Thursday, November 18, 2004

Balle Balle: Amdavad to LA….oops!!! Dilli

Amdavad, as it is indigenously referred to by the so-called Gujjus; living in Ahmedabad had been delight for me since the past three years that I’ve been staying. Umpteen number of annual holidays that too officially declared by the state govt. adds to the pleasure thanks to the festive people of Gujarat. The occasion this time around was Lakshmi Pujan or Deepawali, as it is popularly known.

We guys, the seven musketeers, were on our way from Ahmedabad to Delhi to celebrate the fete with family and friends. We thought of boarding an evening train but without any railway ticket, as they say, it could not have been any worse. We reached the local station. Looking at the bunch of crappy, stinking people that were crowding in, we decided otherwise. We thought of making our journey by bus. A wise thought indeed, it became one of the most memorable, well not for the plus, I assure you, journeys that I have ever had.

We boarded a local bus to Udaipur at midnight. The bus-wallah delayed the bus because the passengers were not ‘over-loaded’ yet. We wasted about an hour-and-a-half loitering around, finding other means of transport and/or fighting with the travel agent. None of the travel agent or the bus driver gave a damn to the calls of the passengers to move-on. Over the years, I have always experienced one thing living in India and that is, the service provider once paid for the service does not give a darn any further to the consumer. In this case as well, the agent was after our lives till the time we hadn’t paid the bus fare but once it was done with, he never bothered to respond to any of the further queries. At that moment, for the first time, I admired the principles of customer relationship management that are usually taught in B-schools across the country.

We reached Udaipur at 6 in the morning. The weather was cold and all of us guys cared for a cup of coffee. We needed to go to Jaipur but since, there was no bus scheduled, we boarded a jeep. The jeep driver, promised to move on in 15 mins. finally got us going at 7:30. Once again, we all were disgusted and appalled the cab driver with harshness but to no avail. Merry with the speed with which we were cruising, the moods of all swayed to jovial. We saw various old temples as well as forts; one where Liz Hurley stayed for a couple of days on her trip to India a week past. All of us chittered-chattered on the way and kept pulling the leg of the driver. Once when going at about 120 Km/h, the driver told us,”Jor se pakdo”, and I shot back,”kisko???”. We landed at Jaipur at about 4 in the noon and went straight to the inter-state bus station.

Luckily, we got a deluxe bus immediately which took us through the rest of the journey. We reached Delhi at 11 in the night and it took me an hour further. By the time I reached home, I was badly fatigued after such a gruesome journey that I thought surely was the journey…that went into eternity.