“Go drop the vehicle off and I’ll ask Siddha to come pick you up.” offered my dad. Being almost obsessive-compulsive about rejecting offers for favours I said “No, I’ll take the bus on the way back. Why send him there?”. But my father being who he is, it was settled that I’d call up after dropping the car off at the service center and if Siddha was at hand, he’d come and pick me up.
Now the service center itself stood at an interesting place. It was right next to the Rajarajeshwarinagar RTO, some 500m from my Alma Mater, RVCE, close to a railway gate, around 1.5Kms from the Bangalore University gate. To get home from there, I could just wait for a bus that would go all the way to Kengeri and then thread its way up towards Nagarabhavi (a total distance of close to 12 Kms), or take a bus, alight at the University gate, wait for another bus till the University Quarters and then hitch onto another bus towards home, for a total of only 5 Km!
Given this, just as I was finishing off at the service center, I got a call from home saying the Siddha was around, and I asked him to come over to the railway gate near the Indian Statistical Institute (the brain-child of PC Mahalanobis). I walked along till the railway gate and positioned myself close to the railway line to avoid any road noise and so that I could get to hear what my iPod had to play. The tracks were surprisingly stink-free and I didn’t have much trouble standing there, and soon started hoping some train would pass by.
Five minutes happened. And then ten. Soon it was fifteen. Having had no breakfast I started feeling my stomach cramp up. The weather, which was pleasant when I started, now felt hot, humid and unbearable. And then a siren went off. I looked around for an ambulance or a fire engine and by some instinct I moved a few steps forward. Turned out it was the gates closing down and I had been standing right in the path of the downward swing of the railway crossing gate! An amazingly red coloured train with ads painted all over it with no space unspared ran by with people hanging on from all ends and openings. Within a few seconds the gates opened and it was back to business as usual and waiting for Siddha.
All this while I had tried calling him, only to find his phone switched off. Soon a passing guy had something funny to tell me. I eagerly paused the music and asked him to repeat what he had to say. He opened his palm and showed me a bunch of coins and asked for “Two rupees change for bus”. I wondered why he needed change when he already had coins, but opened my wallet to find two Rs. 2 coins. I showed one to him with a “that’s all I have” expression, only to see him collect it from my hand and walk away after a “Thanks” and a smile!
Left two rupees poorer and getting angrier by the minute, I walked over to the bus shelter, built in a mock Hoysala style (but considering that I see Hoysala style in everything these days, it could also be mock-Tippu style) and stood in the shade keeping an eye out for our man.
After a few minutes, one guy leant over to say something. I promptly paused my music and strained my ears. “Rate kya hai aapka ek hour ka?” he asked. I tried comprehending what he had to say, but before that I knew there was nothing honourable coming out of this line of questioning. “Jao yahaan se” I barked as the first reaction and walked back to near the railway gate. I tried understanding what he wanted to ask, but deciding that it might not lead to anywhere pleasant, I dropped all attempts and concentrated on waiting for Siddha.
After close to 30 minutes, deciding that I had now reached an agreeable time-out period, I called my dad up and told him I’d be taking the bus home. A bus came in and I got in, only to see “Siddha calling” on my cellphone. “Where are you?” he asked. “Bus-alli” I returned, but the thought of taking an auto home was still welcoming in the Sun and hunger. I got down at the University gate and he followed the bus there and picked me up.
“Why so late?” I barked. “Road is bad through the University. Kengeri route thogonde” he offered, not the least worried that there was a man waiting. I said nothing rest of the journey and figured he had gotten the message, as the usually loquacious man had nothing to say either.