Left office a little earlier than usual, and thanks to the weather in Madras for the past week, there wasn't too much heat as I started down the Old Mahabalipuram road. I haven't been into too much physical activity of late, and this was a fresh new experience for the energy levels I have been radiating lately. Though there are a gazillion maxi cabs, share autos and mofussil buses plying on the road, I thought, what the heck, let me make the most of this chance to hike a little. After having walked for what I thought must have been about two kilometers, I got tired, and decided to do what Douglas Adams
had found so easy to do in his masterpiece - Hitchhike!
Putting my hand out to the first set of vehicles was not the prettiest of experiences. They were a set of punks on their Bajaj Eliminators and Enfield Thunderbirds, and one of them had the balls enough to show me what I'll put up here as the longest one of the human fingers. I could have easily been discouraged by this, but I wasn't. Instead, I showed him mine, and started to look for more people to give me a lift. I saw a battered Yamaha RX 100 coming down the road, and the guy who was driving looked like a Tsunami hit fisherman(probably he was, I'll never know!). He stopped 10 yards in front of me and looked back and stared back at me." Yenga poringa?", he asked, to which I answered that I wanted to go to Adyar. "Perungudi varaikum polam vaanga!", he said, and I got on. I obviously didn't know where the hell he was taking me, and I lost the tiniest sense of direction I had in me when I landed at the Perungudi bus stop. I thanked my first helper for getting to the first milestone.
Even now, I could just take one of the buses home, but decided to push my luck a little, and see what I have coming. If I can do it once, I can do it again, right! And I again started walking down the road, away from the bus stop. Then I saw the Ford Endeavor, the vehicle of my dreams, coming down the road, like a beast strolling alone in the savannahs. Man, I'm gonna have one of these SUVs when I have the dough. I have always thought how rad it would be travel in one, and it seemed that god seemed to be a little too pleased with me that day. With just a little wave of the hand, it stopped before me, and a rather official looking gentleman asked me where I wanted to go. Maybe my TCS id-card did the trick of getting me the ride of the lifetime, and I was talking animatedly about the weather with the man till I had to get down, as he had to go another way. Which meant I had to search for another mode of transport. And what I was about to experience was the direct opposite of the Ford Endeavor. A ride in a ricketly old maxi cab, overflowing with passengers. I had travelled in crowded city buses before, but this experience was something out of the ordinary.
I got in where the Endeavor had left me, a place whose name I can't recollect, but it sounded the all to familiar blah-blah-pakkam, like most of the places in and around Madras. The bus driver and the conductor were both barely out of their teens, and the conductor had a smart-ass smirk on his face that he gave to each of the people that got into the bus. The bus driver seemed to be a trainee, the same as me, only that I am one at Tata Consultancy Services
. He had to be guided by instructions from the conductor whose mouth was already overflowing with pan masala. I was literally sitting on the floor of the bus, and I assure you, the people around me had not seen soap for aleast two weeks. A funny looking man got into the bus, and asked me directions to the railway station. Me, being in the mood for fine conversation, asked him which train he wanted to catch. As it turned out, he had exactly 27 minutes to get to the railway station, and god only knows if he managed to catch his train or not.
Got down at the Adyar bus depot, and thought that this was the end to the perfect journey, an up and down ride through the finery and not-so-finery of life. I had to wait another fifteen minutes for 5-E to come along.
Here, I would like to put in a word or two about the bus rut(sic) they call 5-E. Having travelled on this bus route everytime I have to come to Anna University or IIT, I tell you, this is what a bus ride to eternity would be like. FIVE-E probably stands for 'F*@king Intolerable Vicious Evil - Exodus
I am obviously making this up, and I wouldn't credit MTC to come up with interesting expansion for bus route names. But thankfully, the bus wasn't too crowded on the particular day, and I got home in record time (2hours 37 minutes), and rested after my little odyssey.
PS: talking of Odyssey, be there at the Music Academy on the 26th of Jan, for the Odyssey Quiz. It's gonna be great fun. And go I I M O