• Pragya Pai

D-184, Fifth Avenue

“You have arrived at your destination,” announced the GPS of my car.


Anu, Raghav and I were headed to a friend’s home who had newly moved into this

locality. Well, unless our friend lived in a banyan tree, the GPS was wrong.


“Are you sure you put in the right address?” Raghav asked from the backseat.

“D-184, Fifth Avenue,” I read. “The address is correct.”

“I saw D-170 somewhere,” said Anu. “Drive back and we’ll try locating the

house from there.”


We exited the street the same way we had come. Circling a park, we tried to

locate the house Anu had seen.

“It’s B-170, not D-170,” Raghav stated the obvious. Anu had misread the

name plate.

“Call Vanya and ask her to give us the directions,” I proposed. But, just our

luck, she didn’t pick up the phone.


“Bhaiya,” Anu called out to a fruit-seller nearby. “Which way is D-184?”

The man waved his hand airily towards a road on our right and grunted. I

thanked him and turned the car around.

We carefully eyed the name plates outside each house. D-128, D-129, D130…. We turned to the left. D-133…. D-139, D-140, G-61.

“What the hell?” sweared Raghav. “How did it go from D to G?”

I looked around at the empty street as Anu and Raghav bickered over the

system of nomenclature of houses.

“The guard will know,” I pointed out. In the distance, I could see the blue

uniform of a house guard pacing on the side of the street.


As we neared him, another guard came into view, sitting on an old plastic

chair that looked as if it could fall apart any second.

“Can you direct us to D-184?” I asked.

The guards looked at each other, surveyed the three of us inside the car, then

looked at each other again. They seemed to have come to an agreement on

whether to help us or not without speaking, hopefully it would be in our favour.

We waited expectantly.

Thankfully, the standing guard had deemed us worthy and told usto take the

next right road.


“You’re wrong,” said the guard on the chair. “D-184 is on the left road, not

on the right.”

“It’s definitely on the right,” the first guard disagreed.


We waited for a minute as the two men discussed the geography of the

locality with each other. The guard standing turned to face us. He finally announced

the decision, “Right.” But it seemed the two still hadn’t come to an agreement–

behind his back, the other guard looked me in the eye and pointed towards the left.

I sheepishly muttered a thank you and started the car.


“What do I do?” I asked the others.

“Take the left, the old guard looks like he knows stuff,” said Anu.

Raghav sided with the first guard. “He looked confident when answering us

the first time.” As always, their opinions contrasted.


We were nearing a fork in the road. I had a decision to make- right or left.

Anu and Raghav looked ahead earnestly, waiting to see who I’d side with. In the

rear-view mirror, I could see the eyes of the two guards following our car.

Apparently, they wanted to see who I believed more. Being indecisive is terrifying

in moments like this. We were at the crossroads now. I didn’t wish to stop the car

in the middle. Unable to withstand the pressure of decision-making, I stepped on

the accelerator confidently. I could hear my friends’ exasperated sighs as I neither

turned towards the left nor to the right, I steered the car towards the road in the

centre.


“Good job, genius,” Anu said, rolling her eyes. “What do we do now?”

I didn’t reply. We drove on, once again looking at the name plates which had

now turned to Bs.


“Can you turn down the volume?” I asked. Raghav had been annoyingly

playing music.

“Why?”

“I need to see the road properly?”

“Sure. I’ll reduce the sound so you can see better.”

I didn’t appreciate the tone but atleast he shut the thing off. In a little while,

the silence started to get painful.


“Stop here,” Anu ordered.


We were next to a tea-stall where some men stood watching a cricket match,

a match we were supposed to be watching at Vanya’s house right now.

Anu rolled down the window and asked for directions.

“There is no D block here; the houses only go up to C,” one of the men

informed us.

Anu let out a frustrated sigh. “Does anyone know where we can find D-184,

Fifth Avenue?”

“Fifth Avenue, you say?” said the man. “You’re in the wrong place.”

“Evidently,” Anu muttered under her breath.

“This is Third Avenue,” explained the man. “Go back this road, take the third

right turn, you’ll see a fruit-seller next to a park. Take the left turn next to him.”


We thanked the man and I turned the car around once more. We headed

back the crossroads. The two guards we’d met earlier were still there. They

recognized us, one of them waved. Anu and Raghav had started bickering again,

not to my surprise. I heeded the tea-stall-person’s advice. We passed the fruit-seller

who had led us down the wrong road in the first place. I turned the final turn of the

directions and stopped the car.


“Well, I think we’ve reached a dead end,” Raghav commented.

Looking at the banyan tree in front of me, I had to agree. Anu tried to call

Vanya once more. Thankfully, she picked up this time.

“Why are you guys so late? The match has already started.”

“We can’t find your house!” Anu whined.

“What are you talking about? I can see you in the drive way.”

“Does she really live in this tree?” Raghav asked.

“No, but she does live in the house next to the tree.”


We sighed unanimously. All this work for nothing. I parked the car and we

entered D-184, Fifth Avenue.

*****

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