A BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY!


She loves me. She loves me not. She loves me. She loves me not. She loves me….

 “Ticket ticket… Ellige sir?” the conductor asked, interrupting my daydream. I was going home from Majestic and bought the ticket to my desired destination. I started to cherish that memory again, the pretty memory of a beautiful journey.

 She had worn a pink color top with skintight jeans as the bottom half. Her black hair with a brownish tinge was quite attractive. Her slightly high-heeled red color footwear drew my attention from her face to her feet. With a whitish complexion, she was no less than a model although she had average looks. Precisely speaking that person was Neha Kalra, ‘the girl next seat’ in the Volvo A/C coach bound for Bangalore. Read on to know more about the journey…

Until yesterday, I carried the reputation of making some boring journeys. However, yesterday I decided to try something new, to create a spark. I made up my mind to travel to Bangalore by a Airavat Volvo coach. No doubt, the journey was going to be cumbersome, as it always is when the journey is lengthy. People often struggle to create a spark in their ageing relationships and similar was the case with me. I was hopelessly hoping to create a spark to make the journey memorable.   

 I reached the Pune bus station at 1700 hrs and upon enquiring at the counter; I learnt that the Airavat Volvo coach bound for Bangalore was scheduled to depart at 1745 hrs. I was trying to get my seat reserved. The driver (speaking in Kannada) told me to be seated in the bus until the Volvo transport agent, who was in charge of seat booking, arrived. I sat in seat number 16, which was beside the window seat 15 in the right half of the bus. Passengers were coming in slowly and after 10 minutes, a woman dressed in pink top and jeans entered with her friend (I assume her a friend because I did not know). The first sentence she uttered was complaining about the searing heat. She looked quite off mood. She sat right beside me, in the seat number 17, which was beside window seat 18 on the left half of the bus. Precisely speaking, though she sat beside me, there was a distance of one foot between us.

 The two girls were conversing in English. In between their conversation, the girl dressed in pink was addressed as Neha. She had average looks and I could think from their talk that Neha was traveling to Bangalore for the first time (alone and away from her family) and may be that was the reason for her off mood. My seat was unreserved yet. I was just hoping to get the same seat finally. An elderly person arrived and stood beside me. He had his seat beside mine, 15 W. The agent arrived10 minutes before departure time and booked seats for the remaining passengers who did not have tickets yet. He booked me a seat right there, number 16. I thanked him sincerely for favoring me by booking my seat right beside her though he could not make out the reason for my sincere gratitude.

 The bus clock finally hit 1745 hrs and it was the time for departure. Neha bid farewell to her friend and I hoped to fare well in the journey.

 The bus route was Pune-Kolhapur-Belgaum-Davangere-Tumkur-Bangalore by NH 4. It is one of the most beautiful highways in India. A nice highway journey with a pretty woman beside me. What more could I expect?

 I let her relax for sometime instead of just starting over with a conversation. I pulled out the India today magazine (it had the Ajmal Kasab inside story) from my bag and starting reading. She too began reading a novel. When I glanced at her, I could see the novel titled ‘Bad to Worse’. Oh my god! The novel seemed to imitate my own story.

 She was engrossed in it and even I was. After some time, without my information, she was looking at the story I was reading, the story of the killing machine, Ajmal Kasab. Probably even, she wanted to know the whole inside story. More than studying that inside story, I was thinking about how to talk, what to talk, and what not to talk with her. (Aankhen magazine mein par dimag kahin aur). I finished my so-called reading and turned to some other article, but this time with not much interest.

 Finding me uninterested in the magazine anymore, she asked, “Excuse me. Can I have that magazine if you have finished reading?”

 Oh my god! She sounded sweet. Without much thinking over it, I gave her the magazine and suggested her to read the Kasab story.

“Thanks. Yeah that is what I wanted to” she replied.

 Now the silence ice broken and platform set, I was waiting for the moment to start the conversation.

The conductor fouled my desire as he switched on the movie CHANCE PE DANCE. The movie was a flop and I had no desire to watch it. Even she did not. However, her concentration was disturbed and she stopped reading. She wore the same ‘mood off’ look again and I was looking at her snazzy footwear. She knew I was looking at it.

 1915 hrs. Hotel Natraj.

