Lithium-ion batteries (often used in phones) are tested at various temperature cycles. Highest of these cycles is often at 250 degrees C (or Fahrenheit 482), the temperature at which they catch fire, and burn…
“You are Sneha?” asked Francois (4.7) with the white Toyota Prius. “Oui,” I answered, wrenching open the rear door and making space for Sneha as she hurried down the front steps of our Airbnb. Only 14 minutes late. It had started to drizzle.
“How’s it going guys,” remarked Francois cheerfully from the front of the white Toyota Prius once we were buckled in and on our way.
“Good! Et toi?” responded Sneha.
“Fantastic! First time in city?”
“I went to university here, she’s visiting me,” I said a bit shortly.
“Ah yeah, this city, amazing for students. Half my money I make giving rides to drunk students coming back from St Laurent,” he chuckled. “And they always rate me a 5 on the app too.”
Sneha smiled politely.
“Sweet hai yeh,” said Sneha to me in Hindi. He’s sweet.
“Haan, kuch zyada hi.” A bit too much.
“Delhi ke taxi drivers se toh better hai.” Better than Delhi’s taxi drivers.
“I would rather ugly honesty than dishonest sweetness.”
“Well I would rather good service than platitudes, tee bee aitch.”
“So you guys are from Punjab?” asked Francois who continued trying to make conversation.
My family is Kashmiri but we moved to Punjab after the genocide in the 90s and then I moved to Delhi for university before dropping out and leaving India. Sneha’s parents are from Andhra Pradesh but she grew up in California…
“I had an Indian friend who was from Punjab. Good chap.”
I rolled my eyes at Sneha. She smirked.
“Someone’s grumpy,” she whispered as she slipped her hand into mine and leaned her head. I smiled slightly, thought for a second, and then smiled properly and squeezed her hand.
“Look over there,” I said pointing out of the window as we lurched through the leftover traffic from rush hour. The residual rain had smudged together the colors on the glass, the pixels exploding prettily. “Michael and I used to live there, senior year. And that’s Pikolo, my favorite hipster coffee house. They don’t even have WiFi. You have to sit and enjoy your coffee like some kind of monster.”
“And that’s La Subway. You can get all sorts of sandwiches made to –”
“I’ll take the grumpiness over the lame jokes actually,” she groaned as she punched me.
I grinned, and continued reminiscing. The past was coagulating already, warmed by the present. My mother had told me once that everyone is always nostalgic for the city they studied in. The stress drains out eventually from muscles; the memories succumbing to a kind of Stockholm’s Syndrome, stuck to places and faces.
“Did you hear about the new ratings thing?” asked Sneha, interrupting my reverie.
She unlocked her phone. The ride-share app was already open on it, and she swiped right to bring out the side menu. “You see the rating next to my name? Now the drivers can rate the passengers too.”
“Sounds like something out of Black Mirror,” I remarked.
“Guess so. My rating is pretty high though, hehe.”
“It’s because you’re such a cutie.”
I pinched Sneha’s (4.89) cheek. She stuck her tongue out at me.
I pulled out my phone and navigated to the app. Swipe right.
“What?! Only a 4.3!”
“Haha I beat you. Guess I’m just way nicer than you.”
“Ya probably.” I regained composure. “But also who cares.”
“Ya of course, it’s pretty silly. I think you’re nice tho.”
“Thanks, tho” I muttered, half-sarcastic and half-affectionate.
“But actually, think about it - we are now rating each other on our ability to make small talk for twenty minutes,” I remarked after a little while.
“Hmm I think it’s mainly to discourage people from being late or forcing drivers to drive around to pick them up, stuff like that.”
“Yes but I wouldn’t do that. Do you think it’s because of my accent?”
“No of course not,” she said soothingly.
“I’m telling you, people really don’t like Indian accents…”
“I think you overthink that.”
“I wonder if they normalize the ratings based on one’s past ratings. My idea of a 4-star ride might not be the same as someone else’s idea of a 4-star ride.”
“I’m sure they employ only the best data scientists.”
“Hmph, is that why I see products with five stars but only one rating on Amazon.”
“Speaking of Amazon, do you think we’ll be able to rate yuppie organic apples now?”
A couple of seconds later:
“Do you think this is discriminatory towards people who are on the autism spectrum.”
Minutes passed in quiet contemplation of the rain-splattered windows.
“Did you end up reading that short story in And The Mountains Echoed?” We’d both recently fallen in love with Hosseini’s beautiful and emotionally-abusive writing.
“Yeah I loved it. I liked how he suggests that though the protagonist’s cousin does nice things for others because of selfish reasons, so that they love and respect him, this was perhaps better than not helping people at all. Interesting idea.”
“It reminded me a little of my first year philosophy course. We studied moral frameworks, and as part of that we compared Kant’s deontological ethics and Mill’s brand of consequentialism.”
“Yeah I see how you mean.”
“All right here’s your stop. Hope you guys have great day!”
“Thanks! You too!” I said with a huge smile.
I got out and kept the door open for Sneha, shutting it carefully behind her.
“Thanks for the ride again man. Cheers!” I called out cheerfully. But I heard Francois (4.72) get a rider-match ping, so understandably he was too distracted to respond.
Later in the day, on further musing, I (4.3) remembered it was Sneha (4.82) who had booked the ride.