Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Suffers on safars

Every time I change the punchline, I realize I am driving myself into a hole. The punchline captures only a part of what I want to articulate. So this will be a post which won't have a point at the end, only disjointed reflections.

Like the 18 year-old rebel without a cause, I thought it was cool to travel without a plan and take the route untravelled. Till I met the nemesis of my novice "tourist" in an unreserved third class "general" compartment. I had to go from Delhi to Calcutta. Well, I wanted to make it in time for my mother's birthday. And I had a wait-listed ticket. Maybe I should have "bribed" the ticket collector. But I wanted to see how "bad" does an overnight trip in a general compartment really get?

Now I pride my butt (well, atleast did) on its ability to suffer different kinds of safars in India. I had managed to stand (without fainting) in the rear of a truck through a 6hr trip from an obscure village to Belgaum, Karnataka on a road so pathetic it would have made my teen acne face look proud. But it was a fascinating night trip. Me standing holding a rope from the roof of the truck. Sparks flying underneath the vehicle because of the contact that a chain made with the road. And the view backwards from a vehicle. A word of advice. Never sit on the floor of a truck plying on a potholed road. The other trip that I "managed" was the return from an obscure village near Jhansi, Madhya Pradesh. The ricketiness of the bus was unbearable. And I made the stupid decision of not packing up on water. It was not so stupid considering the village that I had been to was Bisleri-less. What made my decision worse was that all water and soft drinks on the way back were eminently suspect. Not surprisingly, in spite of my precautions, I ended up with diarrhoea. And then I had the trip from Tirupati to Chennai on a state bus. I was "cheated" by a bus booking agency in Hyderabad, from where I had started. He told me the normal-deluxe bus would provide me a switch-over at Tirupati. Only the switch-over was to a state bus which I would have to find myself. Plus I had to shell out the state bus-fare as well.

The worst part of a journey is when you think it is over. And then you realize you have the approximately the same distance left as much as you travelled. That was the kind-of case with the Tirupati-Chennai trip on account of misinformation of travel time. God! It was more mental anguish fried under a Tamil Nadu summer and only soothened by popping dozens of orange lozenges.

Reminds me of a 20 km marathon that I undertook in my Sainik School where I stopped at 19.5 km because I thought the race ended there. Till somebody reminded me that 500m was left and that my completion will up the Patel house points. I tried dragging myself. And once even that didn't work, I just rolled myself over for the last 10 metres.

I guess the "general" compartment travel will have to wait for the next post.

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