Amazing how simple punctuation marks can add a totally new dimension to an otherwise simple-looking word, isn’t it? Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply positively to the first word of the title for this post. When home’s ‘close’ to 2000 long kilometers away (Ah, the magic of punctuation marks!!!), travel’s obviously a huge pain the (Nah, nah, nah! Naughty, naughty!) NECK (literally). And the recent trip back home most certainly QED’d Murphy’s Law. First up, my flight from good ol’ Delhi is at six in the morning, which means I had to leave from the hostel at ten the previous night, with colour, water and, later (when the I’ve-had-only-3-pegs-but-I-don’t-know-what’s-with-today’s-ethyl-alcohol lunatics ran out of their pukka (i.e., permanent) colour) mud being slung, in (the pun is so intended) mile-high spirits. I had to postpone my departure from half-past eight to ten just because I didn’t want to sacrifice my beautiful bright-green-with-a-blue-back T-shirt (useless details)- not to the colours but to the (a la our amazing Sallu) unforgiving mobs who seemed to be hell-bent on proving that cotton, terrycot and polyester aren’t greatly tear-free. As I tiptoed out with Ani, and after (as usual) penning in a few witty lines in the leave register, we left for the bus-stand (Bustee in insti-lingo), hoping for a comfortable ride where we could at least catch a few forty winks.
Murphy’s Law QED No.1.
We find a nice and shiny Uttar Pradesh State Transport Corp. air-conditioned bus and board it joyously (which was after a few minutes of bargaining with our rickshaw-wallah). As soon as we step in, I smell some unfortunate past passenger’s motion sickness and quickly move to the back (On the way, by the way, I had to politely wake up a guy with REALLY smelly socks to get his legs out of the way.) of the bus, silently appreciating the seems-to-be-OK air-conditioning. 10 minutes in, more smelly socks find their way up to the seats as some prepare to sleep. I put my bag right up to my nose and try to sleep straightaway. But, then, comes the oh-so-brilliant movie and I quickly realized the negatives of having the world’s biggest film industry. A Z-grade movie with some failed villain (who has been in the news a lot, for the wrong reasons, though) as the hero and some never-seen-before-and-I-so-don’t-want-to-again heroines ‘acting’ in some dumb movie with a dumber name and one of the dumbest plots ever (clichés galore), which successfully manages to rid me totally of sleep in its what-was-it three or four really long hours of runtime. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough that the bus didn’t have any other dumb movie’s pirated DVDs to play and I could (not so peacefully, because of the stubborn I-refuse-to-bend-my-back seat) sleep till we reached the capital.
Murphy’s Law QED No. 2
We reach the Delhi airport (after freezing to death in the auto; it was an unusually cold spring night) at around half-past three (correction: morning?) and I find out that my flight’s cancelled due to “undeclared operational difficulties” (which, for me, translates to “Ha, ha, ha! I’m gonna screw you!”). I run around madly, almost exhausting my cellphone’s balance calling my parents over and over again (I’m on roaming, you see), requesting, and enquiring from, one officer after another, but all to no avail. All they guarantee me is a ticket to Hyderabad, from where I’ll have to somehow manage my way back to Vizag (Visakhapatnam, for the uninitiated). All kinds of people pestered the officers for a refund or a guaranteed ticket to Vizag from the city of pearls but our national carrier’s not-too-polite ground-staff refused to budge and, in fact, blamed me for being unprepared (Yeah, right. At half-past four in the morning! Hullo???). So, even after my repeated arguments that I can travel 12 hours on a train all alone, my mom books me on a connect from Hyderabad, costing me (on a low-cost?) an unreasonable four grand.
The nine days of the vacations passed off peacefully, with me not able to play Holi (I use ‘play’ and not ‘celebrate’ because I did have a nice time with the family but not the wild splashes one has with friends, so I can say I did celebrate Holi) for the second (or maybe third) year in a row (as I had to leave on the same day) but watching my brother come back all drenched, painted and splattered with egg whites and yellows all over his head and shirt (which didn’t exactly earn itself a right to be called one after the fiasco) did make my day, though. But, as it turns out, sequels don’t really stop at one.
