Sunday, March 4, 2012

When Journey Meant More Than Destination

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 25; the Silver Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is 'When Journey Meant More Than Destination'.
“Sir you want AC or non-AC?”
“What is the difference?”
“Non-Ac bus has no AC sir, AC bus…”
“I know that, what is the difference in price?”
“Sir, AC bus is 100 rupees more.”
“Book non-AC, I don’t see a good reason to pay a hundred more for AC.”
“Sir, summer has already started you sure you want to travel in non-AC?”
“It’s okay if I feel hot I will open the window. I want a good seat I will not travel in your bus if you give me a seat near the wheel.”
“No sir, the entire bus is empty, it is the exam season and middle of the week the few people travelling back have all booked the AC bus, you are the third person to book a seat in this bus, sir.”
“Only three, wow! What time is the bus?”
“It leaves at 10:30 and it will reach Bangalore by 6:00 am, sir”
“That’s good.”
“You still have about 5 hours sir you can go to the beach it is a nice place to spend some time, sir.”
“Ya I have been to the beach I will come back at 10:30, thanks boss.”

I have never quite enjoyed travelling and the bus journey of them all has been the most painful. Walking down the road towards the beach, I felt it would be apt if I bid goodbye to Mangalore and the Sunday watching the sun go down the horizon.
The cool breeze from the sea, aroma from the chat stalls, shouts of kids playing along with the roar of the waves splashing the beach filled the air.
Walking towards the waves I looked at the sea, the horizon dotted with ships foreign bound, the setting sun that looked to have sparked a fire setting ablaze the water and the sky, sharing the sight with me stood a few couple hand in hand looking at the sun and then at each other only to blush away with a smile plastered on their face.   

“Sir you are early, it is still 10:00 pm.”
“Yes, I know I will wait here.”
“You can come and sit inside sir.”
“No it is okay, you said only three people had booked how come so many people are waiting?”
“No sir these people are waiting for the AC bus, it leaves at 10:15”

Nodding my head I walked away from the booking office to wait by the road, as I stood looking at the lights passing by I heard a voice of an old lady,
“Please my dear can you exchange seats with me?”

A little curious I turned in the direction of the voice to look at an old lady talking to a girl who stood with straight hair tied into a pony that fell onto her back. Slowly I moved to catch a glimpse of the girl, soft fair cheeks, lips with a hint of rosy pink that parted ways to give raise to a beautiful smile, black eyes and think curled eye lashes, slowly she filled my eyes as I stood there watching the most beautiful I had ever seen.

“The booking fellow tells me that my seat is right above the wheel but I have a very weak back. Can you please exchange seats with me?”
“Okay aunty here you can have my seat.”
"Thank you my dear, you remind me of my grand daughter, thank you so much."

I would have never done that I smirked as I watched them exchange tickets I wanted to turn away but her smile I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
Walking away from the lady she stood a few feet from me, cursing my rotten luck and my cheapness for opting for the non-AC bus I turned away with a heavy heart.

“Excuse me.”
I heard a sweet voice call me out as I turned to see her standing by my side with a smile, trying hard to control but with a huge smile pasted on my face I spoke,  
“Hi, you wanted me… I mean you wanted to talk to me?”
“I just wanted to know if you were in the 10:15 bus.”
“No I am in the 10:30 bus but please tell me what can I do for you?”
“I just wanted to know what time the bus is coming. Those guys at the booking counter don’t seem to know a thing.”
“Ya I know these lazy guys have no track of time I tell you my bus is at 10:30 and I am already here waiting, these people don’t even bother to…”
“Ya… can you please ask them what time my bus is gonna be here.”
“Yes right away.” I turned to walk away it was like I had 
suddenly contracted a flu of stupidity, pearls of stupidity is all that seemed to fall out of my big mouth. I had not walked a few steps from her when the guy from the booking counter ran up to me,

“Sir, I wanted to talk to you. We are upgrading you to AC bus we have only three booking for non-AC bus we will go into a loss if we run a bus for three people.”
I looked up immediately to see if the God’s up above were smiling down at me, thoughts of hugging the guy and dancing had flooded my mind when he spoke out loud,
“Don’t worry sir you don’t need to pay any extra.”
Quickly turning to see if she heard him I saw her smiling at me, smacking my forehead I spoke
“No I will pay the extra it is okay, what time is the bus coming it is already 10:10 even madam is waiting.”
“Don’t worry sir the bus will be here sharp at 10:15.”
“Are you sure about that?” She walked up to us to join in
“Yes madam, don’t worry at all.”
“Sir but the seat that is empty is right above the wheel but you don’t worry I will get it exchanged with someone later.”
“No it is perfectly fine, I actually like sitting near the wheel.”
“But you said…”
“No I enjoy sitting near the wheel.”
“Oh… Oh okay sir.” He winked at me and then looked at her with a sly smile.

