Sunday, April 15, 2007

Wish I were a child again

There are two routes to go from Bangalore to my home town Kota. One is through Hassan-Mangalore, and other through Shimoga. The former carries lot of traffic and usually buses ply at night only. As a child, I always liked the later route. Only by that route, we would start our journey (from Kota) by early evening. At the Kundapur bus stand my father and Uncle (so nice of them) would get busy buying tickets and securing seats for all of us in that red bus. There would be one window seat fought for among we three cousins. Usually elders intervene... and invariably a seat sharing formula would be devised... amicable to all the parties involved. Half an hour into the drive, we would have forgotten all our differences and all three of us would be looking out of the same window. After all, what good is a good scenery if you can not show it to some one and admire together? Happiness is nothing if you have no one to share it with ;-)

To cut the long story short, we would wait for that treacherous mountain pass to get the enchanting view of the sunset. The driver used to be considerate. If he reached the spot a couple of minutes ahead of time, he would make up some lame reason to stop. We would get out and take a leak... in the middle of no where... Sunset always used to be breath taking... That red ball of fire, no longer had the intensity to burn... But only to fill the entire sky with colors that had no name for... Soon after the sunset, (sometimes even before one) some body would shout at the driver for the delay and we would be asked to board again... I never understood what was the hurry.

Next attraction along the way would be the well lit tea-stalls - some by petromax... some by tube lights... and some by our very own dim Mysore lamps... There were hundreds of them and we would not stop in any one of them... May be that is what attracted us to them... seen a lot of them, but ate in none.

Some times, the sibling rivalry for the window seat would flare up again... and I used to go all the way to front of the bus to stand behind the driver... Now I had a much bigger window to look at ;-) After twilight, I would be amazed that the number of animals on the road. Dogs, wild cat and abandoned cattle... their eyes glow when they watch the oncoming vehicles... When my fatigue would match up to the enthusiasm, I would doze of standing there... Little later, I would be back to seat next to my mother's and curl up on her lap. My father must have been the transporter ;-)

Now, I go to my home town couple of times a year... Typical journey involves - first of all being alone. Secondly, I go to sleep even before the bus gets out of Bangalore... and wake up to the honking noises of local buses of Mangalore. Getting a good night's sleep has taken over the priority. When I chose buses, I do not see the route it takes, but the time it reaches Kota. It has been years since I have seen a proper Sunset... Ages since I saw a sunrise (apart from mountain peaks during trekking). How pathetic...

Some once said - "For a child the journey is as important as the destination". How true. I miss being one.

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