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Chalakudi – Mangalapuram Super fast express!

The weekend was fast approaching and with only one more area pending under the belt, it was only proper that a home coming was etched on the cards. Thursday, the 16th, found me at a travel agency on my way back from work for a ticket back home. Being a person who dislikes a seater, that I am, much to my dislike, I found the only sleeper that was available had no lower berth. What’s more before I could even give a thought about upper berth, I was told all sleeper seats are already booked. That left me with no other option but to go for a non-sleeper bus. So I found myself booking a seat in a Volvo scheduled to depart at 10:15, the following night. Its wonderful how fast a day can run by when you have something exciting up your sleeves. It was already late in the evening, that time of the day when I was scheduled to leave. So I have a taxi waiting to drop me to the pick up spot.

I reach the stop early, enquire and find, the bus would be on time, and I get that feeling something is not right. Yeah that very feeling you get when everything goes by without a hitch. Ok, no. I didn’t have any of that feeling. It was just to make the write up a little more authored than a journal. *That call compare happening in the back ground is a little disturbing. Coming to think of it, I am reminded of the flight attendants’ announcements that comprise of the music at the airports. Well, I can’t ask them to shut up. So I have to endure it. Err.. No, you will have to endure my passing comments, every now and then, if they happen to come by.* I was on the phone, speaking of course, when a car comes down vroom and brakes in front of the travel bureau. Somebody steps out, mafia style and walks in to speak with the travel agent. A heated argument begins and the next moment we have Bam! Bam! Two shots fired, one man down, probably dead. The mafia styled man, walks out, finding me on the phone, pauses for a while, decides to poke his dirty nose anyway and does it. *Because of that activity thing I told you was going on in the back ground, I found myself changing tracks and with the influence of the action novels or movies, I can’t say, well, no! I can. It’s the novels. You see, I like thriller novels a lot, so they obviously tend to impact my writing. What I meant to convey is that, that last part about the shots fired and stuff was a bluff. Yeah, you can read that again, minus the masala. Excuse me? I hope you can recognize the masala btw.*

The gentleman asks me if I was also on the bus going to Mangalore, for which I reply in the affirmative. I find out that the bus which a few minutes back was scheduled was now cancelled due to a break down. *The work break down reminds me of a game called trans. Its short for transport tycoon, a game where you are heading a transport corporation and stuff. The relevance? Not necessarily one. I just remembered it, felt like scribbling about, did. Does that bother you? Ok. As a consolation, it had vehicles which broke down when they got old, or well, every once in a while for that matter.* I was void of feeling for a while and my first response was how could that happen. The ex-mafia could have said, ‘Are you an idiot or what? Didn’t I tell you it broke down?’ But thankfully he didn’t. The agent interrupted with the repeat reason. *ah! Wait. This ain’t that bullshit crap you used to read every time you saw a star and by now have probably decided on skipping the stars for lack of content and context. Well, let me warn you, you shalt miss some very important stuff if you miss this, which you obviously have, if you aren’t reading this. So now that I have convinced you, this stuff within the star is not nonsense, I can freely write my mind again. Whew! Oh no! wait! My mind doesn’t have all this. I work hard making it up. I have to rack my brains for the variety and the hidden syllables. It quite interesting how easily you can write faltu stuff, though. Just as easily as I can make up my making it. Ok. The main reason I drew the star in the first place was that I wanted to portray some of my immediate internal reactions, when everything else popped up. No. Ok, yes. Well lets leave the emotions to the inside, for I am not able to search for them now. Err.. I don’t even know where to search actually. So to the story, gentlemen, shall we? Now, you women folk, please don’t take offence, I mean none. Just penning.*
‘I have to be there tomorrow’ *Sorry for the early break, but if that last line meant foreign, go back a little and reread. You can skip the stars this time around.*
‘You just have to be there, if I don’t, I will be losing a lakh and half.’ *Now that was certainly filmy.*
‘So what do you intend to do?’ ‘I am going to the airport to see any flights are available.’
Having nothing else to do, I try again with the agent. I ask him if there is any other bus. No. Any other means of transport at all. No. The following morning. No. How far would the nearest airport be. No. oh sorry, don’t know. *I think he probably didn’t know proper english. Now since I didn’t speak malayalam we were feeding bouncers to each other.* He asks me for the ticket. I hand it over in exchange for six of those soiled papers people call currency.

