(Of bug bites and groggy eyes…)
Our journey to Kohlad was one long drive by road, from Hyderabad to Pune in a bug infested Volvo, and from Pune to Kohlad by a small little van sent to us by the River Trail campsite. A train would have certainly been a better idea, saving us some time and allowing for a more comfortable journey, but we couldn’t manage tickets. The sky rocketing fuel prices are making train journeys impossible, unless we book well ahead of time. And such trips can’t be planned several weeks in advance, unless of course we close shop and make a career out of traveling. But the discomfort of the journey apart, we certainly had some memorable moments on the bus drive. This post is dedicated to some of those crazy moments aboard some not-so-great busses.
Despite deadlines and last minute setbacks, all of us assembled on time at Paradise circle, where we were to be picked up. After the first fifteen minutes of anxiously looking out for the promising Volvo, and panicking because Mini was yet to show up, we realized that this was going to be a bit of a wait. Bags were set down, and some effort was made to move to the foot path and make way for moving vehicles. We were thirteen strong and it was a while before we realized that we were in the way of a lot of vehicles heading to a bar right behind us. Meghna and I headed to Paradise to sample some Haleem, while Yatin set out to stock up food for the journey ahead. An hour later we were still waiting, looking expectantly at all the large Volvos that passed us. Finally, we’re told that our vehicle had arrived and we troop into this little yellow van, which was neither air conditioned, nor had push back seats. I for one was really worried about a twelve hour journey in that bus. There were already a couple of us sharing seats and we were to pick up Anand and Nishana at Kukatpally. Thankfully, this was only a pick-up, which took us to the point where we would board our Volvo.
When we finally boarded the Volvo, it was about 9pm. We sank into our smelly seats that had towels for covers, trying not to be too bothered by the leaking AC vents over our heads. As the bus made its way through the infamous roads of Hyderabad, we were entertained by some very cheesy dance numbers on the TV screen, the kind that existed before decent clothes, good looks and the basic ability to dance became criteria to be a part of the film industry. Thank God for the new breed of fashion designers, make-up artists and fitness experts. But the guys who owned the bus were apparently frozen in time.
An hour into the journey, Ruby decides that it’s time to take matters into her hands. Up she springs, elbowing a co-passenger’s head, with a long speech about how we should be playing something since TV was no fun. By the time we knew it, she had us playing some complex word building game. Am yet to completely figure the nuances of it, but I remember getting away with words like ‘faultily’ and ‘jackily’…lol…That’s the good bit about being a student of English literature, you’re expected to have a good vocabulary. Sometimes that works to your advantage, though I can tell you that’s not always the case. Satya tried his luck with ‘Timmy’, but Ruby had him thrown out of the game. Ruby spent the next hour trying to get us to play more word games and Antakshari, some played along, trying to match her enthusiasm (am sure they were after the chocolates), others just dozed off or worse still, gave her a tough time. And the whole time, the dude in front of our seats had his head elbowed. He didn’t look too happy about it, but I suppose he knew better than to mess with Ruby. She claims to have smashed an eve teaser’s foot with a huge rock, back in Jaipur. Sure seems to have made headlines.
At about 12 am, the bus pulls in front of a dhaba of sorts. It’s Anand’s birthday and we had come prepared with a cake. We should have known better than to entrust it with Sallu bhai. He claims to have left it on his seat and sat on it by mistake. But we think he was frustrated that he couldn’t make it to the gym that evening, or maybe he was on his trip of trying to impress some hot chick on the bus. But the freaks that we are, we had Anand cut the smashed cake and even feasted on it, along with some delicious dhal fry and butter chicken.
The second arm of the journey was fairly uneventful. We reached Pune at about 7am, very badly bug bitten, groggy and stiff necked. After chai, smokes and a quick visit to a small toilet in a run-down hotel, we were on our way to Kohlad. Being an uphill climb, a lot of us had queasy stomachs an hour into the journey. It didn’t help that Satya kept yelling ‘yahan pe kaun kaun Waquar Younis hain’ every two minutes. The journey brought with it some absolutely stunning scenes, the kind you’d see only in picture post cards. The over cast skies and steady drizzle made the view just perfect. For a good part of the journey we kept going ‘waaaaaaannnnuuhhhhh’, Minishtyle, and clicking away on our little digicams. But I suppose the best of our pictures are no match to what we saw. I have always wondered in moments like these, if it’s probably best to take a deep breath and a good look at the view outside the window and say ‘click’, lest we don’t take back the real thing in our anxiety to freeze the moment. For the rest, we tried being more cooperative with Ruby and played passing the parcel.
At about 11 am, we spotted Rashmi in her white Santro. She’d lost her way and had been going in circles for a while. We hear she had a good time driving from Mumbai. The last rung of the journey, was in a little raft. It struck me that we made this long journey by road, but we weren’t quite there until we took our first of many water rides!
So that was our long bus ride to Kohlad. Look out for more posts on Kerning at Kohlad!