He was not there!!
My eyes scurried round the bus, but soon enough stopped at the red sweatshirt by the door. There he was, talking to the driver. He was not your regular boring hunk with the bulging biceps and a smug face, but seemed more like the guy next door with a Tuesday stubble. Stubble's are good. Umm. As he made his way back to his seat, did I notice a fleeting curve across his lips? I was totally checking this guy out. What more, my subtlety was letting me down. "Behave yourself Dee!" I reprimand myself.
For the next few hours, I kept my eyes out of harms way and on the road, watching the lights run along the bus. Highways are like little children When you are around them, you seem t become a different person. They suck the worldly self out of you. Things seem so simple and clear.
I think it was Stephen Hawking or was it Donnie Darko, who said that if you have a time portal, a metal vessel travelling the speed of sound and water, you could reach the gateway of time travel. Well, I say we can do without the portal, because I certainly did go back in time on a bus on a rainy day. Nostalgia! I get reminiscent on long journeys most of the times. Thinking about the by gones, smiling to myself quietly, an odd tear maybe. I know a lot of us do. May be, it has to do with the fact that man finds his true place in the world when he is by himself.
It was one of those cold uncomfortable nights where the blanket does not seem long enough. Somewhere, sometime in the middle of which, I feel asleep. But around five in the morning, my eyes opened to some rustle bustle along the aisle. People were getting off. I sleepily look out of the window to find us parked at a rather sized station. I got down to inspect the turf. The vendors were calling out in a different tone of language than what I was accustomed to. I guessed we changed states. Well, the board was a giveaway too. It read, "Bangalore".
I had never been to Bangalore before. But it had not even dawned yet for any flamboyant changes in the itinerary now. Moreover, I was still yawning and sometimes really loudly so that I would stay awake while I walked around.
The driver informs us that Mangalore was six hours from there and that he would be starting shortly. So I hurry to the door, hands still tucked in my pockets. In my attempt to board the bus like a limbless moron, I slip my step and bundle at the door. Right in front of.. yes, Mr. Cute Guy. If it were a movie, he would have been behind me, breaking my fall and taking me by his arms. But it was NOT a movie, so I ended up a little red at the cheeks and a sore bum.
Some really green pastures mark the route from Bangalore to Mangalore. The bus travels through a ghaat road as they call it. To get a better view, I take a seat in front. As the bus serpents through the narrow roadlines, the driver becomes chatty. His show and tell stories of the accidents along the way were actually gripping. As morbid as it may sound, but I kept imagining our bus tumbling off a curve. I thought the green valleys make for great graves.
To top it off, it began to rain. I have this strange habit, I try to read patterns on the rain water running down the windows along ridges. Well, it's been more than two decades but am still largely unsuccessful at it.
It was around noon that we reached Mangalore. It was a little too big to be called a hamlet and a little too small to be called a town. But it was just right to be called beautiful.
The slopes up and down the hills, the small houses embedded between carpets of trees, the narrow lanes, the sand walls, reminded me a bit of Goa. But through all the rustic appeal, it did show signs of civilization of course.
As I boarded off, of what is my longest bus journey ever, I saw the cute guy walk off. As he got into his car, he turned and waved. I waved back. Sometimes, great love stories don't need the condition of transpiration.
With my tongue still in my cheek after that statement I made up, I ventured into my net challenge, to find a Hindi speaking taxi wallah to get me to a hotel.
"Madam, yengeli ki podu?" Pardon my Tulu.