lest there be sibling rivalry between the two exits, the benevolent apartment builder has provided the garage with its own charms. Et voila, we meet the remote operated Garage Door. Now, if you find your attention wandering, take a deep breath, and focus! The Door to the Garage is different from the Garage door. The former connects the living room with the garage, while the latter connects the garage with the outside world. And just in case you were curious, the Garage Door, while remote operated may not be opened from Timbuktu either. Most days, it doesn’t open (or close) when you work the remote from 2 feet away. Success is usually achieved by banging the remote against your palm or the car (or any other handy object) two to five times in rapid succession, giving the thing a good jiggle or two, mouthing a few choice swear words and trying again. (Swearing doesn’t actually do anything to the door, but my roomie & I find it has a somewhat calming effect on the nerves. So it’s just for you, not the Garage Door.)

Yesterday morning, just as I was about to step out the Door to the Garage (Exhibit B1), I was overcome with the sudden and pressing urge to bolt the upper bolt to the main door (Exhibit A). With a life-long history of succumbing to sudden and pressing urges, I decided that yesterday morning (an early one, as we had to reach office by 7:30 AM for a conference call) was not the best time to take a stand and resist temptation. I yielded, and bolted the door, using both bolts. We left through the Door to the Garage (Exhibit B1), closed the Garage Door (Exhibit B2). The apartment is now as safe as a house.

Fast forward 12 hours to the evening. Roomie wanted to attend a Microsoft conference. So I get a ride back home with the boss. Boss drives off. I reach Main Door (Exhibit A). Even as I reached for my key, the door momentarily turns into a screen, and in slow motion, I watch a movie of a younger me (well, it was 12 hours ago) bolt the upper and lower bolts and turning away towards the garage. The movie played to the very apt background score of yours truly screaming silently to myself.

You give up too easily, you say. You should simply go through the garage, you say. Sure. I would have done just that, had I had the foresight to get the remote to open the Garage Door from the roomie. Prescience is always in short supply & I’d already used up my quota for the day when I double bolted the Main Door.

I had two options – call boss and go with him & spend the evening at his home, and wait for the roomie to get back from conference. Or go to the mall, hang around, and wait for the roomie to get back from the conference. Let me rephrase that. I had one option. Go to the Mall.

So to the Mall I went. Spent a few hours walking around. Foraged the deep discount racks at Foley’s, looking for that $5 Ralph Lauren sweater that has magically skipped the notice of the hordes that frequent the mall. As always I did not find it. Next time, I say. Somehow, am the eternal optimist when it comes to Ralph Lauren. Someday, I will no doubt be able to afford him. Went around to Bath & Body Works – smelled their pots of creams and lotions. Why is it important to have your Body Cream Whipped? In the interest of scientific inquiry, I bought a jar. If I suddenly turn into Nicole Kidman, I’ll know why.

At the end of what felt like hours (hold on, it was hours) of walking around in what were easily the most uncomfortable shoes on God’s earth, I spotted Walden Books. Praise be, I told myself. I’d promised to myself that I shan’t buy any more books this year. (Us book-types do that frequently, just to pass the time – no reader I know ever keeps such promises). But here I felt was a golden opportunity to bypass guilt. I hadn’t specifically set out to buy books. After all, fate put me in that mall. That only meant one thing – the Powers that be wanted me to buy books.

So I enter the store. I check out their new arrivals section. And start feeling uneasy at once. They had paper-back copies of Guns, Germs & Steel and The Time Traveler’s Wife – under NEW ARRIVALS! That should’ve warned me. But the eternal optimist I am, I walk up to the counter and start a conversation with the High School kid they’ve entrusted the store to.

Me: “Do you have Two Lives by Vikram Seth?”

Kid: “Hold on, let me check my computer. What was the name again?”

Me: “S-E-T-H. Vikram Seth. V-I-K-R-A-M.”

Kid: “Hmm, I’ve never heard of that name.”

Sound of my heart breaking into a million pieces, accompanied by the shattering of the Sphygmomanometer, as my blood pressure shoots way up, as it does in cartoons. (It was a curious sensation, and one I should have documented better for the scientists. Hypertension accompanied by a breaking heart – a feat that should be technically impossible, but there I was, experiencing it.)

Kid: “We don’t have Two Lives. But I do see two other books – A Suitable Boy and Three Chinese Poets.’

Me, breathing again: “Where do I find Three Chinese Poets?”

Kid: “Oh, we don’t actually have either of the books. Sorry.”

Me: “Oh. OK.”

So, nursing a broken heart and 23 blisters on my feet, I trudged back home, feeling as whipped as my jar of Body Cream. And I still had at least an hour to go. I limped over to the hot tub, rolled up my pants, and soaked my aching feet into luke warm water (why they insist on calling the damn thing “hot” tub, I’ll never know), flipped open my cell phone & called up a couple of friends to share my woeful tale and pass the time. Roomie eventually arrived, sounded me off for my folly, and I gratefully slinked into my room & my bed.

Still the day was not a complete waste. Many valuable lessons were learned:

– You may feel you have the keys to unlock the mysteries of the world, but pal, life is incomplete without the garage opener.

– Just like there is daylight savings time, there are bookstore employees in this world who have not heard of Vikram Seth. That their presence goes against everything that good and honest and true and natural does not preclude their existence.

– It’s OK to forget the Garage Opener, as long as you have your credit card with you, and a mall across the road.

– And oh, wear comfortable shoes. Always.


5 comments so far

  1. The soliloquist on

    This reminds me of my days as a latch key kid… The only difference was that I had locked myself in, and wasnt locked out..
    Just as my parents left for work, humming a tune from the latest flick, i tossed the keys and plop they went into the dust-bin and followed my maid promptly to the garbage van.. and fate had it that i was unaware of this cosmic conspiracy… Had the time of my life, when i realised this.. The aftermath of my parents getting wind of this is a seperate story… A memory i long to forget.. 🙂
    Atleast you had the mall… thank God for that !!

  2. DoZ on

    Yeah, the mall is one thing I’m grateful for…Were I in my old apartment, I’d have had to go to the gym or something! Talk about torture.

  3. The soliloquist on

    Why do they even have locks and keys??? The price we pay for our material possesions…

  4. DoZ on

    Not sure which is worse – keys or numbers that you must remember to punch in in order to enter or exit… Some of the gates in my apartment community have these number devices, and I think i can safely say that I’ll forget them if I ever HAD to remember them… I get by because the numbers for ALL the gates are the same… but I occasionally have problems, because I punch in the numbers for my old apartment into these locks… I think it may be best if I move to an old age home & allow myself to be pushed to & fro on a wheel chair by a younger, more “with it” person…

  5. The soliloquist on

    Hmmm, yeah.. Advances in technology that make life simpler actually complicate things… Sometimes wish i could jump into the tube and live with the Flintstones..

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