I find recluse in my translator, my field senior as a matter of fact. He comes down, babbles with the agent. #@*%%& *#&%*@ *$%&$@&% #@*%&$@& @*$&%*$@ 4*% $*%& $*&%*$# *$#&%*$# $&#%*$& *One, the conversation was in malayali. Two, its written in short hand. So don’t mind if find it illegible. For those of you who happen to know malayali and short hand, but still find it illegible, please be sensible, I don’t understand it.* Five minutes later we walk down to the KSRTC bus station to find if we have any bus going to Mangalore. Surprise. Surprise. We had one. A dakota bus which was scheduled at 11. A super fast passenger express. *I didn’t know the goods carriers were also called buses. Probably so in Kerala. I think.* It was a complete no no for me. I agree wanted to go home badly but not in that bus please. Fifteen minutes later, we were walking on the national highway a bag on the back, a suitcase in the hand. *If you want narration for that fifteen min gap too, then you will have to contact me in person, for with the summary view itself I am losing my readers every second star. So please.* The hotel people showed some pity on us for having required to walk back all the way and of course for missing the bus. I asked if they could find out if there was any flight to Mangalore the following morning, which due to being late, couldn’t be found then, but the following day replied saying none was available for the day.

Having no other choice I went back to the work place. On the way, I found out due to rains and water on the tracks, a lot of trains had been cancelled. *Whats happening with me. You will soon find out, shut up!* I reached the place and found that there was a train that left at 12 in the noon and reached at 8:30 in the night. It was acceptable with me. However the ticket was a problem. Being a weekend, that it was, no tickets were available and general class would be no better substitute for a market. So that left one way. Road. Bus. I was told, I could get a bus to Calicut from where I could probably get a bus to Kasargod or Mangalore. It would take about 3 hrs to reach Calicut and then another 5 to Mangalore, more or less. I made the math. It was 10:15 in the morning, so I could probably reach by 7 at the latest. It would be good. I agreed. A few minutes later I was gives a route map, reading which I got a feeling it was going to be a long one ahead. *No faking this time.* It read Chalakudi —> Kozhikode —> Kannur —> Kasargod —> Mangalapuram. *Before I take the journey for a second time, I thought I would get my self a cup of black lemon tea. I walk to the vending machine only to find it asking for the boiler to be filled. Now that’s fail, isnt it. Is it necessary for me to re endure something to recount the experience? For a no, I could go to the opposite wing and get one, but that would be another journey, and I am lazy. After all I am going through a very long journey you see.*

10:30 AM
Chalakudi KSRTC Bus station
I found there was no bus going to Kannur, but there was one to Calicut in 10 mins.*I forgot to mention the other route told to me. Just permutation combination.* As I sat waiting for the bus with our driver, who was kind enough to sit with me until I boarded, I found that the although the buses had boards reading the places they went to, they were all in Malayali! I knew the next stops would call for some trouble with the bus recognition, if the same situation carried forward there too. The driver announced the arrival of the bus and I got into it. I got myself a ticket to Calicut and settled down. I had got a seat on those three seats and since it was going to be a long one, I wanted a window seat. I found the conductor sitting besides the window and went up to him and asked him if I could sit there. It was the same gibberish again. I would understand none of it. I tried thrice in different ways, but to no avail. It just wasn’t happening. So I just went and sat next to him. He again said something, probably something to do with my back pack, but since I wasn’t going to understand I just ignored it. Another reason to ignore was that it contained a few things I could classify as things money can’t buy. An hour or so later, the crowd thinned and I shifted to a double seat where I had the whole thing to myself. It was supposed to be a three hour journey, but it ended up taking another hour and half more! I was hungry. I was tired. I was at Calicut. It was fifteen past three in the noon.

I walked across the bus station at Calicut and found a help desk, only to find the enquiry about the buses going to Mangalore would on the other end, the place where I came from. There are time when you just need to do things with no other choice. This was one. *That reminds me of an audit where I had to redo a work paper three times before I could save it from being corrupted. **Some lady in the background just opened a perfume bottle or perhaps applied some, whatever, its got a good smell. I forgot my cup of tea.** What happened was it involved a lot of areas to work upon and by the time I was finished with, it somehow got corrupted. Bad times.* I reached the other enquiry only to find there was no bus either to Kasargod or Mangalore. But I could get one to Kannur. Where? It would at the other end! *This is getting on my nerves man! Really. How fair is it to make you walk all the way across a bus station not once but thrice. Fail.* My stomach was growling. Being a big place that Calicut is, I was hoping for a junk food stall somewhere so that I could save some time, but bah! That wasn’t going to happen. So I made my way to a hotel which housed the restaurant on the the third floor, with no lift. I walked in to find the lights were dimmed and it was more a bar than restaurant. I found myself a place and when the waiter came asked what was available. Chapati, parota, fried rice. Anything else? Chapati, parota, fried rice. *Nut case.* I asked him what could he serve me along with it. Chicken fried rice…. I am vegetarian. Then veg fried rice. *Seriously nuts.* Do you have any dry items? Veg. Gobi Manchurian. Ok. Get me one VEG fried rice and a gobi manchurian. Yeah that would be all. A few minutes later, I was served a bowl of rice and a plate of something. I had to stare at the plate long and hard to ensure it was indeed what I had ordered. Since I was hungry, I gobbled up the first half without even realizing what I was having. However, since the first half did some filling work I realized what I now was having and also how good it was. I left the remaining, paid the bill and left.

