The Travel Woes


Travelling is fun, especially if you live in India. On some of my trips across the country ranging from the Southern extremes of KanyaKumari to the beautiful valleys of Dalhousie, not to forget the delightful meals of Jodhpur and scrumptious sweets of Kolkata, I have learned a lot. Airplanes, trains, buses, taxis... I have been through all with cherish able (or not so cherish able) experience every time.

In a two and half hour direct flight from Jaipur to Bangalore, I expected to be seated next to a beautiful, spectacled, IT- employee girl and have some nice chit chat throughout the flight. What I got was a bald and fairly over sized uncle next to me! Bad Luck, but I learned my first lesson of not expecting. He took fairly large amount of his seat as well as mine and opened his food tray immediately. As a matter of fact, he had got 2 pyaaz kachoris packed from a famous shop of Jaipur and I felt reprehensible with the smell early in the morning. He ate them with much enthusiasm and fervour within five long minutes and burped away loudly to his satisfaction. As the airplane moved above the cloud cover, I requited myself with the natural beauty outside my window. This was when I patted my own back with the second lesson of always opting for the window seat. It helps in a situation like mine. The elbow of the uncle next to me poked me and I wanted it to be declared a lethal weapon of national threat as pangs of pain ran through my body. I shifted away from him.

I was listening to some of my favourite songs on the earphones when I heard weird sounds. I checked my phone abusing it for the technical issues, but immediately realised that it was not the phone. I removed my earphones only to be bewildered by the snoring of the uncle. He snored loudly in weird rhythms which could be used as a backdrop for a villain’s entry scene in a B Grade Bollywood movie. I promised myself to travel by train, where at least I would have a whole berth to me and no one would sit next to me. The flight did land and I did survive through it with a badly paining chest due to the poking.

The train journey from Delhi to Cochin is approximately over two and a half days, and the route is noteworthy for the scenic beauty of the Western Coast and amazing greenery. I was with a couple of friends and I looked forward to the stupendous tour. The journey began and after a few hours, for the typical Indian-ness inside us, we opened our food boxes to pool all that we had got from home. I had the lowest berth and above mine was a kid who was accompanied by his relatives who were in the next compartment. He did create a brouhaha but we did not mind. However I realized he was a devil in disguise, when he ran through the aisle, falling on passengers at late hours of night. At one such late hour of night, he decided to jump on my foot in one of his games with his cousin. It was dreadful. The next morning when I went to the toilet, I realized what horror I had done to myself. It was a lesson to me not to eat in the train because you can’t get it out. The toilet was literally a scene of total S**T. There was poop in the whole washroom except for where it was supposed to be. The same was the scene in the bathrooms of all the compartments.  As a result, I spent 2 days without using the toilet because anyways there was no such concept of getting it cleaned. I promised myself that I would rather walk like sadhus but not travel by train again.

Road journey have always fascinated me. Although I love driving on highways but when you get reimbursed, you always choose a taxi. I hired a taxi for a road trip from Jaipur to Jodhpur, which is a five hour journey on a fairly good highway. I was alone, but still excited as I had my phone and my laptop and what else does a youngster need anyways. As the driver hit the highway, he started with some of his life stories full of struggles, drama, action and emotion. I realized where our directors got all their scripts from. At first, I listened intently owing to my interest of observing people from different walks of life, but gradually it turned out that his stories only had comas and semi colons but no full stops. I started listening to music to spend some peaceful lone time. I do not know if the driver was perturbed by the fact that I was not paying attention or something else, but he drove rather ruthlessly. But then I noticed, that everybody around also did. Indian roads are a total mess. There is an ever going road repairing, which practically goes on forever, and there are people honking all the time. It was my travel lesson there that Assumption of immorality is expected from all road users. There were a few times when we had a near death experiences because a group of cows or goats had decided to cross the road. Always remember on Indian roads, precedence is accorded to cows, elephants, goats or rather any kind of living creature. The drive ended and I felt my bums frozen due to non-shifting for a long time. It was tiring.

I got to travel by bus from Udaipur to Ahmadabad which is a fairly long journey but comfortable enough for a bus. Bus journey is probably the weirdest of all that I have described so far. Firstly, the bus authorities ensure that more than two people are booked for some seats which results in “addjesting” of the passengers. Here you learn the true lesson of coexistence. Moreover, there is always a ‘Just Married’ couple in the bus who make you feel non-existing by their activities (or rather you don’t want to exist seeing their activities). Once again, the expectation lesson is learned when you expect a cute girl and end up with an auntie who scolds you on listening to loud music or talking on phone.

The conductor always displays his aiming skills by throwing the luggage into the belly of the bus from a distance of 20 metres without paying heed to the fact there might be something breakable. While driving they use an in-built sense of GPS to drive over all the potholes of the road without missing a single one. The food you had consumed last lurches in your stomach with a weird feeling of puke and poop. There is a hidden business lesson also to be learnt from the bus journey. The empty seats are always sold to oddly smelling, murderous people, by stopping the bus in the middle of nowhere at an inflated rate +200% sales tax. Here you learn how to earn profits from a needy audience. When a destination arrives, the bus driver/ conductor never announce the name and let you find it out on your own by reading the shop labels or milestones. You feel like Sherlock Holmes and learn to do your own tasks, and eventually do figure out the name of the place.
The most interesting part is the dhaba where the bus stops for snacks. It is invariably the place with good food and dirtiest possible toilets where you end up searching a place for yourself to pee. On the rest of the journey, you stare out of the window, outside the grimy window pane and tend to ponder over your past and your future life. After all, the journey does come to an end.

Whenever I reach back home after any such travelling or journeys, I always realize that this is a part of the country I love, the country which has made me what I am. At the end of it all, I do miss the uncle with the poking elbow, the kid whom I wanted to throw outside, the auntie with her nagging and the mucky toilets. I always happen to take something fruitful from each of my journeys. I hope everyone does that too. We all can crib, but that does not solve our problems. That is how it is and maybe that is why they call Life a Journey, an expedition. It indeed is...





6 comments:

Amit Sharma said...

hahaha...amazing..i couldn't stop laughing throughout! :D

Himanshu Nagpal said...

Hahahaha.... Superb. Amazingly true. Brilliantly described. hahahaha

Cheers!
Himanshu Nagpal | Being Traveler

Pawas Jain said...

Thanks a ton dude.. :) Feels good to be appreciated by a traveller himself.. ;)

Sushma said...

Great! Your sense of humour is sometimes subtle and sometimes over the top...both the ways..its amazing.. :D well done..

Rajesh Dhar said...

Very nice... appreciable sense of humour.. :)

TheGooglePower said...

Good work.. :) funny...

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