“What was that all about?” She asked without a hint of a smile on her face
“Not sure these guys often get confused they meet so many passengers, I actually never spoke to him about anything and he just got confused. It is quite surprising…”
“It is quite surprising that you can speak without breathing.” She smiled as I shut my mouth to smile back at her.
“It is a bug I am taking pills for it.”
“Sounds like a big one when did it bite you, it sounds very new.”
“Yes just this evening.” I smiled as she turned away with a blush
“I am Arjun I didn’t get your name.”
“Priya, that is a beautiful name.”
“I don’t think so.”
“No it is I think it is a really beautiful name.”
“I hate it and I also hate people who say they like my name. I think it is dumb.”
“Now that you say it, it is okay but you are so beautiful so anything associated with you automatically becomes beautiful.”
Immediately she burst out into laughs
“You mister, I was trying to pull your leg but you are very good with words.”
“Well when I am in company of excellence, the best comes out of me.”
“Okay I think you should stop now, you have my attention.”

Looking at each other we shared a smile. Nodding my head I looked at the ticket the guy had handed me,

“What is your seat number, Arjun?
“Why are you smiling, what happened is 21 a bad number?”
“No nothing it is just that I exchanged seats with an old lady and the now my seat number is 22.”
“Okay, I don’t know if I have to feel flattered or afraid by that smile on your face Arjun.”
“Flattered of course but only till the lights go off.” I broke into a loud laughter
“Not funny Arjun I think I will get my seat exchanged.”
“No, I am sorry it is a bug I tell you it is a bug I am taking pills, it is so painful.”
“Ya I know you told me already and it is not so funny the second time around.”

In silence I stood not knowing what to talk looking away from me she looked at the road. A dull yellow painted bus slowly came to halt by her side. Pulling my bag over my shoulder I walked towards the bus to join her.

“Do you mind if I sit by the window, Arjun.”
“Yes sure no problem at all, how can I say no to you, please the seat is all yours.”
“Remind me later to introduce you to the simple ‘Yes’ reply, one word says a lot.”
“No, Yes I will remind you.”
“You know I have to give it to you, you are funny in your own stupid irritating way.”
“A compliment and a slap it sure is my lucky day.”
She broke into a laugh and spoke
“You are cute…”
“In a sexy way”
“No more like a puppy dog way.”
“Well, take it as it comes and it is not every day I get complimented by a beautiful girl.”
“Okay…” She turned away hiding the smile that lit her face and the cheeks that turned pink with a blush.
“I don’t talk to strangers and never have I gotten so close so quick to anyone you are just…”
“No not special, God you never give up.”
“Hey my mum thinks I am special.”
“Well she has to console herself somehow.”
“And there we have it right on the cheek.”
She broke into soft laughs as she watched me mock a slap on my cheek.
“I am just glad you are here to talk to, I just hate travelling in the bus.”
“Me too, I just can’t fall asleep in a bus.”

“Arjun, Arjun.”
“What? Where?”
“I thought you said you could never fall asleep in a bus.”
“No I just closed my eyes for a minute.”
“A minute? You have been asleep for four hours now.”
“Really four hours it felt like a minute, I am so sorry.”
“I guess I can’t blame you it is okay but I am surprised you slept through such bad roads.”
“I am really sorry I was a little tired, but what were you doing for four hours?”
“I was just watching you sleep and getting…”
“You were watching me sleep, I don’t know if I have to feel flattered or afraid…”
“Ha, ha, ha not funny Arjun, I was getting irritated watching you sleep.”
“Hey, why aren’t we moving?”
“I think the bus had broken down or something a couple of people got down but I am not sure what the issue is which is why I woke you up.”
“Wait let me check.”

“What took you so long?”
“No nothing it is just a flat but they will take at least 20 minutes to fix it.”
“Why did they have to switch off the AC it is so hot in here.”
“There is a cool breeze blowing outside you wanna step out?”
“Okay, but I am only coming out with you because it is too stuffy in here.”

As we walked out to the road the cool breeze greeted us, walking away from the men filling the air with smoke we wandered into the full moon lit road with an occasional vehicle zipping past us.

