I came to office very late on a Monday. My train arrived at the scheduled time but still I ended up very late. Because my thoughts were still reflecting back to what happened on the train journey. I couldn’t concentrate much later, got pushed by passengers at the station and walked late into office. Blame it on Chetan Bhagat.
I was sitting on a window seat and my co-passenger was a middle-aged man. We were having biscuits and tea. I demanded an extra packet of Marie Gold from a railway crew member/attender. He looked up towards the roof of the compartment, inhaled a bit longer, then exhaled and shook his head in an ‘I-don’t-have-extra-biscuits-sorry’ manner.
It was then that I saw him. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I blinked and again narrowed my eyes to look at the passenger sitting three rows ahead of me to my right. Only the left side of his face was visible but that was more than enough. Incredible it may sound, but it was Chetan Bhagat!
Oh. My. God.
I couldn’t believe my luck. I have never seen any celebrities up that close in my life. Once I had seen Brett Lee inside a mall in Mumbai. I along with some other Cricket fans were not allowed to say even a simple hi, you look great to him. So much was the security. Next was watching Govinda dance in a posh area of Hiranandani in Mumbai. The whole perimeter of the shoot was being closely guarded by security guards. Mad crowd on roads and onlookers from terraces of buildings were kept at bay.
Meeting my favourite authors is a dream come true. Interviewing them and asking for their advice is always on top of my to-do list.
When I saw Chetan Bhagat, I couldn’t control my feelings. The author of Five Point Someone has managed to grip my attention with his simple style of writing. He has many critics and readers who never appreciate what he writes. Some say his books are a piece of trash. Some say they are works that can be used and thrown away like tissue papers in toilets. He has often many harsh criticisms for his views and columns.
Does he give a damn about all this? Nope. He rolls up his sleeves, adjusts his specs and just writes! Maybe it’s because of his simple English that everyone can understand, or maybe because he writes direct from his heart that attracts the youth of this generation, or maybe because he doesn’t think twice before putting his thoughts on paper or because he uses the ‘F’ word so often. Chetan Bhagat is a successful author today. His views get published in newspapers. Bollywood is running out of original scripts and adopting Bhagat’s novel into major motion pictures.
He was sitting with a lady. I thought it could be his wife. He was doing something on his smart phone but I couldn’t see what. Unintentionally, I leaned across too quickly and startled my co-passenger. He must have thought that I was about to give him an unexpected hug. Actually, all I wanted was a clear view of the author and I had stretched myself and already left my seat in excitement. I was wondering whether to approach him with a copy of his own novel for an autograph. Then I remembered with a pang in my heart. My personal copies of all his novels were back at home. So I thought to approach him with a pen to sign an autograph on my right hand. The thought itself made me feel silly. I was left with no choice but to ask for his photograph. I started immediately searching for my dabba phone. Meanwhile, Chetan Bhagat had started reading from Hindustan Times.
I got up from my seat and made my way towards him. My co-passenger showed his frustration by delaying my exit. He just didn’t want to get up from his seat but seeing the look on my face, he didn’t argue. He got up too and allowed me to pass. As I started walking hesitatingly towards one of my favourite authors, an unbelievable thought came in my mind. What’s happening to all of us these days? Not one of those passengers had recognized him. That was obvious. And wait! Do such famous people don’t need security? How come Chetan Bhagat just strolls into a Shatabdi and lazily sits around with normal people? And there are no stunning gasps and no claps for this famous author? This is so not done.
He got up. I came out of my reverie and became a statue. His back was all I can see. He looked so tall and well built. He didn’t look like that in one of the desktop wallpapers I had used. Wow, I was amazed. Google needs to update its images indeed.
He turned and faced me. The full impact of his personality hit me. I couldn’t move an inch. He came forward and uttered ‘Excuse me?”