3:50 PM
It was better than the KSRTC bus, however it was no bus to travel long journeys. Yet, did I have any choice? No boss, I didn’t. So there I was on some bus enroute Kannur.*Hey! I am back. Oh sorry! You are still here. I know you didn’t realize, but I took a break. Actually my collogues found it pretty interesting that I was still at the office with nothing to do but scribble. They felt it was good for me to enjoy a little, so I left the office early which meant I shut my notepad. **My laptop, if you didn’t follow.** Anyway, I am back again. Oh yeah, the airport musing I kept mentioning, its shut down. So you can let out a sigh of relief, for, I won’t be mentioning it anymore. But, yeah everything comes with a catch these days, no? This ain’t no exception either. That is to say, I am listening to some music, and I have this side effect while listening to music, as in, I get reminded of previous moments that I was in when I last heard the songs. So if you thought the airport musing was going be bad, this is going to be worse. Enjoy anyway :P* *Sorry. Just found out India won. Heard it in the back ground. So thought I would mention. A time mark, it would help me sometime later, if ever I were to need it.** Actually the post would be showing the date and time of posting, but still.. Chumma. *** Company effect. Its tamil/telugu/malayali for simply*** ** *

I had made up my mind to enjoy the journey, no prejudice allowed. I tried my best doing it. Every now and then, I was able to spend some time sleeping, but again the slightest of the disturbance would have me up and alert, a brake, a slight touch by a co-passenger, a passing by vehicle honking, whatever.. So it was pretty much, I was mentally awake all the while. So when I wasn’t doing this activity of physically sleeping, I indulged myself in the beauty that was passing by me. Once again, I badly missed my camera. *Once again and badly? Looks wrong, but screw grammar dude, I was missing my camera, not a english grammar book.* *Sorry for getting directly to the once again part without the first part. It will follow sometime soon, I promise.* We crossed some beaches by the roadside. The tides seemed to be on the high. There were beautiful sit-outs, restaurants by the beach, sadly, I was in the bus with no time to stop by. Just as we were done with the shoreline and greeted by some city streets, the rains made their first presence. I immediately shut the window, but the window wouldn’t shut completely. Good, I thought, at least I was getting some cool air helping me drift miles away from the locale language, when the second person, half sitting next to me jumped in to help me, no so called help me close the window. Ok. Lets go back a little so that I can narrate about this character that sat next to me. I was getting tired of having my kid on my lap and since the bus was crowded enough, she never had the opportunity to get off my laps and just when the crowd fell, and I was relaxing with her next to me, this character popped up and of all empty places had to choose the one next to me. *Stop! By speaking of that kid of mine, I meant my heavy duty back pack which is heavy enough to weigh as much as a kiddo. So cut that thought you were exploring. P.S. She is beautiful though :P*

Not long into the journey, he stared with his gibberish. I was lightning fast to tell him I didn’t speak gibberish. Hindi? Yeah. I am good. He spoke about this and that. 99% gibberish and 1% english/hindi/gibberish mix. Yeah that was the mix he used. To add to the fun, a stop later, his friend/colleague/relative/acquaint/whoever happened to get in and our character immediately jumped on. Gibberish….. Gibberish… gibberish.. (sit down) *You can’t be serious dude! This is a two seater!* No no.. Its ok. I am good standing..(all in gibberish *After a while you begin to understand anything*) Sit. I insist. Ok. *I am not going to move. No way. You can share your space, no mine. **If I knew you were so willing to share, I would have had my kid take your lap. Oh no, I couldn’t do it could I? no. I didn’t either.** * And the gibberish communal begins. I remember something and dive in. *I remembered reading a novel where the character, to stay away from pain imagines himself to be happy and all that relaxing stuff. You got it right, if you did. I imagined myself back home, eating dosa and that special mushroom curry, mom-made. Happy. Relaxed. No gibberish. Yeah no gibberish. None at all.* It helped.

