Best laid plans

Best laid plans

When I decided to visit my son and his family in New Jersey for the Christmas holidays, I booked the train ticket for 10 days to include two other long overdue visits: one to see my cousin’s daughter Vidya in Piscataway, and the second to see
my former student’s daughter Sreekala in South Brunswick. Besides enjoying with my son’s family and the four grandkids, I wanted the vacation to be complete in every way.

All went according to plan. The three-day visit to Vidya’s was complete with two Sathyanarayana pujas at her friends’ houses, and a stroll down Little India on Oak Street followed by a luncheon at a Guajarati restaurant.

When it was time to leave and my son came to pick me up, the goodbyes were warm and upbeat. When I came home, I found my cell phone missing. A flustered conversation with Vidya confirmed that I had left it behind on the kitchen table at her place.

“We will pick it up tomorrow,” my son said, not too happy about having to go back and forth all over again. “However,” he added trying to salvage the situation, “You said you wanted to see another friend, your student’s daughter who lives in South Brunswick. That is on the way and we can finish that visit tomorrow if you like.” I accepted his offer eagerly and thanked him.

When I called Sreekala to inform her of the plan, she enthusiastically suggested that we should have lunch with her; could we make it at 12:30? Of course, we could!

Next morning, we drove for 50 minutes to Piscataway and picked up my cellphone. In another 30 minutes we were at Sreekala’s in South Brunswick. We met her husband and two sons who were home from college and enjoyed a sumptuous lunch together. We joked about my forgetfulness, unanimously agreeing that it was a simple error committed often by most people. It was time to leave and we went through another round of warm goodbyes. This time, I made doubly sure to put the cell phone safely in my pocketbook.

No sooner had we returned home and sat down on the couch than the landphone rang. It was Sreekala and she began right away. “I can’t find my cell phone and I wanted to see if by mistake you….”

“Let me check, wait one minute,” I said and went to search in my pocket book. A quick rummage cleared the doubt. “Sreekala, it is here,” I said. My son who was reading the newspaper lowered it and was now staring at me in disbelief. Avoiding his look, I asked slowly, “Do you want us to bring it to you right away...?”

“Oh, no. That won’t be necessary. We will come and pick it up,” assured Sreekala. I breathed a sigh of relief and placed her phone on a table closest to the door to make sure that I would at least hand her the right phone this time!