Oh the sense of community when travelling by train and conversations with co-commuters...
A lot does happen over a few cuppas of tea here
So on Day 2 of my 25 hour train journey from Mumbai to Bangalore City, the old couple struck a conversation with me wanting to know where I was from and where it is that I was headed to when suddenly the old lady asked me, “Are you married?”
I tried hard to mask my amusement as I've only used to being asked which standard am I studying in!
So when I replied with a ‘No’, she asked me whether I wanted to get married and whether I had ‘selected’ someone. I was further amused with the choice of her words. When another 'No' followed, she didn't ask or say anything else except “Good. You must enjoy your life.”
This seemed like an incomplete conversation to me but I was more than happy to not probe any further and be done with ‘this’ conversation. I was however right and it wasn’t until it was time for us to alight from the train at Bangalore that she completed her train of thoughts: Enjoy your life. Stand on your own feet. Earn and live for yourself before you get married. You have a good job that gives you mental peace. I was married off when I was 17. Roti, kapda, makaan ke liye I have to depend on him (referring to her husband). When he says sit, I have to sit. When he says stand, I should stand.”
And for the longest time her words have continued to echo inside my head...
Mumbai to Coorg via Bangalore because...
Choosing to travel to Coorg, I made yet another decision -- to reach Coorg via Bangalore.
I got told by a few (the ones who know routes better than most) that I should’ve instead travelled via Mangalore as the route is shorter. I have to add here that no one asked me why I chose the route I did – but then again advice is always free so I didn’t really mind any of it.
Now when I had first started making enquires for accommodation I was told by the locals (read: homestay hosts) that the road via Mangalore was ridden with potholes and not a convenient one at all. Also, since I was anyway headed to Goa from Coorg I would anyway be taking the Mangalore route later – so I’d have my Bangalore-Coorg-Mangalore roadtrip too.
And isn’t travelling about the journey and not the destination?
Unfortunately for me however my 25 hour train journey was delayed by 2 hours and there was nothing I could do. As a consequence, I had to forgo the KSRTC AC Volvo bus ticket I had booked for my 6 hour journey from Bangalore to Coorg.
I could sense myself feel part angsty and part Zen (given that I had very little control over anything at that point). I thanked the heavens for JustDial through whom I was able to locate the bus-stand I was supposed to get to, to make my way to Coorg.
The one forgone!
Off at Bangalore station I hauled a rickshaw and surrendered to Google Maps just so that the rickshaw driver wouldn’t take me for another ‘jolly’ ride. At the bus stand, language wasn’t a barrier even though I can barely utter a word of Kannada. I somehow got to know that the next bus to Coorg would be in another half an hour and that it was a local bus (i.e., no AC no Volvo!!!).
If I had to make it through a 6 hour bus journey before nightfall this was my only option. In hindsight this bus journey was the best (and most comfortable) any traveller could have asked for. Thanks to my decision to travel via the Bangalore, the 4 lane highways were a blessing in disguise (never mind the time taken).
The one that eventually got me to Coorg
Half way into the journey we bypassed Mysore city and for a brief moment I was reminded of my 5 year old self who’d visited the city with her parents about two decades ago!
All through the journey I also had my homestay host in Coorg informed about my coordinates and being the gentleman that he was - even when we’d first spoken on the telephone to confirm my stay he’d assured me of my safety and security without me ever broaching the subject even once - he came to pick me up from the bus-stand when I finally reached Coorg at 7.
Three kilometres from the bus stand was my homestay for the next four days that I’d be there in Coorg. Little did I know that once there I’d be cut off from cellular network. But thank god for landlines, I was able to let my parents back home know I’d reached Coorg safe and sound.
My last thoughts that night before I could hit the bed (and even though I didn’t have network) was this 140 odd character update I had typed out on my phone:
Of railways & roadways.
Kick-started with ample adventure.
The stuff holidays are made of.
#IGoSolo #NumbBumb #IndianScotland