“Bas Babaji ab aur excitement mat dena is raat main..bilkul boring bana do is raat ko” (Oh God, no more thrill/excitment for tonight. Its time for this night to get Boring.)
When I first saw Jab We Met, little did I know that some five years later I would find myself in a situation akin to Kareena Kapoor- missing train followed by an ongoing series of contretemps. This post is an account of the same and from now on I will refer to me and my friends as,
- Ms. Google Maps- an unchallenged clarity with ways
- Ms. Optimist- always looking at the brighter side
- Ms Quiet- she absolutely loathes road travel
- Ms. Blogger- Me
Last December the four friends had planned a short trip to Chandigarh after their exams got over and as the fateful day drew closer their exuberance had found another level. Imagine, from a fat ‘Democracy and Governance’, book all they could gauge was perhaps the title itself, because their brains were busy planning about Chandigarh. With a smile reaching the either corners of her face and sporting her brand new three-inch wedge sandals (partly because she still had not grabbed a chance to wear them and partly because she was having trouble fitting them in her bag), Ms. Blogger walked down to her college, from where she was to depart for the New Delhi Railway Station. At this juncture she had committed three mistakes, something that the night will make her regret
- the wedges
- a white sweatshirt ( I know right, what kind of nutcase wears white while travelling?)
- they were running a little late (Not late per se, but she is someone who reaches the station an hour prior to the departure)
Tucked in a cab, all of them were happily chit-chatting, a sight straight out of a Suraj Barjatya movie, sans the music of course. A midst the banter Ms. Blogger poked fun at Ms. Google Maps. Had it been any other day she would have been all “right back at you”, instead that day she chose to be quiet and angry. Right then the cab driver took a wrong turn. Ms. Google Maps pointed out that he should have taken a left but since she was angry and he was very confident, she gave in.
After some 25 minutes later as they stood close the Yamuna Bridge, the driver sheepishly admitted that indeed he had taken a wrong turn. 11 minutes on hand and Delhi’s notorious traffic and ubiquitous red light signals, they had the insurmountable task of reaching Central Delhi from East Delhi. Caught in the middle of Ms Google Maps rebuking the Cab Driver, Ms. Optimist living up to her name and affirming that miracles happen and Ms. Quiet praying for some heavenly assistance and at the same time resolving that she will never hire a cab, somehow they did reach the station with like 60 seconds left for the train to depart. They hired coolies, surrendered them their humongous four bags and ran madly from the 16th platform to the first platform (of course, our Ms. Blogger was bare-feet holding her wedges in hand); only to see the train departing.
Now it was time for them to assess their options, they couldn’t go back to the hostel, would have been plain depressing. Next hiring a cab- four girls on 300 km ride alone in a cab is perhaps every parent’s nightmare in India. Thus leaving them with the only alternative of taking a bus. Taking an auto to Kashmiri Gate would have been complete foolishness given the miserable traffic in evening, so they walked down to the 16th platform from the 1st platform and then to the Ajemeri Gate Metro Station. If you look at the Metro Map, you would think Ajmeri Gate to Kashmiri Gate is like a cakewalk but it awaits you with so much more in store- jam-packed coaches, oxygen exuding a stink of sweat and you move in and out with a mob absolutely with no sense of direction.
Once they reached Kashmiri Gate, Ms. Blogger realized that her feet had been tormented enough and all they wanted was to feel the flat surface, so the wedges went straight into the bag, where they rightfully belonged that day. They found the ticket queue for Chandigarh volvo bus and gaily stood there thinking that all their turmoil had perhaps come to and end. A while later they took notice that the queue wasn’t moving ahead, Ms. Blogger walked down to the front and inquired about it. To their utter horror the tickets for the 7:30 volvo had already been sold out and the next volvo was scheduled for 10:30. Five minutes later they were all sitting in a local bus. The thing with local buses is that as far as your room heating/cooling whims go, you are at the hands of Mother Nature, they are claustrophobic plus noisy and often they don’t befit the image of a safe journey that an Indian girl’s parents foresee.
In a tiff with her parents over the ‘unsafe’ travel choices, Ms. Optimist had lost all hope (something which is a rare sight with her) and engaged herself in filling out an internship, which had to be sent by midnight. Ms. Quiet had finally chosen to break the silence and make it a little clearer that she abhors road travel. And Ms. Google Maps was somehow trying to contain her qualms (again a rare sight) and in her mind was thinking about the delicious home cooked food she was being bereaved of, for another five hours. Ms. Blogger was worried about her sore feet, amazed at her parents for being totally chilled out on listening about the day’s mishaps and suddenly as she sensed the contraction in her throat- she realized that she was going to fall ill and her medicines were kept safely in her cupboard.
A little farther from the Delhi Bypass, the bus hit a car, yes it did. While Ms. Blogger painted a mental image of the four of them stranded on the highway, thankfully the driver settled the whole issue amicably.
Halfway through, the bus took a short halt near a dhaba primarily for the passengers to stack up refreshments. Ms. Google Maps and Ms. Quiet got coffee and chips for the four of them but none of them realized that they were travelling without water. As the engine roared and the bus moved ahead Ms. Blogger and Ms. Optimist dropped their coffee cups on themselves.Ms. Optimist suffered in pain- a pain so strong, which neither water nor cold metal nor chilling winds at the onset of North-Indian winters could appease. And about Ms. Blogger, her agony was not caused by the burns. Remember the white sweatshirt, anyone? A huge coffee stain on the right and the sweatshirt looked white on one hand and a biscuit like shade on the other.
As she sat helplessly in the middle of Ms. Optimist who for once had no bright side to look at and Ms. Quiet who thought that the road travel was the root cause of our predicament, and facing Ms. Google Maps who was caught between strengthening hunger pangs and a search for cold objects (for Ms. Optimist’s help), Ms. Blogger repeated the same lines, that she had once heard Kareena speak on the 70 mm screen, “Bas Babaji ab aur excitement mat dena is raat main..bilkul boring bana do is raat ko.”