Staying away from home has both, its beauty and its beasts. Its been about 4 years since I moved out now. These 4 years have been interspersed, to my happiness sometimes and sometimes only as a need-to-do thing, by, travels. Travels that begin in the place I am located in and always end up in the by-lanes of a Bangalore whose smells have changed from begonias to a mix of smoke from vehicles and the smell of begonias and finally to the pure lung-choking power of pollution. How frequently I travel to Bangalore is purely determined by the distance I am from my beloved city. When in Bhubaneshwar, it was in about 6 months and when in Lucknow, the calendar for movements was determined by what Prof. Mulky decided.
Now, in the land of the Nizams, I find myself travelling more frequently. Travel includes many modes and an even larger number of difficulties that each sets in. They all find their panacea in a cuppa when I reach home the morning after.
My routine now has been to take a Volvo at 8 30 in the night on Friday and reach Bangalore by 7 30 or 8 00 am in the morning.
Of all the things and people I have found a bonding with in my life, this would surely be in the most surrealistic one. Seat number 24 of the 8 30 pm Volvo drawn by KSRTC. Would I find the same guy to my left, with his fancy mobile phone, the one that sets of vibrations in most parts of the bus everytime he gets a call - missed or not? Will the same waiter at Reliance Dhaba (A-1) refuse me all the items I ask and try to convince me that omlettes are best?
Sitting in my shack for 11 hours, insomnia engulfing me like the very blanket I was wrapped in, all I could feel were the silent snores of the person behind. The only entertainment I had was to see the water from the rains, meandering aimlessly, choosing and changing directions by the centimeter, as they rolled down the windows made of plexi-glass, on the outside. Trying to trace the path of the head of these rivulets-in-small, I found myself lost in thought. Sounds very much like a scene out of the movies, with the darkness brought in by using opaque scenes around the bus, with the water being sprinkled by high sprinklers.
Outside night had embossed everything under its cover. Though not really a jungle outside, it clearly was acres and acres of greenery, as far as I could see in the dark. And all acres looked perfectly even, showing that one farming community after the other had planted the crop at around the same time, give or take a day or two, the length changing an inch or two. I wondered what they would be doing in the dark now, with the suffocating heat and stillness of the night being their only company. They must have been used to it by now, just as much as I am not to the claustrophobia of a corner seat.
I wonder if taking a pill for the sleep will help. If I don't get enough sleep with the pill on, I would feel groggy the whole of the next day, spoiling half of the weekend in effect. Only coffee and a good night's sleep later that night would be of help.
The bus makes two stops - the first at Reliance's dhaba called A-1, and the second, a place close to Adoni, where they serve cigarettes ("ultra milds nahi hai"), tea and unruly orange juice.
And each time I return back, there is little that changes in the settings - the plexiglass remains the same, the water occasionally is visible, though in small globulets, and for many many miles all I can see is reduced to one single color and dimension, not green, but a color born from the kaleidoscope of all that one can see from 20000 feet up in the air. I still retain my claustrophobia and giving company to it, is the fear of heights.