6:40 PM
I was at the Kannur TT bus station.
I was lucky to find a help desk nearby this time round. By near by I mean, near the bus I was to board. From the place of drop, it was the same old story again. The luck wore out soon, when I asked the person about going to Mlore, only to find out that there were no buses going to Mlore. Kasargod? Yeah there are quite a few. That way. I board a bus, one which the driver is yet to board, which goes to say, the departure is still a good 15-20 mins away. So I get down, wash my face and wipe it, thus coating my hanky with a nice layer of black dirt. I did feel bad for having dirtied it, but then, I really felt fresh. My psychological therapy was working and I was good to start again as if it were the first. *Ok. No. I am in the mood to write sense, so nope. Nothing.* Thirty minutes, the driver climbed in. Ten minutes later, the engine chimed and the wheels began to roll. The light were going down and the visibility was going from worst to nil. I gave up appreciating the streets, for I could no longer see them. All I felt was a chilly breeze blowing against my face. I needed it to keep myself alert and fresh. Every now and then, the bus went into a city station to pick up some more passengers. The bus was soon more than full, with more people standing than sitting. The one thing that meant was I again had my lap busy and it was not doing anything to help me relax. The spacing was cramped. My legs were beginning to burn. I kept shifting in my place to keep some movement and that someway helped, or I was so badly in need of some recluse that I thought it did. The timing between stops gradually began increasing until a time when it was so worse that I was reminded of the local city buses. It was nine in the night and I was still forty kilometers away from Kasargod. Ninety odd, from Mangalore. *I hate saying Mangalapuram.*

A hundred and sixty odd, from home. To add to the woes, I found from my kind co-passenger that, with the way we were going, we would take another hour and half to reach destination. I also found there was a train from Kannur at 7 that would reach kasargod by 8:30. *Seriously, those are the last things you want to hear, but it was what I did.* I satisfied myself by saying the trains were out of schedule due to the rains and there could be no surety of it. Was it true? I didn’t want to know. *If you know, don’t you dare tell me.* The only recluse came in the form of a phone call saying my family who was supposed to pick me up from Mangalore, would now pick me up form Kasargod, for they got to know the last bus to mlore was at 9:30, thirty minutes away, one and hour journey away. The crowd soon started thinning. The city bus attitude continued. I wondered what the whole point of naming the bus limited stop, if every stop was a limited stop and every bus was a limited stop one. I was beginning to get irritated. I found my phone ringing. Found out that my family was long at the destination. I hated it even more now. I would have liked me waiting. But no. They had to wait for me. It was fuel for irritation. I was hungry. Or I wasn’t. I can’t be sure. All the same, to divert attention, I started nibbling on an apple I had in my bag. It didn’t do much good but my hunger, it was present alright, got a little satisfied. I tried sleeping but even that wasn’t happening. I was probably beginning to feel sick. I wanted to fight it all.
Twelve hours back, I had decided on it. But now, I wasn’t sure at all. I had begun with a sack load of patience and now I was feeling the bottom of the sack being scraped off. I didn’t know where I was or how much further away, I was. I could easily ask, but I was in no mood to do so. It was time for some control. I tried relaxing. Breathing the fresh air, no even that wasn’t being good now. The chill had turned harsh. I closed it. I was feeling suffocating. Opened up a little. A few deep breaths did a bit of help. A while later, I heard the call for the last stop. I picked up my luggage, checked on everything, got down. Asked directions to the place I was told to come to, which happened to just across the road. *How cool. Now that journey was over, everything was so nearby.* Just when I was half way across the road, I heard my dad call for me. I felt all the tiredness drain. I dropped my luggage in the car. Moments later, I was ready for another journey, the last for the day.

God knows what time it was, surely a lot past ten thirty, I was heading back, munching on those very dishes I dreamt of a few hours back. Truthfully, I was no longer feeling tired. A reunion coupled with excellent mouth licking food did the trick. It was all loud talk that followed. After an initial description and discussion about the journey, it was left to that.

1:05 AM
I was opening the gates of my house. A while later I was having a late dinner, a very one late in that.

2:00 AM
I was on the bed, wide awake.

10:25 AM
I was walking to start the day.

*I am back. Myself. No. Won’t be bothering you. Serious stuff. You might be feeling a lot of thing now. Have something to say? Don’t think. Comment. Well, coming again, think again if you thought of writing gibberish!*

3 Responses to “Chalakudi – Mangalapuram Super fast express!”

  1. Mukesh Kini says:

    Just Tremendous writing :) Loved every bit of it! But yu missed the AWESOME driver who drove yu back from kasargod 😛 😛


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