Ah, Navratri. It’s that time of the year again when lakhs of students and workers take leaves and travel back to their hometowns for the festivities. It is of special importantce in East India, particularly in Bengal, and my town being in close proximity, we are no exception.
It was the October of 2013 and I had a ten day leave from college for Navratri and Dashehra so I decided to visit home. Most of the travel was hitch free but the last leg of it was where the trouble began. After 45 hours of travel, I descended the train at the nearest railway station from my hometown (about 40 km) at 4:15 AM with two trolley bags and one backpack. Since my father did not send anyone to get me and I didn’t want to hire a taxi, I decided to take a bus. (Not the one in the picture)
With both of my hands pulling the trolley bags behind me, I got out of the station and on the main highway. There I saw a bus which looked decent by Indian standards. I went up to it and paid the conductor for a ticket. I asked, “Which seat number?” “Sit wherever you want” was the answer. I thought that was odd but didn’t think much about it. Thankfully I got an empty seat, put my luggage in the overhead bin and sat, waiting for the journey to start. When the bus didn’t start moving even after 20 minutes, I got uncomfortable. It was just then when someone came up the aisle and mentioned, “This bus isn’t in working condition, please get in the bus parked immediately behind.”
Have you ever been in a stampede? At that moment, I felt like I was. Everyone was running and skipping over other people to be the first person out of this bus and the first person to grab a seat in the next one. If I didn’t have to retrieve my luggage, I would have ran and seat in the rear parked bus too, but I couldn’t and when I finally got there dragging my baggage, all the seats were full. I was quite furious and the bus conductor heard a mouthful from me and many other now standing passengers.
Anyway, the bus started to move. Thankfully, the road on that route is a paved one so we didn’t get many jerks. It was all nice and slow until the bus stopped only after a few minutes. At that moment, I thought maybe someone has to pee and hence asked for the bus to stop so he could, but the cynic in me feared something worse. Slowly, I started shifting towards the door of the bus (with my luggage of course). After an atrocious wait of another few minutes, the conductor announced that the engine of the bus has overheated (At 5:45 AM on an autumn morning, can you imagine?) and that another bus is on its way to pick us up.
Now I was at an advantage over the seated people. As soon as the new bus arrived, I jumped out of the door and sprinted faster than Bolt towards the next bus. I finally got a seat. A lot of others didn’t, including women and children, but I couldn’t care less at that point. I already was exhausted after two days of traveling and two instances running from one bus to another with two heavy bags and I was not giving my seat up for anyone.
A journey which should have been for 45-50 minutes had already clocked over two hours and I hadn’t even reached my destination yet. I called up my father to let him know that I’ll be late and to ask him to come to the bus stop to pick me up. The skullcap wearing gentleman who was seated beside me overheard my conversation and said, “Oh, you’re going to *my destination* too? Can you give me a lift?” I just looked him dead in the eye and said no. Because no means no right?
Finally, after an excruciating two and a half hours, I reached home and had a glorious vacation with the only blight being the dreaded bus journey. Needless to say, I haven’t traveled in a bus on that route again. Either my father used to send someone to retrieve me, or I hired a cab myself. Here, this is the type of vehicle I normally hire on that route:
Ever since that experience, I have been a comfort seeking, high spending brat when it comes to travelling.
This is my first time writing a personal experience. Tell me what you think and how I can improve. Don’t hold back on the criticism.