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This story does not involve a river. However, it involves a bank.
I know it is not a good idea to start a story with a terrible pun. Cool bloggers do not do that. They start their stories with awesome puns.
To make up for the coolness coefficient, let me provide a disclaimer: the story mentioned here is entirely true, and has resemblances with multiple real-life characters.
This story dates back from 2009 or thereabouts (it could have been 2008 as well, but probably not 2010) — an era when I owned a cellphone whose battery lasted for more than fifteen minutes, Ayesha Takia was an active actress, and Mamata Banerjee was yet to be appointed Chief Minister.
In other words, life was still good.
It was a summer morning. I had run through my usual chores of an unhealthy breakfast rich in cholesterol, a bath that had probably involved a soap (I am more or less sure about this), said “no” to a lady who enquired whether I was interested in a personal loan from Bank X (name withheld), and read Luann on The Telegraph.
All in all, it was a perfectly normal morning.
Then I managed to pull off the impossible: I acquired a taxi in Kolkata. Rumours are that this particular activity is about to replace opening Flipkart packages as the most excruciating one for an Indian, so it was a remarkable achievement.
All in all, it was a perfectly normal morning that I managed to take to the next level.
Then my cellphone trilled — the one that retained charge for more than fifteen minutes. I responded.
“Am I speaking to Mr Abhishek Mukherjee?” The voice sounded oddly familiar.
“Sir, I am talking on behalf of Bank X.”
I instantly knew who it was.
“Didn’t you call me about twenty minutes back?”
“Yes, Sir, I am extremely sorry that I have called you again.”
“But I told you...”
“It is not about the loan, Sir. I wanted to ask you something personal.”
“Sir, can I ask you something?”
No, she could not have fallen for my rich baritone — at least, not this easily. She definitely knows something else about me. What could it be?
“What is this about?”
“Have you ever been to Indian Idol?”
What was that I told you about a perfectly normal morning?
I will digress here a bit. I took the first season of Indian Idol very seriously. Sa Re Ga Ma (without the Pa) was different. Though the standard of Sa Re Ga Ma was generally superior to that of Indian Idol, it did not involve the audience. You could not send text messages to vote in Sa Re Ga Ma.
Indian Idol had me hooked on, and I still remember random names like Ravindra Ravi, Rahul Vaidya, Prajakta Shukre, Amit Sana, and, of course, Abhijit Sawant. After the first season, unfortunately, I lost interest.
“What? Oh, no, no, I have never been to Indian Idol.”
“Are you sure, Sir?”
“What do you mean?”
“Sir, I went to the Indian Idol auditions this year. I met someone called Abhishek Mukherjee there. We became really close, but I have somehow lost his phone number. He does not call me, either.”
Poor girl. When would she learn the ways of the world?
“I am sorry, but I am not the same Abhishek Mukherjee. I have never been to any Indian Idol audition.”
“Are you sure, Sir?”
“I mean, I am sorry to bother you with all this. Please do not tell the authorities at Bank X. Please.”
“That is okay. I won’t.”
Thus went my otherwise perfectly normal morning, basked in the futile glory of being the namesake of an aspiring Indian Idol participant missed by a female employee of Bank X (or of a call centre with whom Bank X has a contract).
Obviously, I checked for Abhishek Mukherjee, but no one of that name had qualified for that year’s (or, for that matter, any year’s) Indian Idol. On the other hand, an Abhishek Mukherjee had indeed made it to Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar,2010. This was as close as I have made it to a reality show.
Dear woman who had called me on behalf of Bank X over half a decade back: did you find out whether it was the same person?