“It is such a beautiful night.” She smiled as we stopped by a mile stone a few yards away from the bus.
“Yes and your smile just adds to it.”
“Ya, ya.”
“So other than hopelessly flirting with girls what else do you do?”
“Hopelessly.” I smiled as she turned away with a smile
“I don’t know why I am smiling it is just…”
“May be it is just a bug.”
“Smart ass.” She slapped my hand softly.

“So Arjun Sahib what do you do for a living?”
“Well, I am the lord of cubicle number 133 in a software company. What about you?”
“Me I am just a lowly interior designer.”
“And I thought I had the worst job.”
“Hey my job is fun I get paid to shop and I get to tell rich ladies that their taste is not…”
“Good enough for their own homes.”
“Yes sort of but a little sugar coated.”
“What do you do when you are not decorating other people’s homes?”
“You mean like a hobby?”
“Hobby, I stopped using the word hobby after 10th standard.”
“Oh 10th that was a fun year, I filled so many slam books with a different hobby in each, things were so silly back then.”

“I remember my 10th standard I filled all the slam books with the same, my hobby is: Watching T.V, listening to music. To think of it I was a lamest kid in class it was bad enough I mentioned T.V and music as hobbies, I would later go on to defend them with anyone who mocked at my hobbies. I would ask them, what do you mean by hobby? Things you do when you are free, right? I watch T.V and listen to music in my free time so they are my hobbies.”
“I am sorry I am not laughing at you but that is so…”
“Then there were a few who filled collecting stamps as their hobby, there would always be that one jack-ass who would comment ‘It is not collecting stamps it is called Philately, it is bad enough you are collecting worn out stamps that no one wants anymore and now you give it a fancy name.”
“Hey I used to collect stamps.”
“It is philately Priya not collecting stamps.”

We both burst into laughter as she spoke
“God I miss school, things were so simple back then.”
“I miss school too, you could do the most foolish of things and your friends would still sit laughing with you.”
“What was the silliest thing you have ever done in school?”
“Me not many, I was one of the smarter ones.”
“Ya right, come one Arjun.”
“Sir the bus is ready to leave.” The conductor shouted out to us
“I am not letting you go you will have to speak after we get to our seats.”

“The silliest thing I have ever done, huh.”
“Yes, the silliest thing Mr. Arjun has ever done.”
As I searched for a right one through the hundreds of memories that filled my head, she sat with the most beautiful smile on her face and eyes filled with excitement in wait for me to speak. Before I opened my mouth I uttered a small prayer in my head hoping this journey with her would never end.

“Okay, there was this one girl who was new to school very shy type but she was so prett…”
“What happened? Why did you stop?”
“No, so there was this very okay looking girl who for God knows why I wanted to talk to…”
“Oh, Arjun you are so stupid. Continue, there was this pretty girl and.”
“Okay if you say so, there was this very pretty girl who I wanted to talk to but I never could get past Hi and homework. It was Feb already and my chances of getting to know her looked slim so I came up with this brilliant plan. I walked into class one day with a Slam book in my hand and announced to the class that I was moving to another school for the next academic year and I wanted everyone to fill the book. I went up to each one personally and got them to fill it up.”

“Oh that was so cute Arjun.”
“Yes but it soon blew up in my face.”
“Did she refuse to write in your slam book?”
“No she was sweet, we started talking and became friends but my best friend he came home that evening to give me a gift, my mom had sent me to buy milk, she saw the gift and told him I was not moving anywhere and all that was just a silly prank. He wanted to outsmart me and told the whole class the next day.
God I was so embarrassed when I walked into class, at the end of the day I really wanted to change schools.”   

She burst into laughter, looking around at the sleepy passengers she spoke
“What happened to that girl you still in touch with her?”
“At first she didn’t want to talk to me her mum had told her to stay away from liars and pranksters. But later on I won her heart with my charming ways and yes I am still in touch with her.”
“Oh, Mr. Charming is still in touch with the pretty girl from school do I smell a special relation here.”
“No Madam she tied Rakhi when we reached 8th and she is happily married in America now. “
“Too bad but that was a very cute story Arjun.”

