Life in India #2

All characters appearing in this article are not at all fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely intentional. Hee.

Mission : Reach bus stand before 8:00 PM

Date      : 30.10.2013

Time      : 6:15 PM

Place     : My room.

I pace around the room asking out loud to no one in particular whether I have forgotten to pack anything. I start to stack away all the expensive utensils inside my cupboard lest I face the wrath of my poor roommate who had kept everything outside for my benefit.

Since I had some bread with me, I decided to have some before I start my journey. I have time, that’s what I thought. After all, the bus only starts at 8:00 PM.

I bid a heartfelt goodbye to my room and lock the door once I finished my pathetic dinner.

Time      : 6:30 PM

Place     : Out on the streets??

I really don’t know what possessed me at the time to go to a mobile accessories shop to ask for an extra pair of ear buds for my headset. The guy was cool enough to give me a pair for free, since I had bought the headset from their shop.

I flagged down an auto-rickshaw coming that way and asked him whether he can take me to my bus stop which is almost 11 Km away from my area. One might be wondering why I am asking the driver whether he can take me to the destination. That, people, is the specialty of the autos in Bangalore city. They don’t take you to the places you want to go to; rather they take you only to the places they are willing to go to. Otherwise, they will shake their head and go off to…who-knows-where! There’s no such thing as “Customer is the king” here… See the difference??

Coming back to the story, the auto driver said he’d take me to my bus stop. He kept the meter on, which put a smile to my face.  At least he’s not planning to dig a hole in my pocket.

He takes me to the main road (which is a one way) and there starts our strange conversation.

Driver:  “Madam, left or right?” (In Kannada)

Me: “Kannada Gothilla” (Trans: Don’t know Kannada).  By the way, this is a one way, you can only go left.

Driver: Oh, so, it is.

He turns left and we get stuck in the first traffic jam at the 4 way junction. He stops the auto and asks the girls in a scooter next to us as to how to reach the place I want to go to.

Me: “Bhaiyya (Trans: Brother), you know Hindi or English? “

Driver: “No…”

I tentatively try speaking in Tamil, which I understand, but hardly speak. Somehow it works and we are able to communicate (I silently thank all the Tamil film actors in my mind). I will put in the rough translations here for better understanding.

Me:  “Bhaiyya, are you sure you know the way?”

Driver: “Oh yes…I know. We just have to go through that road.” (He points to a road in the right)

Me: “That’s another one-way. You can’t turn there.”

Driver: “Oh then, it must be the other one on the right. “

Me: “It leads to the railway station. Where exactly are you planning to take me? I can show you the way if you tell me what you are looking for.”

Driver: “Don’t worry madam. All’s well.”

The scooter girls were listening in to our conversation and gave me a pitiful smile.

Time      : 6:50 PM

Place     : Still on the road… 

We again got stuck in traffic next to a cricket stadium.

Driver: “Whoa…madam, look at those gigantic lights on the stadium.”

Me (Looking at my watch and sighing): “They require those to play during night time.”

Driver: “I wonder how much electricity they use for it.”

Me: “I don’t know bhaiyya. Traffic is moving. Hurry please.”

My driver uncle seems to have an affinity towards buses. He takes his position behind a bus and refuses to move to the other lane, which hardly had any traffic.

Me: “Bhaiyya, there’s a bus stop there in front. The bus will hold us up. Why don’t you change the lane?”

Driver: “Don’t worry beta. We’ll easily get there on time.”

Like I thought, the bus stopped and we got stuck. By the time the driver realized that he could have changed lanes, it was already late.  The bus finally started moving and we again got stuck in the same traffic for the third time in a row.

Time      : 7:20 PM

Place     : …….

Me: “Bhaiyya, please hurry up. I need to report at the bus agency at 7:30 PM.”

Driver: “You are seeing the traffic right? How am I supposed to go?”

Me: “We are getting stuck coz you are trying to follow the buses. Please overtake them. There’s no time for me to spare.”

Driver: “Hmmm…ok.”

Time      : 7:35 PM

Place     : Still a long way to go

I get a call from the bus agency to confirm whether am planning to show up or not. I get panicked and beg them to wait since am stuck in traffic. They laugh and ask me to hurry.

Me: “I have to reach before 7:45 PM.”

Driver: “Impossible”

Me: “Bhaiyya, don’t say like that…you can do it. Follow that ambulance. We have a better chance at cutting traffic if we do that. Also, you are an expert in following vehicles.”

Driver: “Is it so? But, its an ambulance….”(shakes head)

Me: “Bhaiyyaaaaaaa….”

Driver: “ok…ok…will do”

Time      : 7:50 PM

Place     : On the road!

I start to pray for the traffic lights to stay green on my way. Miraculously, it happened and even the driver was surprised at the strength of my prayer.

We reach the opposite side of the bus stop and there’s literally no way for the driver to turn the vehicle through the traffic. I got down then and the driver wished me luck for getting my bus. (Yeah, I would require a lot of that). It must have looked like a scene from a movie for the people stuck in traffic…A strange girl running through the traffic in between all the vehicles to get to the bus stop.

Time      : 7:58 PM

Yup, I got my bus pass and boarded the bus with 2 minutes to spare. Phew!!!!

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