Saturday, 29 August 2009

Boarding the train - Part 1

“Boarding 21-08-09 2050 hours at YPR”

I heaved a sigh of relief as I held the ticket in my hands. It was 8:10 PM. We still had a good 40 minutes to go and we were almost there. Given the incidents of the last few hours, I really had my doubts that we would make it so smoothly. Ultra had made it as comfortable for me as possible. I looked at his spectacle covered face. He still seemed a little fidgety about reaching on time. I asked him to relax assuring that everything would turn out fine. Sitting there in that auto-rickshaw headed towards YPR, my mind wandered back into the happenings of the day….

For quite a few years now, the festival of “Ganesh Chaturthi” is linked to a trip to my native place and a get-together of our big joint family of about 40 people praying in unison to the “Vighna Vinashak”. As soon as we get a calendar for the new-year, the first thing that Ultra and I look for are the dates of the Ganapati festival so that we can plan leaves in advance. The tickets on bus/ train are booked one month before and the day of departure is very eagerly awaited. The round trip during monsoons, the celebrations, the food, the pooja, the immersion of the idol – each and every aspect of this festival is a treasure in itself which we would not want to miss for anything else.

With Panini getting married, this year we were faced with a dilemma. Out of Dad, mom, Ultra and me, two of us had to go to native and two of us had to go to her place in Hyderabad for her first “Gowri Pooja”. Since the dates of both the festivals were the same this year and given the large distance from Hyderabad and our native, it was impossible that all of us could go to both the places. Finally, it was decided that mom and dad would go to the native for the fest and we both would go to Panini’s place. Though we would miss going to the native, the joy of going to a festival and going together would always be there. And moreover, Ultra and I would be going by train together. Also, it would be my first trip to Panini’s place and I was looking forward to it eagerly.

We had booked the tickets for Friday. Mom and Dad left for native on Thursday. I met with an accident while coming back home by cab the same day. Next day, ie, on Friday morning, Ultra fell off his vehicle while going to college. Though both were not very serious kind of injuries, the very fact that they happened just before the festival made us ponder whether it was God’s way of punishing us for missing the festival this year. Maybe yes, and more probably no. But I have decided to ask Him whenever we get a chance to meet next. If you have anything to ask Him, you are free to write to me. I shall ask them those too :)

I woke up Friday morning with little pain in hands and knees due to accident. I dint know whether to drive a vehicle to office so that I can leave early or to take the usual office cab. The cab would reach home by 6:45 pm usually and even if it got late by a maximum of half an hour, I would be home by 7:15pm. And the train was scheduled at 8:50pm. Since Ultra was there to pack stuff and get everything ready, I decided I will take the office cab – a decision which I would regret later….

Panini called at office and asked me to get 5 dozen bananas for the pooja. She said the ones that were available over there were either not good for the pooja or too expensive. That’s when I realized the significance of Bangalore’s yelakki baaLe - It is unique, tasty, famous and most important of all - economical. I put a reminder in my cell phone to purchase the bananas from the in-building department store during lunch break. However, during lunch, we were too busy eating a “festival special” meal that I forgot completely about it, inspite of the reminder on my cell! When I remembered it after lunch again, I consoled myself thinking that the best place to buy bananas, that too dozens of them was not a department store at office but a HoPCoMs store near home. So I texted Ultra and entrusted him the responsibility of buying bananas. That was the first of long list of tasks that I was to assign him that day – poor ultra, he just had an accident and might have wanted to sleep. Being the youngest child, he was not used to taking responsibilities as yet. I felt sorry for him. At the same time I was helpless.

Work went well that day. All tasks assigned to me were finished by 4:30pm itself. A thought occurred to me that I could start from office early and take a Volvo bus till majestic. But then, it would be too hectic to travel and the cab would drop me off home by 7pm anyway. So this idea too was vetoed out. Little did I realize that all these thoughts would come back to haunt me later.

I left office at 5pm sharp and went and sat in my cab. Our cab usually has very less number of people and they come to the cab by 5:05 to 5:10. But there is one girl who seldom comes in our cab but whenever she comes she is late. I just prayed she didn’t turn up that day. But as luck would have it, she said she would be coming. It feels quite funny when I think about it – most of the times, people who come early to the cab call up the people who are late and wait for them. It is like calling up someone wasting your money and then wasting your time. waiting for them Maybe I would not make a big deal of it on other days. But today, even a minute was precious to me and I was getting restless. That girl finally came at 5:15pm and we started. She gave a big smile and said “sorry!” – seems some kind of a weapon that all girls possess. How can you fight after that?

The driver was very cautious after the accident last evening and was going a little slow. But we were only 5 minutes behind normal time and I didn’t think much into it as we had crossed the most dreaded K R Puram by 5:40pm. One cab mate said she was feeling hungry and wanted to stop for some snacks. We do this sometimes owing to our long journey and less people in cab – we stop at some food joint and have something before going home. But I could not afford to waste more time today. I told her politely about my situation and they agreed not to stop today. I thanked them for understanding and decided to rest for some time before reaching home.

There is this stretch on Banaswadi main road where our cab usually zooms past at over 60kmph. But unfortunately today, the driver was feeling thirsty and stopped to drink water just in front of a bakery. This time, the cab mates didn’t listen. They said that they would pack food for eating inside the cab instead of eating it there. Some sort of a favour they were doing me, they said. I had no choice but to oblige this time. True to their word, the cab mates came back soon and they had got me some snack too. We were back on the road. It was 5:50pm… already 10-12 minutes late from normal.

This was the first signs that things might get really nasty today. I was particularly angry at my cab mates for not being supportive. I messaged Ultra asking for status. He said that things were ready to be packed, the maid had come and left, but bananas were yet to be brought. It was raining heavily and so he could not get out. I asked him to take the car and get both banana and food for us packed. He agreed. So far so good....

[continued in part 2]
1. HoPCoMS - Horticultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society - Head quartered in Lalbagh, Bangalore. This was set up for supporting the horticultural produce and encouraging horticulture as a side-business by regular farmers.
2. Panini, Ultra - my siblings. In case I had not told it earlier :)