Travel. A small word holding huge trouble. Whether it is an overnight flight to the Gulf or a rickety ride in two-wheeler to the nearest grocery shop, we love to travel- bindaas. Without hiccups. Without itching to hit the person snoring next to us in an overnight train. Without churning out the last eaten dosas out of our stomachs as the glutton sharing the aisle seat dumps his 6th drink. We love to travel, with no trouble. We are so meticulous in planning the bus ride for 2 kilometers that would put India's Chandrayaan journey look cake walk.
Securing that coveted 'window' seat is everyone's dream. A dream pricier than marrying Aishwarya rai. If you are wedded to someone who is a 'nature lover' who ogles on the corner seat more than he/she ever looked at you, your journeys are definitely going to be in the aisle seat, glued to the iPad. If you have a child, you are going to baby-sit in the middle seat, sandwiched between the snoring husband and the animated child. If you have two children, bless your hearts dears, you are going to be the acting referee for a multi-round WWF match between the two for the 'corner seat'.
Seat secured, luggage secured, the next thing we have to secure is our torso. If you travel with family, the job is easier, it is again a normal night at bed, you being kicked, scratched and nudged by the husband dear and the children. If you travel alone, beware of that lady sitting near you who has ten liters of oil plastered to her 3 inches of hair. She will dutifully rub it all on your favorite white kurta and you can very well go home, wring your kurta for that month's oil reserve. Be careful of the male of the species, they are particularly headstrong in sleeping on the journey, rolling their heads on your shoulders and you become unfortunate 'Atlases' holding their heads. Only you wish you became Medusa that instant, snakes hissing from your head to ward off the sleepy douche bag near you.
The next thing you have to take care is your privacy and sanity. Train journeys are to be dreaded here, especially the sleeper classes that teem with senior citizens who are hell bent in knowing the where, how, when, why and what of your travel agenda. Shut your eyes, insert your head phone, or bury your nose in that proverbial Sydney Sheldon, the 60 plus aunty in the lower berth is never going to leave you alone. She starts with a seemingly obnoxious question of what time the train is supposed to reach Chennai. By the next ten minutes, you will find yourself telling her the story of how your fourth cousin's second wife's third child ran away with a no-gooder. Are men better? Nah. The questions asked are so deft that by the time you disembark, the wicked man would have pocketed your office address or mobile number.
Then there is the biggest of all troubles- everyone intent on travelling love to bathe in sweat and use that eau-de-cologne that smells better than axe deo. They are so hellbent on raising their underarms straight over your nose. No escaping that, dear madam. Men love to hold on to the armrests that you ward off carefully or those funny shaped loops high above their heads. Those loops are pre-planned ploys to make you swoon at the perfume dabbed at the underarms. Close your nostrils and fight for oxygen, peel a dozen oranges from your bag, smell and re-smell your perfumed hanky- nothing is going to save you from the pungent odor of unshaved underarms.
Now wait! Your ordeal is not over. You feel your flight has landed and open your tightly shut eye lids. Only to realise to your horror that the 100 odd passengers of your flight jostle for space at the exitways. Thank your lucky stars that the flight did not nosedive into the mantle of the earth due to them 'urgent' passengers. You set your alarm at 4.00 am to get down at a station where your train reaches at 4.15 am. Alas, my dear. The whole coach is awake by 3.30 with chappals stomping and lights blinding. A howling infant and terrifying baritone of his father pacifying him, a hundred cell phones blaring simultaneously at 4.00 and by the time you reach the door to get down, there is a mini Kumbh mela crowd thronging the door way. All you can do is climb down the train and walk like a zombie to the waiting bus. It is again a nightmare to get a seat there.
How do we the cattle class corner seats in a just-arriving bus? It is a historic event worth a Guinness mention! As the bus turns round the corner, you have to make a towel/ handkerchief your loop, ready to hoist the noose around the seat. Keep calm, concentrate, say a prayer, take aim and throw the noose. If you are lucky and lady luck smiles at you, your towel lands with a plop on the corner seat. Now, only half the process is over. The moment the driver applies the brake, all you have to so is close your eyes and elbow your way through the maddening crowd. Not for the weak at heart. No mercy, absolutely.
|Now that is one hell of a bus ride!|
You got every right to stomp, kick, hit and be hit by the mob at the doorway, you pay a whopping Rs. 5 for the ride! All you have to do is focus on that corner seat where your darling towel lies, awaiting your back to seat on her. Did you fail to throw the towel? No worrying there. Jostle through the crowd, use your karate moves subtly, climb the bus and sit on someone else's towel. There...easy, isn't it? The moment you sit however, be ready for a stream of abuses hurtling your way from the motor mouth who threw the towel, yet lost the seat to you. This is where your Yoga skills come in handy. Calm yourself, close your eyes, shut down your auditory nerve system and imagine you are in Greater Kailash/ Mansarovar with clouds hanging and mist closing in. The abuses will stop eventually by the time you visit your great great grandfather in his Heavenly abode! Have a kid? The seat securing marathon is just a piece of cake. Throw in the kid instead of the towel, minus the diaper. Seat- guaranteed!
Though all these minuses weigh us down, we do love travel. We do like to wander the far off lands in the most 'convenient' way. For everyone else who likes to travel royally, you can always have a car, marry the owner/ driver or own a driver/owner ( I mean marry someone!) and buy a car, travel with ease. Cattle class or battle class, we Indians are always ready for the game!
p.s.: This is one post written after a terrifying train journey where I stood for almost 2 hours. So, I got the right to whine!
p.p.s.: Schools reopen tomorrow after vacations. Yayyy! The kids are now saved from my constant picking and yelling;)
p.p.p.s.: Sick of watching Chotta Bheem's umpteen episodes at home. Makes me wonder how do mothers cope with watching hours and hours of that laddoo eating crazy guy...by imagining him as Hrithik Roshan? ;)