Diary Entry – 37
There are some people in my family who will spend their entire fortune to travel a few kilometers without any form of discomfort. I have made it my life's aim to show these people there are cheaper ways to travel, without losing out on comfort.
Travelling in an auto-rikshaw was once a luxury for the people in Chennai. Rickshaw guys were an association of crooks a few years ago. I still remember how the rickshaw guy cleverly ripped me off during my 6th grade on a rainy day when I was late for school. He told me it was eighteen rupees to travel where I wanted to go. When I reached the place, I paid him twenty rupees and asked him to keep the two rupee change. He told me to pay up sixty more. He said we agreed on 80 rupees and I had heard it wrong as 18. The twenty rupees was all the money I had. Mom gives me that to buy samosas if I was hungry. She is sometimes worried I will die out of malnutrition. I was gracious enough to give him the two rupees as tips but that was not enough for him.
But things have changed since the time I was in 6th grade. Autos (or share autos) have become a lot cheaper now. When I came back from hostel late one night, I hired an auto to go home. The guy dropped me off near my house and he asked me for only ten rupees. Five years ago, I would have paid two hundred to travel the same distance. I made a mental note not to travel by bus ever again when I had these super comfortable and super cheap rickshaws. I could not have been more mistaken about the comfort part. The first time was very late in the night and there were only two other passengers in the auto. The second time however was a nightmare. There were twenty two people in the auto. The drivers change the design of the vehicle to accommodate more passengers. The auto could accommodate only ten people even after all the modifications. But the driver was determined in taking more. He started the ignition only when one of the passengers yelled at the driver in crude Tamil, “There is no space you fool. If you want one more passenger, he has to park his ass on my face. You better start the auto now, I have waited long enough.”
The next day I took the bus. Once I got in the bus, the driver starts yelling ulla po pa, ulla po pa (go inside, go inside). I am pushed into the centre of the bus to realize I am surrounded by women. A LOT of women. I was like the guy in the AXE effect ad, with females crushing me from all side, except it was not the Victoria secret models, which made things very unpleasant for me. It was a bunch of old ladies and small school girls. When a chick is surrounded by a group of men, men have the decency to maintain a distance of one foot radius around them (except for gropers). But what do the women do when a guy is stuck in their midst? They squeeze his life out.
So that evening, I thought I will try out the last option for transportation – asking dad to pick me up. My dad shows up late for everything. It is sort of like his personality trait. So in the afternoon I tell him to come pick me up in the evening from the Tambaram station. He asked me to get down at the previous station which is called Sanitorium. He told me it will be easier for him to pick me up from there. Since my dad is no paragon of punctuality, I tell him I reached Sanitorium even before I board the train in Nungambakam which is 30Kms away. Every ten mins I call him up and yell at him telling him, I have been waiting for so long and he has not even got here. But I am still in the train.
When I finally reached Sanitorium, I expected him to wait there fuming. But my dad is nowhere in sight. I call him up the tenth time, the first time I am calling him up after actually reaching the station:
Me: ACHA. WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU? I HAVE BEEN STANDING HERE FOR HALF AN HOUR.
Dad: I am on my way... *Phone Cut*
After 15 mins. I call again.
Me: If you can’t come, I can come to tambaram....
Dad: I am coming wait. *Phone Cut*
Me: .... and take a bus home.
30 mins later.
Dad: I am nearing the station now. Where are you standing?
Me: I am standing where you asked me to stand.
Dad: Where is that?
Me: Near the Sanitorium Subway.
Dad: WHAT? YOU TOLD ME YOU ARE IN TAMBARAM. I AM IN TAMBRAM STATION NOW.
Me: No I said I can come to tambaram if you can’t come.
Dad: I DONT HAVE THE TIME TO PLAY YOUR GAMES.
Me: Acha I have been calling you for the past one hour, telling you I am waiting in Sanitorium. I know you think I am gifted, but I have not been blessed with the power of teleportation to be here for one hour and then instantly appear ten kilometres away.
Dad: Wait I will come pick you up. *Phone Cut*
So I ended up waiting an extra half an hour for my dad to pick me up. Going in an over cramped share auto looked like travelling in a limousine now.
The discomfort of suffocation and lack of space is nothing compared to the torture of waiting.
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