It all started a week back when I had to plan a day trip to Bangalore to submit my papers for a visa. Visa was for visiting my uncle and grandparents and it is fun as you will be fed well. No disturbances, only food! Jolly good! I was proactive with the whole trip and booked my tickets for this very special one day journey to Bengaluru.
Waitlist number 9! I was confident of getting a confirmed ticket because I still had more than 2 weeks for the journey date. A day before the departure date I get a message that the ticket is confirmed. Day time train, AC ticket, a book in hand and lunch packed by ma! What more would you want for a happy solo trip. What could possibly go wrong!
My dad takes me in his scooter (1) to the train station and on the board, I see this “Indefinite late”. Oh man! I rush to the customer desk and was told that the train is late by 10 hours. I simply could not afford to wait that long and headed straight to the bus station.
Now, this is just hoping that I could catch a bus to the next town of which there are a lot of buses heading to Bengaluru. I got into this jam-packed, crowded [privately operated and owned] bus (2) to Salem at 10:30 in the morning. What would take 55 minutes by car, took 1 hour and 20 minutes. I did a fast paced, half jog walk to the next bus. I was lucky to get a window seat in a [government owned and operated] bus (3) to the city of Bangalore. Mistake, and a grave one. The temperature was 42 degrees Celsius, and opting for the window seat was a very bad mistake. I have no idea why, but the bus just did not cross a speed of 70kmph. Watching cars zoom at 120kmph added fire to the already 42 degrees heat. Here I am, crawling on a highway and the evening sets in making it bearably hot(you are in India, what do you expect) for the rest of the journey.
The Indian railways was kind enough to refund the ticket money and I also booked my return ticket in tatkal, hoping that with the ticket confirmed, the train too, would be confirmed.
As I enter the city through the Electronics City, I get a call from a friend who asks me if a coffee meet up would be possible. With friends, the days are fun! So I get down at a stop and hire an auto (4) to the coffee shop. All done well, now I had to get to the place of stay. Bengaluru is known for the traffic snarls, hence was advised to take the metro (5) to the closest metro station, Majestic, to the place of stay.
Closer the distance, the auto rickshaws don’t say ok. Even if you say that you’d give them more than the metre. Getting a cab will result in me waiting for a longer period. Wonder where the cabs are stuck in the city. I see this [AC City] bus (6). Perks of not knowing the language is, when the conductor asks you something, having no clue what it meant, and you say, “Malleswaram 15th cross”, the message is clearly put across. Although it can put off the conductor, he has no choice but to keep quiet and not utter a word more.
That night, I had the best sleep ever. The next day’s starting was pretty much normal but the ending uniquely queer. Ola Share [cab] (7) to the centre to submit papers and a Uber Prime [cab] (8)back to the place of stay. The train was in the evening and this is the first time, I have booked an auto through an app. Ola auto to the train station and oh, boy! Was I pleased to see the train! With the ticket and the train confirmed I board the most luxurious class [AC two tier] in the train (9). Luxury in this setting means clean, quiet, comfortable coaches with good berths. Destination home, ETA: 00:05 hrs
This is where the twist happened….
I feel my phone vibrating…a phone call from dad…time 00:20 hours. It could not be more vivid. I jumped from my berth and run to the exit. Work with the lock and I open the door to find the train speeding steadily into the night. “Hello! Dad! I slept. I have crossed the station.” was all I could say.
Here I stand, near the door feeling the breeze hit me. Sleepiness was in Pluto and I felt frustrated. A few minutes later, the breeze being much cooler and calm was the state my mind, I decided to let the journey take me instead of me taking the journey. I looked up to see those stars, all sparkling, almost like laughing at my plight. I lowered my vision, not in shame but in amazement to see the sparkling jewels of the night lights of the city that is nearing.
Next station was Tiruppur. I worked up a plan of action for getting back home. Erode happens to be the point through which all trains in the south region pass through. Trains from the west, have to go through Erode to go to the other geographical directions. I get down at Tiruppur, grab an open ticket(tickets that don’t reserve a berth for you) and cross the station to the next platform. I find the train, that I hoped would get me back. As the train approached, the clock said 01:15 hours.
With the open ticket, you can get only in the unreserved section of the train (10) and if you are not part of this place, you have no idea how an unreserved compartment would look like. Well no time because the train was about to depart, what choice did I have but to cramp myself into the compartment.
In the crowd, the strangest of things happened. An epiphany at this time and this place. Again, the first timer in this type of transport, I find people sleeping in all sorts of positions. Under the berth, on the floor, sitting and sleeping on the footboard, on the luggage shelf and even sleeping while standing. My sleep was still light years away, and that is when I got a huge sense of gratitude. From the peak of a mountain, the beauty lies not above, but below. So many would fight for where I am but here I was frustrated about sleeping comfortably in the luxury class and missing my stop.
And the final 12th way was in the comforts of being picked up by parents in the car (11). That is when I realised that what seemed like an anytime, one day trip to a city that I frequently travel can become so exciting when I just let the journey take me. I had no pictures because this was never planned. Honestly speaking I never thought my trip would be like this.
02:25 hours and my bed was calling me.