Three years back I was going through the weird phase of my life. I was jobless, loveless, and aimless. A deadly combo for a 23 years old girl to survive. I had learned few lessons during that period. The most important thing life had taught me is that, nothing is permanent, neither your failures nor your success.
It was time for me to start from zero. I thought of going to UK for further studies. An international degree meant better job opportunities for me. In India, we discuss everything with our parents and proceed only if we get approval from them. My father had dismissed my appeal saying Indian university would be best for me. However, I did not give up. I was adamant to convince him somehow.
To study in UK 1 needs to appear for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The examination fee was huge for me as I was jobless and I could not ask for help from my father. Luckily, I had some money in my bank account from my last job. I spent almost all the amount for IELTS. I did not hesitate twice to add another feather in my cap of “bankrupt”.
One fine morning, I woke up and enrolled my name for IELTS through British Council Library. I went through the broachers given by BCL. For the first time in my life, I felt confident about doing well in exam.
After all the hustle and bustle finally, the exam day had arrived. I left home at 6:45 to catch the first metro train. IELTS was at 8 A.M. Examination center was one hour from my place by metro train. Before leaving home, my mom asked me to recheck my things specially, my admit card and passport without which I would be disqualify for the exam and I did just that. I kept everything in a transparent file and held that file tightly in my hand. I was in a hurry as my only option was to board the first train or else I will not be able to reach my destination on time.
I felt relieved, After reaching metro station on time. The first train was about to come in 15 minutes and ticket counter was almost empty. I started walking slowly towards station after buying my ticket for destination, thinking that I have 10 minutes of enough time in my hand to reach platform.
Just when I was about to stripe my metro card to enter the main platform, I noticed from the corner of my eye that my admit card for the IELTS exam is missing from my transparent file. I was shocked . My heart started pounding. I felt like crying but somehow controlled myself. I had just 9 minutes to make a decision. If I miss first train then I will not be able to make it for exam. If I go without admit card the examiner would not allow me to sit for the exam.
I turned back and walked until the entrance to check if I had dropped it there. It was not there. I looked into my watch and without any sympathy or empathy, shamelessly ; it told me I have only 5-6 minutes to make a final decision. I started walking towards station to catch the train. Metro station is not far away from our house but I could not call my father. I knew being an ex defense personnel, he would first scold me for my carelessness and that was the last thing I wanted in that situation.
While I was waiting for my train, thousands of thoughts were running on my mind. I wanted to call my family members badly but it was not possible. I needed someone who could suggest me how to tackle the situation. I started going through my contact list on my phone and found no one to call. Moreover, it was too early to disturb anyone. I said to myself to calm down first and no one can help me now if I do not help myself. I needed myself first than anyone else. I had read somewhere in crisis keep your calm. This lesson really had helped me that day.
I got down at my station. I had been walking very slowly. I was sure even if I reach on time I would not get chance to enter hall without the admit card. I called someone to ask if he knew about any cyber café near British Embassy to download my admit card from my mail. Soon, I regretted my decision of calling. In spite, of giving me any solution he replied annoyingly,”why are you like this?” I already knew I had made a mistake; I did not call to confirm it. For god sake, it was a mistake. I did not drop it somewhere intentionally. In fact, I had held it very tightly and carefully. Moreover, File was still there only my admit card was missing. I had no time to answer his questions. Calling someone and informing them about your ordeal is another mistake you commit, I had learned that day. If they cannot help you, they will waste your time.
I started looking around me for signs of cyber café. All I could see is offices and they were closed. It was early morning. I saw two security guards chit chatting in front of TATA office. I asked, if they could help me to get a print out from their office and they looked least interested to help me out. Then I asked them if ,there is any café nearby and they asked me what do I mean by cyber café? I left without answering them. I was running out of time.
When I reached British Embassy, I saw two other girls waiting with their father. They were talking to each other happily. I still had around 35 minutes in my hand. I started walking around the area. Except a three star hotel, shutters of all other shops were down. There was no trace of human anywhere. Hesitantly, I approached two security guards standing at the three star hotel named “the golden”, as my previous experience in TATA office was not positive. I asked them, if there is cyber café inside their hotel. They told me they were not sure and I should go inside the hotel and ask their manager.
I wore just a simple jeans and t-shirt, not a perfect dress to enter in a star hotel. I was not expecting any help from them. Still I could not give up. They were my last hope.
A very pretty woman was talking over phone with someone at the hotel lobby. I regret now I did not ask her name that day. I stood before her . She looked up and asked me with a genuine smile how she could help me. I narrated my story to her and told her that my exam is about to start in 25 minutes. She listened to me sympathetically.
She informed me that their hotel does not have cyber café but I may download my admit card from my mail by paying 100 bucks for it. The normal price for a single black & white printout is 10 bucks anywhere in India. I was ready to pay any amount in that situation. I readily agreed to her demand of 100 bucks.
A man took me to another room. There were around 10 computers in that room. It took almost 5 minutes to start the machine and they were not sure in which computer internet facility was available. My heart started pounding again. Every second felt like a luxury to me. I started praying to God to help me. I did not have time to check all the other nine computers for internet. I thought It would be disaster if I lose after coming this far.
I thanked my stars when I saw the google homepage on the first computer itself. I downloaded my admit card quickly and ran towards the lobby to pay for it. I was taken aback to find that lady was not in her seat. Then I saw 4-5 staffs approaching me. I wondered, oh, no! I do not have time to explain you all why I am here. but in spite of asking me anything, one of the staff said,” Madam, you may leave now for your exam.” I replied,” No, actually, I am looking for that woman. I am in hurry please give this 100 bucks to her and say thanks on my behalf.” The man replied,” Mam, it is okay, we do not need money for that print out. You just run. Your exam is about to start in 10 minutes and all the best to you for your exam.” I could not argue with him due to limited time. I thanked him and started running. On my way out, I met other staffs and they all wished me luck for the exam. They denied accepting even a single buck from me. I understood they all knew my story. They brought smile on my face in that difficult situation.
I came across that charming lady again at the main gate. She was talking to someone. I ran to her to say thanks quickly. She wished me luck again, never leaving that angel like smile from her face. That is how i finally reached my examination center with my admit card. All thanks to the perfect stranger.
Although, UK trip never happened but I will never forget this incident in my life. I thank that lady every time I narrate this story to someone. This post is also kind of tribute to her. Because of her, my faith in humanity is still intact. Because of her, I believe that good people exist on earth. Moreover, she had taught me to help people.
I am fortunate enough to come across few strangers like her who had helped me in my hour of need. I will share stories of those wonderful strangers someday. I met them for few minutes in my life but they had left permanent marks in my heart.