Hey, remember before STD? Not that STD... I meant STD calls (Forget Cell phone, that was not even a distant dream then). That elaborate, almost ritualistic process of booking a trunk call, getting a waiting number, etc etc etc? Well, I was just reading Kahini's post and something there reminded me of this. Trunk call. And I'd always ask my dad, 'why trunk? Why not...umm, say, long distance.?' And he'd given me a pretty logical answer that made sense then. But I've forgotten what it was. But anyway, this trunk call thing was like in those days, a priced possession of a privileged few. We lived in a colony and my dad was officer grade. So that meant a decent accomodation and great phone privileges. But be that as it may, making a phone call and a trunk call at that, was an 'absolutely-during-emergencies' thing in our house, what with my dad being a stickler for principles, honesty, economy and all that jazz (Am gonna add a few more to the list when it comes to my li'l daughter, that aside). And then it was a given that if we passed by somebody's house and heard someone yelling at the top of the lungs, a trunk call had come a-visiting. One time we booked a trunk call to some place south...Mangalore methinks. We had to discuss some important travel plans with an uncle. Here's how the conversation went (and i'm not making this up). Now, keep in mind the face of a man who wants to talk about just the plans and disconnect. It costs money you see.
The call's come through:
My dad (half frowning): Hello?
My dad (louder now): Hello?
Person on the other side: Hello?
My dad: Gopala?
Person on the other side: Eh?
Dad: Gopala? Raghava from Jaduguda (Our colony)
Dad: Is this...? (The no.)
Dad (having that 'hell-lemme-disconnect-but-hey-what-if-I-don't-get-the-connection-again' look): Is this Mangalore?
Person: Maang loon? Kya maang loon?
Dad: Look, this is a trunk call to Mangalore. Mangalore (louder).
Dad: No Mangalore. Karnataka.
Person: Karnatak? Trunk kiye hain kaa? Yeh Jharsogoda hai.
Dad disconnects. Later after he narrated the whole thing to my mom, my mom - "you should've disconnected the moment he spoke hindi. It's a wrong number obviously."
My dad scratched his head. My mom winked at us and concluded, adding insult to injury, 'it's not rocket science."
Incidentally, my dad's a nuclear scientist.