“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

I do not know what was going through William Shakespeare’s mind when he penned these words in the play ‘As You Like It’. But I can sure as hell say that sharing a ride with strangers make these timeless words a reality. During the ride… the cab; train; bus; airplane; etc metamorphose into a stage and my fellow travellers become the actors… ready to present to me unmatched entertainment.

Here are some classic experiences which have left me wanting for more.

The day started more hectic than usual. My Yoga teacher was so engrossed in teaching some nuances, which I failed to grasp, that he delayed the closure of the class by a more than a few minutes. I had to rush thereafter to make up for the lost time. I chose to travel by cab since I knew I had missed my office bus. To save money I chose to share a ride on one of the world famous cab aggregators. I still cannot imagine how the so called Unicorns measure success by the millions of dollars they lose every quarter. Anyways… coming back to the story, the cab arrived. My preferred seat, the one next to the driver, was taken. I had to settle into one of the rear seats. It was a good 45 minute ride to office. As always I got busy with music and reading.

A few minutes into the ride, the driver got a notification from another passenger who wanted to share the ride in the same cab. And so he set off to the pickup location showing up on his smartphone. Upon reaching the location and one look at the person was enough to shut my mind off for a few seconds. My jaws dropped and I could not help scratching at the three-day-old stubble on my chin. Here was a lady who had dressed herself in salwar kameez. She had covered her face completely with some kind of a scarf; was wearing a pair of gloves and was sporting some cool shades to cover her eyes. The only seat in the cab was the empty one next to me. As she got into the cab, I could not help notice that she had covered her feet as well with a pair of socks! Ohh my Jawdddddd….. she had done everything in her capacity to ensure that she is fully covered! I was travelling with a live mummy sitting next to me now!!!

Considering the circumstances, I could not focus on the music or the reading. I naturally started wondering why anyone would travel like this. Being the pragmatist that I am, I started mentally jotting out the reasons. Was she so pretty that she did not want the cruel elements of nature to spoil it all? Or was she so repulsive that she was better off being fully covered? Or did she consider her chances of safety to be higher if she travelled like this? If this were true, did she suspect every man in this world… including me? Aarrggghhh I feel so ashamed. Or was this really a lady? Whatever maybe the reason, who could have given her this sort of an advice? Was it herself or was it her friends or was it her parents? Ahh… why am I assuming that she is single… maybe an over protective husband or boyfriend could have induced her into this. This reminded me off Imhotep and his Anck-su-Namun from the movie “The Mummy”. After a few stealthy glances I gave up… I could not decipher anything beyond that fabric.

The guy next to the driver was dropped off. So it was just the driver and me along with this Mummy. Somewhere during the journey I went into a deep slumber. During my sleep I heard a voice asking “Where do you get down?” I was hallucinating in broad daylight. But no, I heard the same voice asking the same question again. I woke up and realized that it was the Mummy next to me asking this. The origin of the sound was somewhere behind her covered face… from an area which approximated the location of her mouth. Ohh… she could speak after all… and that to with strangers. I answered “Eco Space” looking at her shades since that is the only eye contact that I could make. Out of pure instinct I asked her the same question. To which she reply “After your stop”. WTF! What kind of an answer was that? After my stop could even mean Kathmandu! Did she really think I was keen to know where she is going? Damn! And to make matters worse, I realized that she was speaking into the phone and giving all these details… maybe to her guardian angel. Perhaps someone on the other end of the line was telling her “Beware of this guy… don’t give into any more conversations… the world is full of such filthy guys who want to know where you go

Thankfully it was not long before I reached my destination. I paid the driver, quickly got out of the cab and felt more relieved to be amongst humans and uncovered faces. I did not dare look at the cab as it passed me. The world is full of such weird characters… perhaps this is what the Mummy also thought about me!