“One thing I hated about school was Rakhi; the minute a girl gets to know you have a crush on her she would be ready with a Rakhi in her hand the very next day. Every Raksha bandhan I would come back home with Rakhis tied up to my sleeves. My best friend, Pradeep would often go hide in the toilet on Raksha Bandhan but the girls would get to him too somehow.”
“Sounds like you made a lot of sisters in school.”
“Every single girl I had a crush on…”
“Not every single girl.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean not every single girl you have had crush on wants to be 
your sister.”
“I didn’t get that.”
“Oh God forget it.”
“Thank God we are in a bus and there is no one selling Rakhi here.”
“Ya I would have tied two on both your hands just to be on the safer side, moron.”

She looked away from me and closed her tired eyes, I knew what she was hinting at I could feel the spark too. I looked at her as the moon light that crept through the window lit her face up, all I had was a single prayer in my heart ‘God let me not say anything wrong to piss her off, please.’ I felt like I was diffusing a time bomb here one wrong move and she would just walk away.

“What are you thinking?”
“You can talk to me Arjun, what are you thinking?”
“You have been asleep for the last four hours I thought you hated sleeping in a bus.”
“I said I hated travelling in a bus not sleeping mister. Now tell me what were you thinking?”
“No, I think we have entered Bangalore. I was just thinking why we had to reach so soon.”
“I know it has been such fun Arjun.”

Fun? I had spent the last four hours planning the next 30 years with her. The most beautiful night for me was just fun for her? The biggest mistake we guys do is falling in love too quickly and start thinking she is the one but her typical of a woman, have fun and move on…

“Actually, okay I can’t believe I am saying this but it has been more than fun. It was one those journeys for me where I could have cared least about the destination. I really…”
“Love you?”
“No, love is a really strong word for now.”
“I will settle for like.”
“You never give up, do you?”
“Try try but never give up. No wait that doesn’t rhyme. Try try but never cry.”
She smiled as she slapped me softly.
“Rajajinagar 1st Block, 1st Block.” The conductor shouted out to wake everyone around.
“Okay Arjun this is where I get off. We should…”
“This is where I get off too. Where do you stay?”
“Just close by.”

Pulling out the bag from the overhead compartment we walked out of the bus, we stood in silence for a minute not knowing what to say next,

“So… Is it okay if I call you sometime Priya?”
“I think it will be not okay if you don’t give me call after this journey. Give me your number I will give you a missed call so you can save my number.”
Breaking into soft laughs we exchanged numbers as a few auto wallahs hovered around.

“Priya, where do you live I will get you an auto?”
“I live close by, what about you?”
“I live close by too.”
“Liar, your smile just gives it away.”
“I know.” Holding her hand softly I spoke,
“Priya, do you want to continue on this beautiful journey with me?”
“Arjun, how do I say this, you are sweet but I just think you are moving too fast too soon.”
“No I just meant do you wanna share an auto with me.” I burst into laughter
“Jack-Ass.” She smacked my arm.
“Let me get an auto before you kill me.”

“Hop in Priya and…”
“Let us continue our journey ahead.”
“Oh Priya you never give up do you, you are sweet and all but I 
just think you are moving too fast too soon.”
She smacked my arm hard as we both broke into laughs. Before I could open my mouth she spoke,
“Well you know what an ass-hole once told me, Try try but never cry.” 

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aativas said...

The conversation in the story sounds very natural .. but I wonder whether a girl would be choose to travel with a boy in the overnight bus going to Bangalore. But maybe that is possible. Things and times keep on changing.

Say Cheese said...

:) very nice, smile bringing story Harsha. :)

Harsha Chittar said...

@Aativas: Oh I have seen this happen a lot of times always curious as to what they would talk to get so close so quick I penned down this story :)
@Say Cheese: Thanks :)

viva_andya said...

again a story where a BOY meets GIRL and they kick-start their journey together. albeit very predictable it was an 'ok' read. ATB

Animesh Ganguly said...

I liked the way you ended it too :)

D2 said...

The characters had a very happy-go-lucky nature. Nice.
All the best for BAT. :)

Anonymous said...

Quite a long story, but the sweetness kept me hooked :) Loved the flow and at places it sounds quite fictitious and at places quiet real, and the blend was perfect :)

Anonymous said...

it was sweet, flirty, natural.. the conversation flowed very well.. liked it..

Someone is Special said...

cuteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee journey.. Arjun and Priya ~ Beautiful, loved your choice of words... :-)

Sweta said...

When i saw the length of the post.. I thought of giving up...but I loved the cute story...!!

Best of Luck for BAT :)

Dishit D said...

loong story...but kind of enjoyed it :)
all the best for BAT

Enchanta said...

Well, not the conventional kind of girl I guess, a little less wary about safety!

All the bets for BAT