You Have Arrived: GPS Aunty

Sudhanshu Ramteke
Saturday, 11 May 2019

I killed the engine, parked my bike and looked around in the hope of finding the restaurant I was heading to. Instead, I found the perfect parking spot for space ships if aliens ever turned religious and decided to visit Shirdi. The place looked more deserted than the government offices during lunchtime and that worried me. 

You have reached your destination,” a familiar voice reassured. 

I killed the engine, parked my bike and looked around in the hope of finding the restaurant I was heading to. Instead, I found the perfect parking spot for space ships if aliens ever turned religious and decided to visit Shirdi. The place looked more deserted than the government offices during lunchtime and that worried me. 

I checked the address again which clearly mentioned that the place was in NIBM Annexe and replicated the grand lifestyle of NIBM. If this was grand, I was Bill Gates. Enough, it was time for blame game. I looked at my mobile phone and spoke in a disappointed tone — “GPS Aunty, you’ve failed me.”

In case you’re wondering, here’s why I refer to my navigation assistant as GPS Aunty
- She always keeps a track of where I’m going and when I’ll be back.
- She always ensures that I follow the path that she suggests and ignore my gut instincts.
- She always makes me drive in circles as if telling me that if my rotis aren’t round enough, no one will ever marry me.

Don’t get me wrong. A lot of things have changed every since GPS Aunty came into my life. I started exploring newer regions and was no longer afraid to venture beyond the obvious. Even while travelling alone, it felt as if I had a companion who was my guide. However, I’ve never been able to really connect with the GPS Aunty. We travel together but our locations never match. It’s not just me:

- Have you ever seen food delivery executives reaching your doorstep without your french fries becoming soggy and inedible?
- Have you ever seen cab drivers reaching your location without at least two of them canceling the booking?
- Have you ever seen your friends arriving at your place whenever you’re sad or feeling low or crying because your favourite Avenger died? 

My Mom once pointed out that most of these service providers were males and maybe that was the reason that they could not find the location set by the GPS Aunty. Men often ignore what women say, hear what they have to and then play the blame game, my Mom suggested. I tried to ask my Dad about his opinion, but he said that he hadn’t heard what my mother said and then blamed us for ruining his Sunday morning beauty sleep (it was a Tuesday). 

I was stranded in the middle of NIBM Annexe but I remembered what my Mom said and felt bad for blaming the GPS Aunty. Maybe there would have been less confusion if GPS Aunty was more personalised. It becomes difficult to relate to a frequently choking robotic voice trying to pronounce the diligently named Pune streets. Some variety wouldn’t hurt. For instance...

The Roadies Team: What could be more interesting than team Roadies guiding you while you’re on the road? Instead of traffic updates, they’ll be giving out challenges and if you fail, they’ll be hurling their trademark taunts. If you enable the speaker mode, they’ll even abuse other people in the traffic and help you get through.

The News Anchors: “Why are you taking the left turn when you can take the right, the nation wants to know”. They will question all your moves till you turn on the PM mode. Once the PM mode is activated, the news anchor will defend all your wanderlust by stating that you are a fakir aadmi.

The Family: Here, your Mom will continuously point out that there are juice centres, breakfast places, restaurants along the route and that you should eat before going any further. Your Dad will only be concerned about his car and will keep reminding you that he will disown you if he finds a single scratch on it. As far as the rest of the family is concerned, no one will really guide you, but they’ll all claim that it’s for your own good.

I tried using the old offline GPS system to locate the restaurant. The old GPS system consisted of auto-drivers, tea stall owners and paanwallas, who knew every street and corner of their area. However, I soon realised that there were more chances of finding religious aliens in this area than humans. Feeling dejected, I again tried to connect with GPS Aunty who now showed me a new path. The new location was 10 minutes away and I started riding again.

Maybe it was the heat, or deserted roads or my sleep deprived state, I zoned out within a few seconds. Next I knew, I was on the sets of Koffee with Karan as a host and GPS Aunty was my guest. She looked just like any basic aunty and that fact comforted me. “You can ask me only 1 question, go ahead”, GPS Aunty spoke in her digital voice. While my options were limited, I knew what I always wanted to ask. “Why don’t our locations ever match?” I questioned. GPS Aunty smiled. “The answer to that is pretty simple but since you’ve asked, I shall oblige. The reason our locations never match is because…..”, GPS Aunty paused. “What happened?” I enquired. GPS Aunty looked me in the eye before replying, “GPS signal lost”.

I came out of my daydream in a jiffy, stopped the bike and looked around. As I stared into the vast abyss of nothingness, that familiar voice spoke again.

“You have reached your destination.” 

(Sudhanshu Ramteke is a stand-up comedian)

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