Hello, friends. I’ve been meaning to write this piece for the past 3 years. Yes – you’ve read it right – 3 years. Well… they say better late than never. So here goes. It all started in Sept 2012 when I had to go drop my wife at her home in Kerala. She was to deliver our child soon. That journey seems to be the shortest… just 18 hours… but the hours turned to minutes and minutes vanished in seconds. Before I could realize, I had already reached her place – no matter how much I prayed that time freeze for me. It didn’t have mercy on me. My sojourn ended abruptly when with a heavy heart I left her in the caring hands of her parents and started the eternal journey back to Mumbai.
This was first of my many such travels and the travails associated with them. The very fact that she was not there with me – that she was miles away from me was an incentive grand enough for me to make one long trip after another – mostly by bus. The very mention of a bus journey sent chills down many a family members and acquaintances’ spines. They could never contemplate sitting through such a long bus journey – but it came easily to me. I found it effortless. I focussed only on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The end justifies the mean or so they say. It was true – when I considered the happy reunion, what if for only a few hours, I found the long journey to be a walk in the park.
I’m sorry I forgot to add my itinerary. It was simple – board the bus from Sheetal Nagar (Mira Road) – get down at Milagres Church (mostly), Hampankatta, Mangalore. Then a 7-minute walk led me to Mangalore Central railway station where Yeshwantpur Express would take me to my destination. I was categorically asked by my Sasur Ji to disembark at Cheruvattur (CHV) so he could get a parking spot easily. Also, it was kinda closer to their place. I happily obliged – as long as he drove me home, I couldn’t care less. The 17-18 hour long penance was rewarded handsomely (you know it already by now).
Now you may want to ask me – don’t you WORK, as in… have a job? Leaves? So many of them? Really? Government job? No. no. no. I’m smart, you see. At least these journeys made me smart. I worked my way around the beaten tracks and clubbed my work offs to make a long weekend. A blessed soul always helped me in this mission critical… my ex-TL. Whenever she saw my performance drop, she proactively suggested that I embark on that trip and come back refreshed. I couldn’t have asked for more. And go I did. Why bus – once again – I’m smart. Indian Railway is the only government run institution which does not believe in providing reservation to the needy. Buses are a different game altogether. I ALWAYS got a bus ticket. Flights can be expensive and I am not an emotional fool to vaporize my hard earned money when I have better (though slower) options. Pragmatic’s the word.
A self-proclaimed hypersomniac that I am, no journey is a challenge for me. Getting bored – that’s the last thing I would be concerned about. Once again – my hypersomnia helps me – always. Just a few minutes after the bus starts moving, I’m lost in a reverie – waking up only to pee or to sip a cuppa tea or java. All that mattered to me at that time is her face and how it lit up and turned resplendent upon seeing me. That one moment justified all the hardships. I couldn’t care less about my travails. Well said – no pain, no gain. Knowing very well that all good things must come to an end or maybe that all good things come in small packets… I still enjoyed each moment spent with her.
The journey back home was agreeably painful – but that dark cloud had a silver lining – yet another trip next month. There was no stopping me!!! I shuttled back and forth, almost every month and learned why some wise man said: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. And well this hypersomniac enjoys the scenic beauty too. I kept capturing beautiful locales every now and then. The long hours mattered to me no more. The distance was just a number then. I learned a few Thulu phrases too – after all those bus journeys, what else do you expect.
After 3 such sets of trips, I had another and heavenly reward waiting for me at the end of my 4th trip – my daughter, my little angel, my princess, our bundle of joy who opened her eyes to this world in November. My joy knew no bounds and even the onward journey seemed endless. This time, it got protracted too. I had to reach the Maternity hospital In Kanhangad and this hypersomniac went insomniac that day. Every mile seemed a lightyear. Seconds turned into hours. The impatience grew on me or may I say I grew thin with impatience. At the end of this excruciatingly long journey – I was conferred one of the biggest honors ever bestowed to a (married) man – I was a FATHER – achhan to my daughter. I was on the proverbial cloud 9 and refused to get off it. Man – what a day!!! All I could think of was my baby (wifey – don’t kill me – it’s a natural feeling). I did not want to return. Well… all good things and that trip had to come to an end and this ‘bird of passage’ had to return to its humble nest.
Now that these journeys and sojourns find a neat place in the pages of my history, I’d like to close this book lest it should gather even one spec of dust. Not allowed. But it definitely kept the vagabond/hobo/backpacker/voyager in me alive and kicking. This is how traveling, which was a hobby to me, turned into a passion. A passion that will go down with me to the grave – or so I endeavor.