(Please note: This is my weekly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)
After the recent Goa-Mumbai bus mishap, my friends were a little worried when I tweeted that I boarded a bus to Goa. Deep down, even I wasn’t quite convinced by my decision of choosing a bus journey over train. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve been faithful to the Indian Railways.
Last week, when I planned my doctor’s visit to Goa, I tried my luck with a couple of trains. Out of desperation, I booked a ticket via tatkal in 3AC as well as 2AC by the same train. Unfortunately, none of these tickets got confirmed. This was the first time I was facing such a problem to get a ticket to Goa. I wouldn’t mind jumping into the unreserved compartment like I’ve done in the past, but considering the long weekend even that was dropped from my list of options. Now, the thought of boarding a bus was hanging in midair.
It was 8 pm and buses were already heading to Goa. A friend suggested I go to Fashion Street and test my luck. Well, the first two bus drivers confessed there was no seat vacant. I was losing hope, but when I spoke to a guy next to the third bus, he said two seats were available. Perfect, I thought and did an imaginary yay-jump! I assumed it was the bus I was standing next to, and quickly snatched the ticket from his hand. But he walked away from me towards a cab; he muttered something and asked me to enter the cab. What was happening? Let me narrate.
The bus that I was going to board had already left Fashion Street and was nearing Mumbai Central. This cab driver was assigned the task of dropping me near the next bus station i.e in Parel. He snaked through the jammed roads and delivered me safe and sound where the bus had halted. It was not just me who was in a haste to catch this bus, but a friend too. The bus driver guided her and she boarded the bus at Wadala.
Phew! We’d made it on time. Well, not really, but kind of. This semi sleeper AC bus was benevolent enough to wait until we got in. Between the 20 minutes’ drive from Parel to Wadala, I scanned the bus. Though it was dimly lit, I searched the push-button to adjust my seat. It was fun! I drew the curtains to avoid any kind of eye contact with the chaotic city. After all, my senses were preparing for the four-day stay in Goa.
Once all the seats were occupied, a screen switched on and a Bollywood film withdrew all the talking among passengers. While the rest diverted their attention to the movie, I asked the lamp above my seat to be switched on and began scanning the pages of my novel.
Next morning as sunrays replaced my alarm; I drew the curtains and stared at the state that had undergone so many changes during the last five years. A bus journey is not all that bad. In fact, it’s a great option as it takes you through Goa. For me, it was like a tour – an excursion that froze a smile on my face.
Photographes by Saurabh Dalvi