I had long been waiting for the semester exams to get over, just like any other college kid. More importantly because I had a plan on mind, that would land me in Goa (my first time) and that was pretty much what the excitement was all about. The plan was made with some cousins, went down the dumps due to “tight schedules” (ghosh!), another plan of Delhi met with the same fortune. On the last day my cousin asked me to come to Mumbai, then on a road trip to Jamnagar, where he is presently based (Indian Navy Sub Lt.). That was enough to cheer me up and after a bit of hassle with the Tatkal train tickets (coz plain tickets are costly and I don’t earn yet, simple), I was up with an itinerary that would turn out to be a helluva ride.
Journey began from Kharagpur to Kolkata. My train to Mumbai was late by 9 hrs even before starting from Kolkata (Indian Railways :/). I had heard of trains getting late on the way but this one was late even before beginning. I tried sleeping in the waiting room but to no avail and half asleep I boarded the train next morning. The journey was not at all happening due to two candid reasons, one being I don’t understand Bengali so couldn’t get into a conversation with my fellow passengers (I prefer not ogling at people for reasons not known to both) , the other being my laptop was loaded with the latest movies and being a movie freak, I couldn’t help myself. The remainder of the time was spent lying dead in the berth as it was a long journey, 37 hrs plus 3 more for being late (yes Indian Railways again ).
On reaching Mumbai and meeting my cousin, we rushed to Pune. Much to my amusement the government funded Volvo buses commute faster than the normal sedans. In two days we had travelled between Mumbai and Pune four times, all thanks to my cousins, one had to cater to his girlfriend in Mumbai and the other her boyfriend’s birthday in Pune (some people just can’t get enough :D). I, on the other was having all the fun, because I love hitting the road with some fancy music and an even fancier company. It was like the song I recall, Eat Sleep Rave Repeat.
(Sunset in Mumbai)
Mumbai-Jamnagar : This was the crux of the entire travel. 800km of pure bliss. This time it was Eat Sleep Travel Repeat. Travelling like that endlessly, stopping on funny places to eat, sleep, have a short snack break and experiencing India is what I presume constitutes to being wanderlust. Dialects change within every 100km. Gujaratis can be so funny at times for they assume you know their language so well (as if you own it) that they help you with navigation in Gujarati itself and all you end up doing is nodding like a retard. After covering around just 200km we were so tired that we had to rest, otherwise we were bound to end up waking in a hospital with probably multiple fractures. So we checked in a cheap hotel/dharamshala, hoping to get a quick nap and begin again as we were already late. The owner took our IDs in custody, had our fingerprints taken, had CCTV surveillance, only to be told in the end that some time back a handful of terrorists had lodged in their place (that part was shit scary, was more amused at how frivolously the worker was telling us that with a smirk on his face, left us in cold sweat).
(one for the unwinding road)
Next day : had to travel around 600km, so was time to get serious. Took very few breaks, just the one around Surat and next big one in Jamnagar. We lost track around Rajkot as with just a few wrong turns and the all user friendly GPS navigation with its shortcuts, we ended up in the middle of streets with just enough space to fit one small car. We were laughing our asses off as yet with 200km to be covered we were in this grotesque situation of struggling to find our way out of Rajkot. Somehow we managed to get out of the mess and reach Jamnagar on time. The naval base is well built and maintained and there is no one thing you can’t get inside the base you’d want outside. All high class facilities are provided for and all in all it’s a city within itself. I have always been intrigued with how smooth a life defense people have.
Jamnagar-Ahmedabad : By this time I was pretty much used to “Mota Bhais”, “Moti Bens” and “Jai Shree Krishnas” floating all around, a taste of being in the Krishna Nagri. This one was a bus ride and I spent it listening to music as there was nothing much to see outside (it was a night trip). One amazing thing happened at the railway station in Ahmedabad. I had about 6 hrs to spend before boarding the train so went straight into the waiting room. I was groggy due to the tiring journey but was shook awake by the lady at the desk as she was shouting at me for being early to enter the waiting room. I had no energy to retort back and just asked “How much?” (Hit the bull’s eye) She gave me a repugnant smile, was all polite henceforth and helped me with the entry, after which I handed her 30 bucks, picked up my luggage and headed straight for one of the chairs. The day before itself I’d been reading in the newspaper that India was ranked 94th in the list of most corrupt nations and got to experience the same hands on. Ironically I had also been sold the same newspaper thrice its price in Bhopal with the price removed from the newspaper, leaving one no option but to buy it. If we talk about annihilation of corruption then it should begin at this grass root level (snip it in the bud), only when it swells to a larger “scam” do we panic.
Ahmedabad-Pathankot-Tiara (my village) : A train ride till Pathankot followed by a bus ride home. I had long been waiting to meet this stereotypical uncle/aunty which people boast to have met and eventually I did encounter one. Humorous shall be the conversation itself.
Uncle : Beta ghar kahan pe hai?
Me : Ji Himachal mein, Dharamshala ke paas.
Uncle : Kya karte ho?
Me : Ji engineering kar raha hun, IIT Kharagpur se (B-|)
Uncle : Yeh kharagpur kahan pada?
Me : Ji West Bengal mein.
Uncle : Acha acha, Himachal mein koi acha engineering college nahi mila kya, jo itni door padhne jaana pada?
Me : (Imitating a facepalm in my head)
Travelling has always enchanted me, for the same reason I love it. It brings you in contact with new people, people all around the world, you get to experience their dialects and moreover you get to experience yourself. Most of the times I prefer travelling alone, reason being you need not worry about keeping someone company, you can be pretty much to yourself most of the time, thinking, experiencing, introspecting and appreciating what and who you have in your life and where your life is headed. It’s not about the destination but the journey we undertake to reach one. That is pretty much the essence of it.
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
― Lao Tzu
Next up on the cards after owning a bike or a car, I have a plan to complete a road trip from Mumbai up to Dharamshala, should be even more euphoric and thrilling than this one, seems impractical but so did many other things in life.