I am a woman enough to laugh at my navigation skills that are allied with the presence of the sun. The moment it disappears, my navigational skills become alien to me and unfortunately am yet to read the stars to perceive a sense of direction after sunset.

So, this is in the previous millennium when we lived in Tokyo and more importantly Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were yet to come up with the I phone, requiring people like me to ask strangers for  direction when lost, which was often enough for me to write a diary.  An Indian woman does not hesitate to ask for direction, though one could write volumes on the resistance of the men in doing the same.

When lost in Tokyo, I would excuse myself and stop a passer by to ask for direction and the response was always the same. The stranger would come to full stop in a world which hurried around us. He or she would look at me and the kids to say- ‘you follow me’ and the person would slowly navigate the busy street around people returning from work, rushing home and every few minutes would stop to look back to check if I was following with my two children in tow. Yes, I would be walked home, bowed deep at and bid a respectful adieu.

This happened not once but many a times and I truly doff my hat to the Japanese hospitality, helpfulness and willingness to go out of the way to help a lost soul. I have walked with or followed perfect strangers, both men and women, often engaging in conversation in some English on their part, bit of broken  Japanese on my part and lot of sign language from both. I sure set a poor example for my children in a world which tells them to not talk to strangers!

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 6.38.53 PMIn India when one gets lost one usually asks a passerby, ‘hey brother/sister can you tell me how to get to so and so’ only to hear the direction combined with vigorous hand movements showing the road, directing a left or a right with the hand turning either ways while two more passerby might join to add their inputs. All kinds of landmarks including big trees, tall buildings, short buildings, colorful houses would be mentioned. ‘Yes, you go straight like this, turn right (with the palm showing the direction of course) at the big brown building, walk for five minutes and you will see a big tree, walk further etc etc. In Australia I have had a very exasperated GPS repeating over and over again, almost as if admonishing, ‘make a legal right turn when possible’ and that too in a city where one turns right from the left most lane!!! Yes, in Melbourne CBD in a right hand drive car, one has to be in the extreme left lane to turn right when the signal changed colour! To the Americans when the light changed color

Now I live in the United States where directions are quite scientific with replies like go north about two miles and turn east on Sunset Boulevard and so on. For a woman who has spent majority of her life in common wealth nations, I take a while to figure the two miles into kilometers and of course with the sun down, north? What north? Where is north? Oh where is my phone! But then nothing comes close to the time when yours truly asked the driver in Accra, Ghana if we were lost and if he knew where we were, only to see him ponder deeply, think a while more, look around, turn back and confirm delightedly, “madaaam, yesss, we are er here”!!! And then I knew I was truly lost!

Have you ever been lost? Come now, we all get lost, sometimes without the phone on person! Did your experience humor you or exasperate you? Share here to get some laughs and few sympathies….

Picture courtesy: http://www.cartoonstock.com & http://www.pinterest.com

13 thoughts on “Lost but not lonesome…

  1. Normally I do not like to admit to feeling lost, but there is only so much you can do when you stay in a neighbourhood which has close to 30 different apartment complexes with all names starting with “Sun”- something or “Star”-something. It happens every time some passerby stops and ask, “Which way is “Sundew” ? … I go … “er … er … I … I … not sure, I think it is that way … oh wait … it is the other way”.


  2. I’m always doing a U turn, a V turn or a W turn, even on the esteemed company of Siri or Garmin, or Google maps. I’m just waiting for the self driving car at this point!


    • Oh yes, my kids say one of these days the irritating voice of the GPS is going to jump out to shake me to follow the direction. I at this point am quite wary of the self driven cars I see gingerly making turns in the neighborhood but then they are better than the thought of my 95 year old neighbor renewing his driving license.


  3. Getting lost ? Oh that happens almost every time i venture out in my own and I have to go on a different route than the usual one. I have zero sense of direction. I might have gone from point A to point B many times but if you ask me the route I can never tell . unlike men who can tell ten different routes to the same place. In my defence I would like to generalise and say women are made that way . they have way too many things to take care of not to bother about Knowing or remembering roads or routes. Lets leave the expertise in that to lesser mortals like men 😉


  4. Once, we had to reach our daughter to a remote examination center. We followed google maps diligently, only to realize to our horror that it landed us in front of a public loo. No exam center in the vicinity. Google the great was wrong (Larry Page – are you reading this?). The friendly rickshaw wala led us to the right place, and we sped along and reached her to the exam center in the nick of time.
    So for me the friendly rickshaw wala reigns supreme. Woznaik, Page et al are yet to dethrone him.
    Meanwhile, I am still puzzled…take a right from the left-most lane??


    • I say in India, no technology/GPS can replace asking the passerby, cab driver, shop keeper or anyone you find in the place you are lost. Glad your daughter reached the examination center on time. I googled the turn right from left for you and here is a link to it. Enjoy and yes, I drove here, doing exactly this.


  5. This is the fault of the double X chromosome…creating ” damsels in distress” that need to be rescued. Being directed to go North, South or whatever always frustrates me, especially inside a building! Once, a helpful, although very strange looking stranger in the SF Presidio was leading me in to the Palace of Arts at dusk, and the route looked dubious to me. Visions of stark headlines, ” Indian woman slain under bridge near Presidio” promoted me to do a Y turn and proceed to get further lost. It was only by some miracle, and a half hour later that I managed to reach my destination, only to be told the stranger was actually leading the right way, and not preparing to strangle me!


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