Sleeping with a stranger

Friday night Saathi and I reached the travel agent’s office on Hosur Road. The travel there was an adventure by itself. An hour through mad traffic, verbal insults and a dent on cousin in law’s car saw us at this place. As we looked around for a restroom there was none. Saathi in an effort to be gallant went to find out if there was one any place nearby.

He was back in a jiffy, face in a huge grin. Even as I made to get up and walk up to him, he gestured for me to remain seated. He said “I asked the guy at the counter if there were restrooms around. The guy said “For men or women?” I said “Both” The guy said “For men, you can walk around the building and relieve yourself in the open, for women there there are no restrooms!””

After that fiasco, we waited an hour past the scheduled departure time and eventually boarded our bus. I knew we could not get contiguous seats but I was not prepared for what I saw. It was a sleeper bus. There were four rows of double beds and four single beds along the other side. Turns out I was on the upper deck waiting to see who would turn up as my company for the night.

Saathi had a guy with an iPhone glued to his ear. My company turned out to be a teenager visiting her grandparents also with a cellphone glued to her ear. As I lay awake enjoying the bumpy ride and peering through the windows on a pitch dark sky with the occasional star twinkling above, I mulled my strange situation.

It has been ages since I shared my bed with a stranger. I was acutely aware of the concept of personal space. The girl did not seem to care. She made herself at home and was asleep as soon as the bus started. I hesitated to turn lest I infringe on her space. The bus sped past and it was past midnight before I slept wedged in one corner in an awkward position. I woke up to a brilliant blue sky, Kaveri rushing past the road and cattle all along the sides. The strange journey was very worth it.

As we got off at City Junction, the sights and sounds were endearingly familiar. Memories of past vacations filled my head. The sight of the town bus with huge open windows, women with huge sacks of produce, college going students with backpacks were a feast to my eyes.

Bus 128 was leaving and Saathi and I hopped in. It was semi full. Saathi could not find a place to sit. I was looking around when the driver beckoned me to sit on the bonnet of the bus. I just loved it. Seated precariously, I watched as he chatted with the regulars. A school teacher, a bank employee and another lady who was talking about her daughter’s wedding. The ease with which they shared their stories, the smiles and the slow pace of life was charming. We reluctantly got off at the BHEL campus and made our way to my uncle’s house.

That’s for another post though!

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