Skip to main content

A horse with no name

One of the less pleasurable aspects of reaching Pune is the traveling, particularly road journeys. Thanks to the inflexible work schedule, it's impossible for me to hop on to one of the regular intercity trains from Bombay, leaving only the MSRTC buses or Cool Cabs. The taxis require you to have either 3 other travellers or an infinite amount of patience so they're usually not an option, leaving only the bus.

To be fair, the Shivneri buses are usually dependable and my only grouse is the increasingly princely sum of the ticket. However, dependability and comfort are of little use in Bombay's famed traffic, which is a doozy on Friday nights and long weekends, when everyone and their uncles seem to be frantically scooting out of the city. This was the case on the Independence Day weekend too.

Reaching the bus depot, I was faced with a queue of at least 100 people, all of whom had a resigned "FML" look on their faces. I got talking with the guy standing before me and found that he was travelling with his mother, who was wisely cooling her heels in the AC Waiting Room. I suggested we find a 4th person and share a cab, which he agreed to after much hemming & hawing. He then went off to explain the situation to his mom and didn't show up for half an hour. Figuring his mom had other ideas, I continued my vigil, only to have someone tap me on the shoulder. It was another guy standing behind me, also travelling with his mom, who wanted to share a cab.

We found a 4th person and headed for the cab rank, only to meet Son number 1 with his mother in tow. Ram & Lakhan then agreed that it would be an even better idea if the two Mom-Son combos travelled together, leaving me out of the loop. To add insult to injury, one of them asked me to accompany them to the taxi booking office, probably because the large, garish Mumbai-Pune Taxi Association sign was well camouflaged by his idiocy. A little while later, I was back in the line, only for another set of 3 guys to inquire if I wanted to share a cab. Making sure there weren't any mums in the mix, we went to the booking point, where the employee phlegmatically informed us that there wasn't a taxi available for love or money.

I shuffled back into the queue, even as the other guys disappeared to make alternate arrangements, and waited as 4 buses slowly and sheepishly attempted to make their way to the station through the unholy mess that passes itself off as the Sion-Trombay road. Misery tends to bring people together and that day was no different. A girl standing in line, who would normally not have acknowledged my existence, began to chat about the situation in an effort to assuage her own worries about getting to Pune. A young man who'd been casual-flirting with the girl all evening, began to crack jokes and make ribald statements. Unfortunately for him, she indicated that there was someone waiting for her in Pune so he gave up the ghost and we moved on to discussing the sorry bus situation. While we complained and boasted about how long we'd been waiting, he casually let slip that he and his family had waited at Surat train station for 2 days in 2002... during the chaos of the riots. It was a sobering moment, I'll admit. We then moved on to other topics, such as what he was studying in college, what he wanted to do, yada, yada, yada.

As usual, the Peter Pan effect meant I was asked which college I attended and was forced to gently shatter their illusions. Jaws were picked up and we continued talking, for no other reason except that it made the wait somewhat bearable. Eventually, after 3.5 hours in queue, I got a ticket and climbed into the bus. Even though the 3 of us were seated next to each other, we had nothing left to say... nothing we wanted to say. Perhaps the moment of forced camaraderie was over. Everyone dozed off and I plugged in the headphones and stared away into the night. At 4 am, the bus dropped me off at my stop and I considered the fact that from office to home, it'd taken me more than 8 hours. Quite a trip.

Song for the moment: Ask the lonely - Journey


Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Last of my kind

(This post hasn't come out as well as I wanted. But I'm still pissed off, so.)

Why do we have heroes? What is it about someone that triggers a decision to nail our colours to their mast? I don't have a neat answer so what you read from here on is both an explanation and an exploration. In a post-modern world driven by counter-points, certainty is a luxury.

I missed the boat when it came to India's ODI cricket madness. We moved abroad in the late 80s. When I left, my friends and I wanted to be Kapil, Kris or Sunil. When I returned, god was getting comfortable on his heavenly couch and all was right with a world I did not recognise. I had missed Sachin's opening batsman debut against New Zealand, the hullabaloo of the Hero Cup and other notable moments. So, I was interested in cricket, not any particular sportsman. Not even during the '96 World Cup. When India muffed it against Sri Lanka, I hurt for the team, not for a player.

Then came Dravid. And, personally, …

Drink up and be somebody

Dear Reader,

History will boldly testify that your favourite blogger is usually slow on the uptake, a state of affairs that's blooming with each passing year like a reverse-Revital. "Why this self-harshness, G", you may ask? Well...

I've been doing the Bom-Pune-Bom trips for 9 years and it's taken about that long to accept that MSRTC Shivneri, still the best bus service of them all, simply cannot (or, realistically, will not) cope with 3-day weekends. Since my job profile does not allow me to plan my travel in advance on said Fridays, I land up at Dadar, view the queue of potential passengers snaking a long way from the ticket window and mentally prepare to arrive home at the hour of morning reserved for sheepish teenagers and dacoits. The Expressway doesn't help anyone's cause thanks to truck drivers spreading themselves generously across 3 lanes and clogging the Lonavala pass to a point where the traffic jam is about 3 km long. A stretch that would tak…