At the outset, it was a complicated but simple plan (Oh! The paradox of it all!!). The starting point was Vellore and the destination was Kodaikanal. This route had a junction called Krishnagiri where I had to change buses. There were dozens of buses for the first leg and a handful for the second. I booked a combo that gave me a one hour ‘layover’ at the famous Krishnagiri T Junction terminal. We’ll call this K terminal.
My first bus was a little late and after a short interim halt, I reached Krishnagiri at 10.30 PM. My next bus was at 11.30. So far so good. I walked 1 km to a restaurant I had seen on GoogleMaps and stared at stacked chairs and the counter person counting his days earnings. He gave me “the look” when I asked for food, but smiled and told the cook to make some Chappathi. Hot Chappathi, a milkshake and a rickety toilet break later, I walked to K terminal.
I was greeted warmly at the small Kallada Travels office on the first floor of a dark building right at the K terminal. He wasted no time breaking the news to me. “Your bus is late sir – still hasn’t been able to exit Bangalore due to traffic. The office is full of bugs and insects attracted to the lone light in this building. You’re better off sitting in the corridor overlooking K Terminal a little away from the light”. So I plonked myself into a shaky plastic chair, propped up my feet on the guardrail and discovered the joy of waiting with a million bugs for company. They respected my personal space on most occasions. I swiped at the insects and my phone as minutes ticked on. Dozens of buses swished high above me on the bypass flyover, vehicles crisscrossed in the night and the occasional human being walked past on the road. I dozed, I woke. Reality and dreams merged. It was 1.30 AM when finally my boarding was announced. I waited to step into the aerobridge and board with my eticket.
No aerobridge. “Your boarding point is 1 km away. Please don’t walk it sir, we’ll get a vehicle to drop you”. He locked the office as it was time for him to go home – he’d waited just to keep me safe! The lowslung airport transfer bus dissolved away from my vision and I was shaking in a 3 wheeled autorickshaw which politely dumped me on the side of the highway. “The bus will stop somewhere here sir”.
There is something magical in the sound of trucks and buses and the occasional car whizzing by. It mesmerised me for 20 minutes, before I got a personal call stating the pick-up was about to happen. “Kallada” it said in the big characteristic font and I stuck my hand out and waved as it slowed down. I ran and hopped into the comfortable air-conditioned sleeper bus – no flies, no insects, no buzzes, no stacked chairs. Once more reality merged into dreams – my eyes closed and I slept. My body rested and recovered as the mammoth bus slithered its way on the highway to the foothills in a few hours and then wove its way to the top.
….. and let me tell you, there’s nothing as refreshing as entering home and feeling the warm embrace of family!