Guest Post: Mark Miranda.
August 6, 2013 § 3 Comments
I was supposed to travel to Mangalore. I took a train and got down at the train station and was wondering what to do next. I needed to take a bus to my destination. I didn’t know the regional language. English didn’t work much and I didn’t know the route. I managed to ask directions and they didn’t understand me as much as I didn’t understand them.
I got a bus that appeared to be going in that direction. Got a seat near the driver. It was a parallel seat with place for 6 or more people. A kind lady offered me the seat next to her. There were 5 people sitting and it could accommodate me in.
I looked around and I was like a foreigner in my own native. The women and the men were staring at this guy who is sitting so lost here in the front. I tried telling the conductor the destination I needed to go and I shot 3 different names hoping that at least one would get me where I wanted to go. That seemed to confuse him more and it seemed that I was booking tickets for three different people going to three different destinations. I decided to settle with the name that appeared more familiar with him and I thought I would see what to do from there. The ticket clicked. I sat quietly for the remainder of the bus. Looked at Google Maps and got a fair idea I was moving in the right direction but I didn’t know the exact stop to get down. And the bus stops are too far as this was an express bus that stopped at limited stops. So, if i did get down at the wrong stop, it would mean a very long walk in a direction that i wasn’t quite sure and it could really get me lost. On top of it, the bus conductors have the habit of shouting out the destination and the major stops. So I used to jump up every time thinking my destination has come. But in fact, it was where the bus was supposed to go and the stop was supposedly to be 30 kms away.
Sat for another half an hour and decided to do what I do best. Observe. Talking with the conductor didn’t seem to make much headway as I didn’t speak Kannada and he didn’t understand Konkanni too well. The bus that I was travelling had two entrances. People kept pouring in from both ends and shouting out the place they wanted to go to. It was extremely confusing at first. A parallel seat facing the driver that seated 6 or more people. And then the normal seating arrangement of the first three rows reserved for ladies behind the driver. There was a massive engine with some parcels and boxes.
Normally, drivers accept the parcels to be delivered to a particular stop. The parcels are nicely wrapped in tape with the address sitting clearly on the top. And now there was just one box left on the engine. It was shapeless but I could read it.
My eyes gleamed suddenly as I realized the last part of the address was the exact stop where I had to get down. I read the top part. It was a printed slip. The first part of the address was to some shop. The building name below it seemed familiar. My eyes jumped out, it was the exact same building I was to go. What a stroke of luck. The conductor after some time picked up the parcel and I felt he was actually picking my hand to guide me the way.
He saw me eyeing the parcel and wondered what was going on in my head. He readied to give the parcel. The bus slowed. I shot out like a cat from the bag. I got down and right in front of me was the building I had to go to. Coincidence. Maybe.
My family was waiting for me. It was a reunion of sorts. I had not seen any of these uncles and aunts, their children ever. It was the first time that I would be meeting this set of relatives. And it was a joyous reunion of sorts. Later my mum tells me that it was a coincidence some relatives turned up as my mum herself was able to invite a limited set of relatives as she didn’t know the exact address of all of them and neither did she have all of their contact numbers. The one’s who came along were told by word of mouth by other relatives. And they had happened to be all together at the church after mass and the word spread and they all came home. They had been waiting for me and they hadn’t even started when I reached.
I didn’t know the language. I didn’t know the area. I didn’t know the way. I must have had an angel guiding me. And if it wasn’t for a plain old parcel with the exact same address of my destination maybe I would reached someplace else and be absolutely lost. This incident happened around eight years back roughly and I had my Nokia N 73 ME which wasn’t even a smart phone like the one’s we have these days. The distance traveled by me in that bus alone was more than 30 kms.
It turned out to be a tiring journey but a joyous reunion which was more unexpected as I didn’t know that we had invited so many relatives and their families. It lasted an entire week. And maybe, that is for some other day. I hope to write more and write soon.
Or was it more…
Mark is a wonderful person i know via Twitter. He writes amazingly well on his blog here. Go follow!