Monday, March 03, 2008

Terror Trips: 1

Terror Trips – Bangalore Bruises (Part 1)
This story runs into 2 parts. Link for Part 2 >>

This was the fourth time in last six months – every time with more commitment to make it more organized and fruitful the next time and, evidently, ending up doing exactly opposite. This story is about my last trip to Chennai from Bangalore.

First time, in September, Chennai Central railway station 4 o’clock in the morning Saturday, I had no idea what to do – one thing I knew that I had to go to Bangalore today, at any cost. I was lucky got Shatabdi express at six.
Returning was the same. Sunday, Clueless on Majestic bus stop Bangalore. A cunning broker gunned me down for twice of the cost for a private bus seat. I took countless big red etching spots all over my body as a souvenir for one full week by bed-bugs provided by the bus service.
‘Organize the next time’, I decided.

Second time, first week of December, coming back from Mysore trip, I cut short the trip detoured to Bangalore while coming back. I reached there with very foul feeling in my stomach.
Returning ticket was at quarter to twelve on Sunday. Unclear whether I’d get a bus at that much late night from the place where I stayed (which is a remote area), so I left the place at nine and reached at the station at ten. Rest hundred and five minutes I kept on counting – counting number of pillars on the platform, counting numbers of LEDs in the big digital watch etc.

Third time, December end, perfect plan – got up and down journey tickets reserved by bus. Came by bus without any warm clothes, at morning 5 o’clock I reached to Bangalore almost half dead by cold. I had two glasses of hot tea before starting from bus stop to Nihar’s place.
While returning, surprisingly, I lost the return ticket and when reached to the bus stop (without ticket), I found the bus stop was too confusing that when I got to the place where the bus stands it had already left ten minutes ago. Withdrew money from and overly crowded ATM, re-reserved in next bus which came seventy five minutes later.

The fourth time – this time I have got up and down train reservation one week in advance which was in waiting but had got confirmed by the journey day. Left office at 7:30, planned to catch a bus from nearby bus stop to my place at 08:30. I thought that I had too much time, but I was panic before I could reach to my place. It was 08:30, I had not packed yet. There was no guarantee that I would get a bus from the nearest bus stop (from my place) for the railway station. And even if I got one, I wouldn’t be able to get the train which was scheduled to leave at 09:30 at night.

Sijju Joy came to rescue. I asked him if he would be able to ride me up to the train station in ‘FIFTY’ minutes. He misunderstood it with ‘fifteen’ minutes and took it as a challenge and asked me keep watch of the time.

Chennai roads were very busy and full of one-ways that makes a rule following excellent bike driver to take a minimum of thirty minutes to reach from my place to the station.

Sijju told me that if there is no traffic police he would do all the malpractice to make the trip shorter than fifteen minutes duration. Then he started. He saved times by turning using smaller radius at higher speed and at highest possible inclination, sometime by jumping over red light which was green a moment ago, some other time by overtaking the vehicles from wrong side, some time by escaping from very narrow gap between two vehicles and sometime just by shouting on the preceding rider for neither riding fast nor giving pass. And once he drove through a one way from wrong side.

I was sure that the ride was going to end well within fifteen minutes. At the end of fifteen minutes either we would be dead or on the station – in any case Sijju was going to keep the promise of making the trip within 15 minutes.

I reached safely with my heart exploding inside my rib cage. Thanked Sijju for helping me out in such an odd time. (And also for not killing me)

Returning was weird. It was GP’s job treat – Barbeque Nation Hotel, enjoyed, overate and at the end of the dinner we realized that returning to Nihar’s place, packing and then running to rail station by bus would be a sure shot method to get late for the return train. So, Nihar triple rode – GP and I were looking curiously for any traffic police who could catch us, so that Nihar could strategically run away. We reached back Nihar’s place safely.

When I got the bus from Nihar’s place to railway station, it was five minutes to eleven. The train was at 11:45; and in general it takes more than an hour for a bus to reach from Nihar’s place to train station. It may take fifty minutes or less because it was night – I thought for a moment and then, instead of abandoning the journey, I took the risky decision to take bus and try and fail (or pass). Bus ran unexpectedly fast and I was there at the closest bus stop to railway station at 11:36 as the station’s tower clock said. I was yet around half a kilometer away from the station.

If you haven’t seen me recently, you can assume me as a plastic bag full of jelly, the way you think blob may look like or perhaps boneless cheek flesh stuffed in closed skin. And note that sports and me are antithesis. Now this piece of utterly lazy meat was in pathetic condition. I was in a sport challenge without practice. The distance that I take 30 minutes to cross, I had only nine. I jumped from the bus and was confused because I didn’t jump where the stop is, I jumped before it to save time, to make short cut but the place seemed to nowhere connecting to the way to the station. I ran in Brownian motion, sticking from all possible knowledgeable blokes in my circle of visibility – in the same manner nucleophile searches for a positive rich site in an organic reaction. Finally started running towards the way where the bus would have gone had I not jumped out of that. Reached to the place where bus was stopped. I got it. Yeah. This was the subway that connects bus stop to the station.

11:39 tower clock said. ‘Now I would go through it to reach the other-side – the railway station side. But wait. Remember? The last time when you came here it was closed half the way. No I wouldn’t take risk. I would use the flyover and then cross the road. But it is rule violation. Let’s risk it. I had nothing to lose.’ I thought these things in nanoseconds or perhaps picoseconds whatever.

Read part 2 >>

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