Sunday, August 3, 2014

Trave(l)ogged – Bus vs. Train.

Trave (l) ogged – Bus vs. Train.

So there I was standing in the middle of nowhere wondering where I had come from and where I was going. All the buses looked the same to me and for the life of me I couldn’t remember which one I had to board to continue my journey onwards. Now before you conclude that I had conked my head and had gone all screwed-up mentally let me start again from the beginning.

In the best traditions of storytelling….In the beginning there was the transfer when I stripped screaming from the bosom of my dear family and sent away- to a galaxy far far away to what I am used to. Now working away from my hometown has made poor old stay-at-home me into an itinerant traveler who is always on the go- at least on weekends. After spending all week in work town, I feel the tremendous urge to get away from it all at least during the weekends. Which means that every weekend I hop on to a bus at the end of the workday (around noon on Saturdays and reach my hometown by late evening. I repeat the journey the next day- but in the opposite direction. So you could say that my weekends are spent pretty much on the road, on the go. I come home to just sleep off Saturday night, have large Sunday brunch and am soon back on the bus heading back to where I came from just 12 hours ago. 

If you ask me whether it’s worth it? Hell yeah there’s nothing more boring than spending a Sunday in a cramped lodge room in a faraway place where you know no one else- at least no one who would be willing to spend the weekend talking to you. Compared to that a bus journey is far more interesting. The only thing is after umpteen number of times travelling to-and fro on the same route you kinda get a sense of déjà vu sometimes. This is how I found myself standing there – outside a motel wondering where I am and where I was going to- in the short term- my immediate place of travel and in the long term- well, my place of travel too. Deep deep thoughts right? 

And as to my confusions- well, you gotta blame the Omni buses for that. All those long distance travel buses, the Volvos, look the same especially when you stick to travelling by the same service provider for booking both the up and down tickets. In addition to which they all stop at the same highway around the halfway mark somewhere beyond and between Tindivanam and Trichy. So when you get down at the motel, go in and have a cuppa tea and come outside you are bound to get slightly disoriented about whether the green color bus you have to board is this one or this one- as they both look identical and both are parked side by side. The only way to decide is to see the date- if it’s Saturday, it’s this one- going up and if it’s Sunday- it’s the other one – going back. And god help you, if you get it wrong- you basically end up travelling a 150 kms to have a single tea and then going back to where you started from.

I know what you are thinking- why doesn’t he take a train? - There is no chance of getting lost on a train right? But have you ever tried booking a ticket on a weekend train on short notice? Especially once they started the option of internet booking. Seems all the tickets are booked the minute the booking opens up- I don’t know who odes it or why- but I have my suspicions and the only way to get a train ticket nowadays (in the internet era) is to go visit a travel agent and pay a high premium (a bribe) for pre-booked tickets. Honest travelers never stand a chance to get one at ticket counters nowadays- one more instance of how only crooks in India benefit from facilities provided for the common man.

On the rare occasions that I have managed to get myself a ticket for an overnight train – its quite a sight waking up in the morning to a glorious sunrise and a long and never ending stretch of bare bottoms as you head towards Chennai- I guess the primitive tribes on the outskirts of Chennai have this bizarre religious ritual of showing their bare asses to the big metal monster thundering by their homes. And if the shit doesn’t get you- the “akkas” will. By whom I mean the transgender who board the train nearabouts Chennai and rudely wake you up from sleep and leering towards you- in your half asleep mode- demand to be paid money or they will make the start of your day interesting by stripping in front of you. Rather than being scarred for life by such a strip-show, you would rather fork over the dough if they will just go away and let you sleep till you get to Chennai central station. 

With such interesting attractions to a train travel, now do you wonder why I prefer to take a bus up and down? I would rather risk déjà vu than one more early morning darshan of a defecating bare bottom to wake up to – no shit.

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