Murphy’s Law QED No. 3
It’s a Saturday and it’s the holiday weekend (what with Thursday being Milad-ul-Nabi, Friday being Good and Saturday, Holi) so it really wasn’t the best of times to book a ticket on the Godavari Express (Vizag to Hyderabad; probably the busiest train on that route) just four days before the journey. Around two hours before the departure, I find out that I’m in the waiting list. Dad and I shoot off to the railway station to try and get some kind of adjustment (I’d use the right word later) but to no avail. Then, we loiter around the TTE’s resting area for around an hour and after a customary hand-out (a hundred-and-fifty bucks!), I’m assured a seat in sleeper class (with an AC ticket!). After a lot of running around in the train, and a number of frantic calls back home, I get a berth with a few fat government officers for company, who discussed everything under the sun from the effect of IPL on Test cricket and economics, in general (the all-pervading, omnipresent game that is our pseudo-national game!) to (in their opinion) an inevitable change in power in A.P. and at the centre, almost all of which I would have loved to keenly followed (and even participated in) had it not been for the fact that the discussions were in Telugu (which, although IS my mother tongue, is a language I’m not very adept at speaking in). An uneasy night followed, with the train’s rough seats and my filled-wth-Mom’s-delicious-Besan-ke-Laddu, space-consuming bags refusing to let me fall into the arms of Morpheus but I somehow did at around three or so in the morning (or night?).
(We don’t stop at a trilogy!)
Murphy’s Law QED No. 4
I wake up at five in the morning, expecting to see Secunderabad station soon enough. A walk for a quick brush reveals a dark outside view, with the sun still sluggish to come out of its cosy sleep. Around half an hour later, I switch on my mobile to check my location, fearing the worst. Meanwhile, a fellow passenger, who had preferred to doze while the great discussions were going on below (by the way, those officers were doing the same now!), woke up to start a conversation with me. Turned out his son was a BITSian and was now in the US of A. Great, I said, vaguely resembling a pig on the way to the butcher’s guillotine. He failed to cease, though and my only solace were the continous calls form home asking where I was. I’m usually a highly sociable person (ahem…) and I love striking conversations with anybodies, somebodies and nobodies on trains, buses, planes- everywhere. But, this wasn’t just the time. I somehow managed to remain courteous to the gentleman and at last, reached my destination 2 hours late.
Bang! Every single plan went BANG! The flight’s at 9:15, check-in ends at 8:45 and I’ve got to reach the new airport (I shall contain my excitement to describe it here) on a rainy Sunday morning traveling 32 kilometres! I walk out, drenched in seconds, to find an auto-rickshaw offering to go for six hundred rupees. On any other normal day, both me and Dad would have said, “Six hundred darned rupees! NO freakin’ way in Hell!” but in this case, after a re-check with Dad, I uttered an uncomfortable Yes. The driver uttered a barrage of expletives on the way when buses and speeding cars sploshed mud at us (and how!) but we managed to reach the new airport, somehow, on time.
OK. I’m in a hurry but I still stand to admire the beauty of the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad, Hyderabad and, incidentally, it was the day of commissioning of the airport! So, my name will be etched (hopefully in red and not golden letters; red’s my favourite colour) in history. I didn’t exactly have the time for a commemorative picture for the day but still enjoyed the chocolates and the rose (Ah! She looked really pretty in that red saree…Oops! We’re digressing, here!) and the whole airport mimicked KLIA (that’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport) to the core.
Nice and comfortable flight. Back to the airport at Delhi; not exactly relaxed but surely relieved. The return journey was much more enjoyable with a superb bus, two fellow Littas (RS and Atulya) and a wonderfully verbose professor of journalism for company.
As I sat back in my room (which was back to its messy, dusty best) and contemplated over the eventful trip back home, I, after nine months of observation, finally formulated Murty’s Law, whose statement is as follows,
The answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is Jugad, which, incidentally, adds up to 43. (when the letters are substituted by their respective numbers, i.e. A-1, B-2 and so on)
But, then, when I stated this great formulation to the revered 42 supporter, Saagar, he couldn't accept the fact that someone could wrong the (probably) second most divine number (after Phi, of course) and rightly pointed out that as the research took exactly NINE months (which is also, I believe, my lucky number), one could be subtracted from the answer giving, in the end, 42!
Yes, Douglas Adams got it right and I came close...
P.S.- This was a long, long post but actually, I really cut it short by not describing the journey back to Roorkee fully.
P.P.S.- Yes, Ashok. Even I wonder why I took so long to figure it out.
P.P.P.S.- Thanks, Saagar. You rule!
P.P.P.P.S.- All these
post-post-post-scripts scripts are highly irritating, aren't they? Especially after a long post!
4 months ago