The 16 hour roller coaster ride.

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It was time. No threatening work looming over my head, an increasing pile of messy junk cluttering my room, and an artificially extended weekend for me to cool off. It was time to tip my hat off to Bangalore for a while and pop by the ol’ ancestral abode back down south in Cochin.

Of course, I am using the term ‘ancestral’ rather loosely. I guess the proper use of the term implies an age old structure that had sheltered the clan for generations. Such a structure does not exist in my case. My parents live in a modern creation that my dad built with his own bare hands; hands which he basically used to guide the construction workers.

But with your permission, which I shall take for granted, I shall proceed to continue with this slight lexical deception. It was time to login to the ancestral abode and enjoy a bit of smothering care. As with most things in my life, including my decision to do an MBA, this was also an impulsive decision. But experienced commuters would readily testify that this is not the healthiest option you could hope for.

A trip from Bangalore to Cochin is usually the culmination of months of planning. If the desired date of journey happens to be a Friday, which is so often the case, train tickets get sold out at least a month in advance. Even bus tickets are sold out around a week in advance. And here I was, dreaming of a Friday ticket as late as Thursday. Which meant I was looking at the prospect of traveling in a ‘special bus’.

special cos

There is a special kind of dread that clutches the mind of a person holding a ‘special bus’ ticket. A ‘special bus’, in this context, refers to an overpriced wheelbarrow with 72 terrified passengers pondering over the merits of suicide. And I had the dubious distinction of holding the LAST seat available for the LAST bus out to Cochin. Just getting aboard the contraption should entitle me to a daredevil status.

When I reached the point of departure, my heart sank, not that it was floating about merrily before that.

“Excuse me, sir. Is that a bus?”

“Huh? You mean… is that the bus to Cochin… right?”

“No. First things first. Is that A bus?”

“?? Errr… yeah.”

“Ok. Now… Is that the ‘special bus’ to Cochin?”

“Yup. That’s it alright. We’ll start boarding in a few minutes.”

“Ok. Thank you. Call me when that starts. I’ll be over there. I need to bang my head on that tree stump a few thousand times.”

The bus in question was not yet complete in the truest sense of the word. As I was looking on, a guy in dirty khaki trousers was fitting headlights on the vehicle. Parts of it had not been painted yet, and there was a complete absence of the customary number plate usually used to identify the vehicle. I presume it was out drying somewhere.

There was a driver on board, who was doing his bit in the form of turning the key and banging the dashboard with what appeared to be a set of books. I had the stark suspicion that this guy was not professional by nature. What clued me in was that he was sounding the horn on a frequent basis although the bus was stationary and there was nothing in its way. Also, he was shirtless. The dashboard mercifully hid the rest of him, so I can only assume – and pray – that he was at least half-clothed.

It finally gurgled itself to life, much to the amazement of onlookers, some of whom were taking snapshots of the old relic. And as predicted, I found that I had just about the worst seat on board. As I prepared for the eleven hour journey, I found myself praying.

To say the ride was a bumpy one was like saying the Pacific Ocean was slightly moist. I learned the basics of low altitude somersaults that night. The bus seemed like it had been assigned the task of finding all the bumps from Bangalore to Cochin. If that was the case, it did a pretty good job. And every time it went over a bump, I flew through the air with the greatest of ease. As with most flights, the real trouble was the landing. It takes particular skill in landing back on your seat without hurting your back. A couple of times, I fell right smack on the armrest. Do NOT try that at home.

When the going gets tough, the tough gets roughed up. To top it all, the whole journey extended to 16 hours.

And yet, here I am, tapping away on my laptop. BACK in Bangalore, and with an X-ray showing ‘no permanent injuries’. A second leash on life. A new day,  a new start. Woo hoo! Time to CELEBRATE! What do I do? WHAT do I do? What do I do? Hmm… Maybe I can visit Cochin tomorrow.

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8 Responses

  1. dj says:

    ROFL!!

    “A new day, a new start. Woo hoo! Time to CELEBRATE! What do I do? WHAT do I do? What do I do? Hmm… Maybe I can visit Cochin tomorrow.”

    May be you should go.

  2. silverine says:

    Hilarious!! 😀

    We had a similar exp when I was in school. We had to rush to Kochi, me and mom for some emergency and we got a bus without windshield or number plate! The driver drove with a towel around his face and we were all busy scratching our faces during the joyride due to the dust. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, we were asked to change bus. The other bus was standing some light years away. My mom blasted the driver and kili and they carried our stuff to the other bus. She has this effect on the toughest of men! :p

    Good one! Me is blogrolling you dear!

  3. mathew says:

    hehehe..you havent tried the bangalore-mysore-gundelpet-calicut route, have you!!;-P

  4. hammy says:

    @dj:
    Yeah, maybe I should. Those bus rides seem to be the only exercise I get anyway…

    @silverine:
    I’d like to borrow your mom for a while, if you are not using her right now. There are a few wise guys I know on whom I’d like to see that effect.

    I hate it when they ask us to change the bus in the middle of nowhere. The last time that happened, I was sitting with my eyes closed, listening to Nickelback’s ‘Savin’ Me‘ for the 1,243rd time. When I opened my eyes, I felt like I was in the twilight zone, with the other passengers apparently vanished into fat air. Luckily, they waited for me to sort out the confusion and find the new bus.

    And of course, thanks for the blogroll…
    😀

    @mathew:
    Yes, I have. And that was downright cruel of you, matt, to remind me of the ordeal. Two hours into that ill-fated journey and I was shouting, “Alright, alright. I’ll talk. What do you want to know? You want me to confess? Which mass murder should I confess to? I’ll do it!”

    I was just getting ready to shelve things from my mind, when… you bring it up like this. Now I’ll have to consider therapy again.
    🙁

  5. Abraham says:

    Well on the brighter side you didnt have an mootas(bed bugs) to handle….:D I have some really horrible experiences with them on the bus! And If it had happened 2000 years ago, I would have compiled them all into a Greek Tragedy!

  6. Arun Jose says:

    hehe… too good, man! 🙂

    I loved the reply to Mathew’s comment!!!

  7. amooma says:

    u any connection to wodehouse, by any chance? did he come to kerala? hilarious.

  8. hammy says:

    @amooma:
    Of course there is a connection. Me a BIG fan. And that ‘big’ can be applied in the literal sense too. I can’t say I’ve read ALL his books, but whatever I’ve read is good enough for me to declare – Wodehouse is the funniest writer that ever yielded a pen.

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