Areille - the Lioness of God

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Planes, Boats and Automobiles!

A successful meet. It had been a whole year since all 6 of us had met up and been forever since we had met up in India. My sis wanted to make this one special. So we decided to do a Backwater tour/Resort deal in Kerala. We got ourselves rooms booked at the Lake Palace resort in Allepey and things looked amazing on the website. We kept wondering if the website was phony and what if we landed there and the place looked like a dump? It was amusing to realize later, that the place we booked was magnificent and probably better than the website portrayed, but getting to it was one family adventure we couldn't have planned.

The plan was over night bus Udupi – Bangalore. Flight from Bangalore – Cochin. And then a hired car from Cochin – Allepey. Shouldn’t be too bad? We started off on Sunday night taking the overnight bus from Udupi to Bangalore. This bus is probably one of the most convenient buses ever. We get on it at around 9p and reach Bangalore at around 5a. It’s a sleeper bus with AC and we have had many effortless travels on it before. Six of us got on it happily. My mom took out her little bag filled with mangosteens and rambutans to do the usual eat while you travel deal that all Indians seem to have in their blood. Know what I am talking about? As soon as you get on any mode of transportation, it's like a family picnic. On one of our train trips we saw the works, paper plates, dosa, chutney, chaai! What ever happened to eating at home? Anyway, back to our yummy fruits. We devoured them and then slept. We were going to be in Bangalore along with the morning sun.

I woke up. I was sweaty all over. This shouldn't be happening. We are in an AC bus. This doesn't feel AC-like for sure. Why can I hear people screaming? Oh my! The bus isn't moving! It was 1 in the morning and our bus had come to a standstill. Appeared to be a traffic jam. Some small accident had blocked traffic on the one lane highway, so the cars decided to use the opposing lane as a fast way to get out of the jam and obviously blocked oncoming traffic. So now there was just miles and miles of vehicles with no one wanting to move and obviously no traffic control. The engine had to be switched off and thus no AC. Our bus was stalled there for 3.5 hours. Global Warming didn't help either. I had skipped dinner the previous night for the want of controlling my calorie intake. Damn those calories!! I could have used some Gobi munchurian right then!!

Somewhere around 5ish the bus picked up speed. We had our flight to Cochin to catch at 1p. Initially we had thought; reach Bangalore by 5am, flight to Cochin at 1p. Gives us more than enough time to wash up, have breakfast, leave excess luggage at my aunt’s place and even time to chitchat! I now realize that any amount of buffer is equal to having none when it comes to travelling in India.

We reached our bus stop at 10a. My dad had hired a mini-bus to pick all of us. We had 8 international size suitcases which were to be left in Bangalore and then 6 strollers, one for each of us, to take to Cochin. Yes, you are right! We are foreign to the concept of 'travelling light'. We loaded ourselves into the private mini-bus. Finally ... we are here ...or so I thought! The driver informed us that my aunts place thanks to the traffic we all love, would take us at least an hour to reach. He was wrong. It took us an hour and a half. We were there at 11:30a with a flight to catch at 1p, 6 ppl wanting to shower, 14 pieces of luggage to unload and 6 to reload. Did we make it?

To be continued!