Sunday, 12 October 2008
Reality struck me when the bus halted at the CMBT bus stop entrance and the sounds of Trisulam, Airport filled the air. I was journeying from Madanapalle, a small town in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai by the APSRTC (Andra Pradesh State Transport Corporation Bus). The sounds that jolted me were from an Auto driver who was keen to get passengers and end his day. It was raining and therefore I grabbed the chance and jumped into the auto (My otherwise strong bargaining skills were put to rest by the rain and the urgency to hit home). Then we (the auto driver and I) started the journey towards Meenambakkam, the place where I stay. Five minutes after we commenced the journey, I was accosted with the question from the auto driver (AD, hereafter) "Where are you coming from?" I was once again shaken from my reverie of watching the rain and the landscape that changes after the rains. "Madam, where are you coming from?" I mumbled a vague answer "Madanapallee." He was satisfied and again, "Madam, are you from here or are you from Andhra?" Now I was getting impatient. I answered "Chennai." Then, "Madam do you work here or there?" Me: I am not working, I am still studying. The AD: Madam, are you studying to become a doctor? Well, the truth was that I was studying to become a doctor but not the doctor he was referring to but a doctor of letters. Well, then the AD asked me "Madam, are you married?" Strange questions but I liked the way he struck a familiar and easy way or conversing with an absolute stranger. I answered "No." He started off, "Madam get married a little late and do not have kids until five years get completed after your marriage. Have five years for enjoyng life with your husband. Travel everywhere. See different places, meet people and enjoy doing together the things you like." I was all ears. Then he started, "Look at me, I got children immediately and all plans of me travelling went wasted. I would love to visit many places but taking the kids would cost me a lot and that's why I tell you don't hurry with things." While talking to me he was peering into the rear view mirror to look into my eyes and talk. he know the art of talking with strangers. He spoke quite a lot of things about life, politics, the state of economy, the policies of the government, the family life and an assortment of funny anecdotes and happenings from his immediate life. We were no longer strangers. We knew each other's names. In case, you're wondering about the time . . . Our journey was for about half an hour or more as it was a long drive on a rainy day from Koyembedu to Meenambakkam. When we reached our destination, he gave me his number and said, "Do call me when you need an Auto in Koyembedu." The rains coupled with the vibrant conversation was one unforgettable journey.