The request from Rajan, the car service driver was cryptic. “Can we stop by the office and pick up the bill?”
“Do we have enough time before the flight?”
“Yes, we have plenty of time.
The route of Chennai is always chaotic. Evening rush hour peaks from 7 to 9, ideally the time I need to leave to make the evening Singapore Airways flight. Depending on where my day ends, some routes are familiar while others are an exercise in chaotic trust. I trust Rajan to know the way, even as the twists and turns make little or no sense to me. As we weave to the left and right, pushing forward resolutely, there is a turn on a side street that is less than two cars wide. Now that I have done this twice, I recognize where we are. We are on the way to the office. In a short while we will come to a lamppost in a nondescript Chennai neighborhood. The office is on the lower floor of an otherwise forgettable white building.
The first time I arrived, Rajan assumed I knew where we were. His cryptic “I’ll be right back” did nothing to inform or assure me. I found myself mouthing David’s words; “God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?” (Psalm 22.1)
Was the neighborhood safe? What was the plan? How long would I sit alone in the darkness?
I relived the emotions last night as I travelled to the airport, this time with a colleague. As we turned down the dark alley, there was an edge in his voice as he asked, “Where are we going”?
“Do not worry. We are just stopping by the office.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am sure. I have been here before.”
We sit in the darkness, waiting. I can hear the sharp edge in his voice, wondering if I really know. When Rajan comes back with a credit-card slip to sign, everything falls into place. Some stops only make sense with the benefit of time.