Supposedly Uneventful Journey
Supposedly Uneventful Journey7 mins 391 7 mins 391
“It’s been a while, let me take a bus”, I thought. After the long train travel with interrupted sleep, choosing a taxi for the rest of the travel was always cozily tempting. But these days I am up for little things that keep me physically more engaged and active. Perhaps inspired by my friend Biswas dada, who says that one should keep giving the body some trouble to keep it fit.
I ended up in a bus that was fairly crowded. I had a sling bag hanging across the shoulder and another one held on by hand. With the sharp turns, cuts and the driver’s display of his braking skills, I was already feeling like being in performing art. Only I wasn’t sure whether it was breakdance, hip hop, a bit of salsa or the more classic forms. Soon I found myself looking for a place to park my bag which I luckily found under one of the last row seats. Now with my both hands-free, I was ready for the rest of the zero-gravity ride. People who travelled private buses in Kerala will probably agree with me.
“One Pala” I said to the busy looking conductor who had the amazing power to gracefully ease through the crowd knowing exactly when his driver partner would turn or brake. He told me that I was on one of the very few buses that take a much longer circuitous route to Pala. He advised me to take ticket upto Kidangoor around 5-6 kms away and from there take another bus to Pala that would be the more direct route and hence faster. While I was thinking about it, he seemed perplexed. I could make out that “does he not get it ?” kind of look on his face. I wouldn’t have cared for the extra time, but considering there was no chance of getting a seat any sooner, I thought let me take my chance with another bus. “Ok, one Kidangoor then” !!
After many more twists and squeaking of brakes, I saw the conductor turning his head towards me from the other end of the bus waving to me to get down. It was Kidangoor already !!. I had just wandered into the daydreaming world trying to run a startup company - what a short end to a seemingly nice venture.
I got down; the bus left; realised my second bag is still on the bus; I waved frantically - seemed like all of these happened at the same time. Due to failing eyesight, I couldn’t read the name of the bus, leave alone the bus number. There was a time when I used to note the details of the vehicles I boarded, including the registration number. No place for such finesse in today’s broiler chicken kind of lives. Now all I remember was the colour of the bus - Blue with white stripes. Looked around for some autos or taxis to chase down the bus. None found.
Went to a nearby shopkeeper and asked if he knew the name of the bus that just passed. I told him the colour of the bus was blue with white stripes. He said that didn’t help at all as all buses are blue and white stripes these days and there are so many buses that pass through every minute. Private buses in Kerala did not have any colour code requirement until just last year. So though the locals identified most buses by their names, they could also be identified by their distinct colour/design. Now with the uniform colour codes imposed for city buses (green with white stripes), mofussil buses (blue with white stripes) and limited stop buses (maroon with white stripes), I was totally without a clue.
What an eventful day and the day had hardly begun. Tired; just needed to reach home, take a bath, if possible a short nap. I guess all that just got pushed by.... god knows how long! Once I get over with this I promised myself I will take the first available taxi and head home.
Ok now I had to hold on with the emotions and think rationally - what do I have here - all my cash, cards, ids are safe with me in my wallet. My mobile, wi-fi s, chargers, laptop all safe with me in the shoulder bag. So what I lost is not much - few dresses, some books, personal care kits, sweets and gifts for close ones and a pretty good carry bag. Ok - I can live with the loss.
What is the information I have - blue/white bus, the approx time it passed Kidangoor, destination/last stop is Pala. That’s all? And yes one of the “very few buses that took the longer route to Pala”. Hmm that’s useful. That will help in narrowing down the search. Good!! Wait! didn’t I buy a ticket? Checked my wallet and lo it was there. What info do we have on the ticket? Bus name “Companion”, bus registration number 6464 - wow this is more than enough to track it at the Pala bus stand because these buses probably do multiple trips a day.
So I just needed to reach the Pala bus stand and talk to the folks there. Before I stopped thinking about it, a KSRTC bus headed to Pala stopped right in front of me. I got inside and got seated within like 4-5 strides. “One Pala”. Gave ₹50/- for a ₹12/- ticket. “Two rupees ?” asked the conductor. I didn’t have. He gave me back ₹40/- and moved on cursing me and my likes who travel without change. It was not common for a govt conductor to let go ₹2 just like that. When he came around I gave him a 10 rupee note and asked him to keep it - I told him he can use it for some other passengers who might end up without change like me and he shouldn’t be losing from his end. He declined my offer politely. I told him about the incident involving my bag. He said given that the other bus had a longer route to Pala, there was every chance we would reach Pala before that bus would. KSRTC is the fastest moving object on Kerala roads, locals will agree. Hmm, so there was a jolly good chance that I would reach Pala before my bag does, even though we both started together from Bangalore. Nice. He also suggested to call the Pala bus stand and inform them. Good suggestion and Google god got me the enquiry number. Honestly, I was not expecting anyone at a local small town private bus stand enquiry office, to be answering calls. So I was pleasantly surprised to hear someone promptly answering my call from the other end. He took the details, asked me where exactly the bag was kept in the bus and reassured me that he will get it collected and kept in the enquiry office.
I reached Pala bus stand and met the person in the enquiry whom I had talked to. He said the bus had not yet arrived. He pointed to someone standing at the entrance of the bus stand and told me that he was asked to collect my bag from the bus. I went over, thanked him and told him that I will take it from here. Probably waited for another 15-20 minutes. Saw the bus named “Companion” enter the stand. Waited for the last person to get down. Found my bag exactly where I left it. For the second time, saw the same confused look on the conductor’s face. Obviously he had no inkling about what happened. I just smiled at him, took my bag and walked over to the enquiry guy to let him know I got it; thanked him once more.
In a parallel world, I might have continued on the same bus without de-boarding at Kidangoor and I would have had an uneventful journey and the time taken would still have been the same. But that was not to be. My journey had to be eventful today otherwise I would not have met a few more good people. It could also, very well have ended differently, like me losing the bag, and ranting something very bitter and coarse here. This is true about the many journeys in our lives too.
I had the taxi stand to my left and the bus for onward journey home, to my right. I took the bus again.