Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A thing called (bad???) luck

My sister's 10th grade results came out last weekend. She got 86 percent. Pretty impressive (better than mine)!!! This was a big occasion in my little sister's life, so I decided to visit her back in my hometown of Mumbai. I booked "Bus" tickets for both ways (It is a 14hr journey from Hyderabad to Mumbai in a bus). Anxiously waiting for Friday evening somehow slipped through the week. I had no idea what was in the store for me. This was going to be a journey of a lifetime.

Day - Friday June 29th, 2007. Time - 6:30 PM. After finishing my day-job, I went to Rahul's office (he also works with Microsoft, but in a different location). We left his office at about 7 and reached the bus stop by 7:30. We kept talking, sometimes taking a look at the TV that was airing 2nd ODI cricket match of the Future Cup between India and South Africa. Slowly time passed and I was ready to leave. 8:30 PM sharp, the bus started and I was headed home!!!

The night was pretty dull. Though I didn't have any expectations of "a night in a bus" to be exciting, it was way too boring. The bus stopped by a "Dhaba" at about 11 PM and I had my dinner. After coming back into the Bus, I started listening to my favorite songs on my Nokia 6280 (I realized later, this was one of the biggest mistakes I made). Don't know what time did I sleep but I do know that I woke up somewhere in the middle of the night and turned my phone off (with hardly any charge remaining).

Day - Saturday June 30th, 2007. Time - 7 AM. I woke up due to some noise. Realized that we were very close to Pune and the bus had stopped because someone had to get down. Felt really happy. Closer to home. The bus started again. Nothing significant happened until we reached Pune. That was when I called up home and got to know that it was raining heavily in Mumbai and local trains have stopped.

This was no shock to me. It happens many a times in Mumbai. But, I wasn't prepared for it. My cellphone was terribly low on battery. There were no trains running. It was a flood like situation in the city. And that flood hit city was where I was going!!!

I kept telling myself - calm down, don't panic, everything is going to be just fine. Things could have gone fine but as my luck had it, the bus broke down due to some weird technical problem (as described by the staff). I was about 70 kms away from home. Stranded. With a phone that will work only for 10 minutes if I kept it ON, a bag that had my laptop, and (very) heavy rains.

After an hour of marathon effort, I got an autowala agreed to drop me till Vashi (some 20 km from the place where the bus broke down). The auto driver was really gutsy. He drove through fully submerged roads and took me till Vashi Railway Station.

There was another setback waiting for me. No trains (in straight direction to my home) were operational. There was one route (Vashi-Thane) which was operational but that will take me even further from my home. And, at that time, it was known that there are buses running from Thane till my home. I had two choices, wait at the station for the regular route to become operational; or, go the other way round and try to reach home before the weekend gets over. I chose the latter.

The train wasn't too crowded but still pretty much over-occupied as compared to other days on that route. Anyway, this part of the journey was very smooth. I spoke to a couple of people in the train. We discussed a lot of things - rains, government, politics, corruption, pretty much everything that a common man in a local train would discuss. Once I reached Thane, One of the folks that I was talking to explained to me the directions to the Bus Stop.

One more bad news was waiting for me at the Bus stop - there was a landslide on the way and there won't be anymore buses to Bhayander. Whoops.... what the heck should I do now... I spoke to some of the people out there and the idea of hiring an auto to get closer to home seemed nice. But there was no autowala ready to go there. Kept waiting there at the bus stop for nearly 2 hours. And then came the first good news of the day - the road has been cleared and soon there would be a bus coming in. There were about 250 people waiting for that Bus. I wondered how was I going to get into it. Still kept waiting for soon to get over. After nearly 1 hour, a bus came with Bhayander written on it. Despite me having disliked ST buses the most, at that moment, it seemed to be the most beautiful thing in the world.

People stormed in. ST buses have a single door which is used for entry and exit both. There were 250 people trying to get into a single door all at once. The only phrase that can come close to describing the situation is -"Perfect chaos". Suddenly I saw something amazing. Someone had spotted the emergency exit door (which is at the back of the bus) to be open. That seemed like end of trouble, some of the young guys (including me) took on to the adventurous job of climbing up to the emergency window and pushing our bodies inside the bus.

