I get into the lift and press the ‘0’ button four times with my elbow, willing it to go faster than usual. Realising it is not going to happen, I juggle my phone, glasses, earrings and slippers until the former two are in my bag and the slippers land on the floor as I fasten my earrings on. As an experienced late lateef, I know I have exactly 60 seconds before I reach the ground floor. By the time my earrings are done, my right foot has slipped into my slippers and as the left foot goes in, I fish for my lip gloss and deodorant. 30 seconds to go. I spray on some deo with my left hand and apply some gloss with my right. I do a quick check in my bag to ensure I have everything I need, give myself a once over to ensure my clothes and hair are done and turn around as the lift touches the ground floor. I rush outside through my shortcut, dodging the maid and the istriwala who are having an animated conversation in a language I do not understand. Well, I know which language it is. It is hard to live in Mangalore and not recognise Tulu. Actually, it is impossible. Because Tulu is to Mangalore what English is to England. And, uh, I do not understand Tulu. No, I haven’t come to this town recently. In fact I was born and brought up here and though Tulu is not my mother tongue, my community has been living here only for about 400 years. So I am looked down at, yelled at and glared at, at least a few times a month for not knowing Tulu.
Oh wait! I was in a hurry to get somewhere right? You probably want to know if I made it on time. So I ran to the rickshaw stand and jumped in, yelling ‘Aloysius, Lighthouse Hill Road!’ But the rickshaw drivers were used to this by now and so he had already started the rickshaw by the time I got in.
As I rushed through the nonexistent traffic (it’s Mangalore, you can reach anywhere in under 20 minutes – hence the habit of leaving late) I took out my phone to check the time: 08:57 am. College began at 09:00 am. Thankfully our Vice Principal this year was a very religious man who insisted on having a prayer every morning, which through my vast experience I knew would last exactly 2 minutes. As we neared my college I took out the exact change which, come on, if I didn’t know would just be an insult to me at this point. I looked at my phone again – 09:01 am. I jumped out of the rickshaw, gave him the money and yelled ‘Thank you!’ as I ran in. I reached the building just as prayer ended and was at my classroom door exactly 10 seconds later. As my lecturer grudgingly let me in, I ran to my spot and sat there, panting. It is so sad that no one around me could appreciate the beauty of my planning so that I can get in at exactly the right time every day. I gave myself a mental hi5 as my classmates continued to exist in oblivion.