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Life’s lesson: think with equanimity while under stress, and do not act in a hurry
Let me share an experience we had recently as a family, that taught us not only how to think rationally and with equanimity while under stress but also how not to act in a hurry when faced by a seeming crisis.
We had gone to my in-laws’ place in Hyderabad during the Dasara holidays. Two suitcases with clothes, a Kindle reader, and the customary work laptop were in tow. The laptop connected to the Internet annihilates distances and lets you go wherever you have to go without actually remaining on leave of absence. This is a boon and a bane — boon as it lets my husband go to Hyderabad, and bane because it makes him work even during what would otherwise have been a vacation. Anyway, we enjoyed a whole week with pujas, feasts and family reunions.
For our return journey, we were dropped at the Kacheguda railway station to head back to Bengaluru. As we had reached the station a tad early, we settled down with our luggage on a bench on the platform. When the train came we moved the luggage to our seats.
I always look forward to train journeys so that I can read books uninterruptedly. I started a book, so did my husband. Sitting in the opposite seats was an elderly Tamil couple, a ‘mama’ and ‘mami’, chatting away first on the phone and then between themselves. On the side seat was a couple waiting for the Travelling Ticket Examiner to allot them berths.
An hour and some 40 pages later, my husband’s phone rang — and this one I’m not going to forget anytime soon. I could hear my husband’s side of the conversation and see his expressions. His expression was turning quizzical, and he said, we are in the train headed to Bangalore, and yes, the luggage is all with us. No, no piece is left behind. Laptop? That too… no, wait. The laptop is not here. Oh! I left the laptop bag on the platform where we were sitting. The bag contains — a ‘Dell’ laptop, charger …
So, that was how we found out that we had left the laptop bag back in Kacheguda. And fortunately for us, it was found by a Railway Police Force constable, who initially saw it as a suspicious bag lying around. After handling it with due care, the RPF found the laptop and other sundry items. Importantly, they found the business cards and my husband’s phone number, and called us. The bag had our house keys, cell phone chargers, and other things as well.
So, we had a situation to deal with. If we go ahead to Bengaluru, can we live without the laptop for a week? My husband thought yes, he could get another one and manage. But, the house keys? Looked like it was back to Kacheguda to get the house keys.
We first thought of getting down at the next station to take a cab to Kacheguda. We moved our luggage to the cabin door. Our co-passengers who saw this sudden turn of events sought to know whatever was happening. Suddenly everybody around us started talking to us and wished us well. The couple without berths started enquiring if we were really going off and if they can have our berths. My husband, who usually keeps calm during tricky situations, started working on solutions. I suddenly remembered where I had kept the other keys to our apartment.
My husband called his tennis buddy and explained the situation. The friend, with the help of the maintenance people of our complex, managed to open the locked door of our balcony with some effort and took out the duplicate keys, to keep them ready for us.
We informed our in-laws about the turn of events. My brother-in-law agreed to collect the laptop bag from the railway station security office. So the panicky situation of getting down somewhere mid-journey in the middle of the night was avoided. The Tamil ‘mama’ and ‘mami’ sitting across, started advising us and talked about similar experiences in their own lives. The other couple was happy for us but at the same time disappointed as they were waiting for the berths.
The laptop bag was collected by my husband’s brother the next day with all the contents intact, after producing an identity proof.
Yes, miracles do happen in our country, which reinforces our faith in humanity. We personally thanked the railway authorities. Experiences like this teach us to be a lot more careful in our lives. After this incident, each time we would make it a point to count the pieces of luggage. We also handed over one set of our house keys to our neighbours. We have the habit of taking things for granted until we face such situations.