I sat on a window seat and throughout the way, I could see devastation. Stranded people, broken roads and vehicles. I took a couple of snaps on the way. Will post it here sometimes. But thankfully it wasn't as bad as July 26th 2005. Usually that bus takes about 30 minutes. But that day, it took more than an hour to reach my place.

I reached home by 5:30 PM. almost 8 hours late. Still, it was a big relief for my family to see me.

And yes... my return bus got cancelled and I had to extend my trip for one more day and took a flight on Monday evening back to Hyderabad.

I look at it in two ways - on one hand, it was a bad experience going completely off the pre-planned schedule. On the other hand, I could spend one extra day with my family and off-course got the taste of Mumbai monsoon once again :)

Good luck or bad luck. Whatever you call it. Was definitely a trip worth remembering.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will see it is a rocking experience instead of a bad luck...Take it in a positive side...

Life is full of surprises. U never know wat will happen. Stil it moves on and we keep unblocking ourselves...

Cheers babie...!!!

srijan said...

You know, there is always two sides to a coin. In this context, I believe that people can be judged very well by their perception of things. Its like that story where a wilted plant may be described as "a dying plant" or "a plant with some life left in it". Its all in what you think and your approach.

No doubt your experience is a very unique and exciting one. Its a nice change from the work that we do in Microsoft. People may disagree with me, but I think these type of experiences bring us closer and remind us of the real world outside (coz in Microsoft we are all very well paid and always surrounded by luxury). For example, normally we would not care a bit for a lousy government bus which spews out a lot of smoke, moves like a snail and is so crowded that you would be lucky if you coul stand on one foot properly. But at that point of time when you were in deep trouble, that bus came as a great gift. Here in Hyderabad we seldom even think of traveling in a public vehicle, as we get all the amenities from the company itself. So dont look at the experience as harrowing, but look at it as an enriching adventure, which you can narrate to your friends and loved ones for years to come...

Anonymous said...

You know, there is always two sides to a coin. In this context, I believe that people can be judged very well by their perception of things. Its like that story where a wilted plant may be described as "a dying plant" or "a plant with some life left in it". Its all in what you think and your approach.

No doubt your experience is a very unique and exciting one. Its a nice change from the work that we do in Microsoft. People may disagree with me, but I think these type of experiences bring us closer and remind us of the real world outside (coz in Microsoft we are all very well paid and always surrounded by lixury). For example, normally we would not care a bit for a lousy government bus which spews out a lot of smoke, moves like a snail and is so crowded that you would be licky if you coul stand on one foot properly. But at that point of time when you were in deep trouble, that bus came as a great gift. Here in Hyderabad we seldom even think of traveling in a public vehicle, as we get all the amenities from the company itself. So dont look at the experience as harrowing, but look at it as an enriching adventure, which you can narrate to your friends and loved ones for years to come...

Deobrat Singh said...

Srijan,
The experience indeed was a good one. It was not for the first time that I was stuck in a situation like this.

I can never forget a rainy day in Mumbai that changed my outlook towards life (July 26th 2005). A day that made me realize how tiny we can get when nature shows its fury. Yes… I am talking about the most infamous rains in the history of Mumbai. It rained, it rained like hell, rained like there was no tomorrow. And for thousands of Mumbaikars there really was no tomorrow. The memory of walking with my friends, holding each others’ hands with neck level chilling waters all around still sends shivers up my spine. Thanks to the local youth who came out of their safe houses down in the water to help others. You could see people making human chains, tying ropes across streets to help people cross roads, standing in the middle of the water current to warn people of main-holes. I thank god and I thank Mumbaikars for I am alive.

The memories of the past still scare me.

Venus said...

hey dear.....u shld be happy that it inspired to write somthing adventurous and very interesting to read(no pun intended here).It was really thrilling like reading a story yaar....u can be a good writer.....

Sayan said...

Well, that ain't too bad! At least you could write a thrilling post man! This has gotta be a day to remember 4 u!