 The driver gave the first break at 1915 hrs. He stopped at a highway restaurant for 10 minutes. I was the first to go out to have a stretch of arms. She came out last. I made up my mind to invite her for a tea or a coffee. As she was strolling casually, I went up to her calm and composed.

 “ Lagta hai pehli baar ghar se dur jaa rahi hain aap. Isliye thoda mood off lag raha hai” I made a statement.

 “Yeah. Actually, I have been posted to Accenture Bangalore branch. This is the first time I am going to stay away from family. So a bit nervous and sad” she replied with her eyes slightly lit up. 

 “Arre Neha ji, please Hindi mein baat karo na. Mujhe bahut pasand hai hindi mein baat karna aur aap ka bhi shayad wahi lagta hai mother tongue” I replied with a hint of friendliness.

 “Arre aap ne mera naam bhi jaan liya! Kaise? Aapka naam toh mujhe pata nahi” she replied with a curious mind.

 I introduced myself to her and told her how I got to know her name. After knowing my name, she shot back saying

 “Oh ok. Mai Neha Kalra. Delhi se. Hey, Badarinath karke ek player hai na Chennai team mein.” she replied with signs of opening up. 

 “Arre yar isko mere naam se us cricketer ko hi yaad karna tha kya… bhagwan badarinath ko yaad nahi kar sakti thi” I said to myself.

 “Haan maine bhi suna hai. Mujhe kuch itna interest nahi hai cricket mein” I replied short and swift deviating our talk away from cricket.

 “Aap piyenge nahi chai coffee kuch bhi? Chalo na kuch peeke chalte hain” I invited her maintaining the light and friendly nature

 “Haan mai ek juice peelungi. Waise bhi bus abhi chhoot ne hi waali hai” she replied agreeing to my invitation.

 We went to the shop and she bought a Nimbooz.

“Accha hai kya taste iska?” I asked, hoping to buy the same.

“Haan acchi hai. Chai coffee se toh yehi accha hai” she replied and I bought the same.

 She had provided me some space in her public zone. I desired to get into her private zone.

 “Toh aap Pune kaise pahuch gayi? Woh aapke saath aapki friend thi kya?” I asked for more details

“Haan woh meri classmate thi college mein aur abhi Pune Accenture mein hai woh. Socha usse milke chali jaaun” she replied.

 The driver sounded the horn alerting the passengers to get back to the bus.

 While on the way back to bus, I asked her a couple of questions more about her job to which she replied and we got back to our seats.

 The bus departed and the movie resumed from where it had been paused. Boring movie.

 “Yeh aapka footwear mast hai. Attract karta hai bahut” I complimented her on her selection.

 “Haan. Ek sale mein liya tha Delhi mein. Ek saal ho gaya” she replied.

 “Kya bekaar movie hai yeh. Koi aur nahi hai kya inke paas” she expressed her disinterest for the movie.

“Haan bahut bakwaas hai” I replied supporting her statement.

 Now, as the light faded completely, there was no scope for reading. She could do nothing but watch the movie. I wanted to talk but as the music was loud, hearing each other was difficult. So reluctantly, I too watched the movie with nothing much happening between us.

 The gentleman, in his 30s, beside me started a conversation. He asked some usual questions like my name, where I was going etc. He introduced himself as Devendra. He was an employee of Volkswagen Company, which has its assembly centre in Pune and where he worked as a Design engineer. He was going for a 4-day training program in Blr. This sounded cool and he turned out to be an equally interesting person like ‘the girl next seat’. Our conversation went on for over half an hour, which was loaded with some exciting new information about the new cars that are being designed by Volkswagen. I learnt from him that Tata Motors is coming up with a car model Aria, which promises to be the most advanced in India, in terms of technology. I think we both clicked, as it was a good healthy conversation. He appreciated my profession too while I liked his. In the meantime, I was so involved with him that I almost forgot about Neha. There was a thing common in all three of us and that was the disinterest for the movie.

 2130 hrs, Hotel Sagar.

 The bus stopped at another highway restaurant Hotel Sagar, near Kolhapur, for dinner. This time I invited both of them (Neha and Devendra) for dinner. However, he did not join us since he wanted to dine with his company mate, who was traveling with him. Good for me. She was feeling hungry and so was I.

 We went up to a corner table. She ordered roti and a daal fry while I opted for Jeera rice and daal. Now, I started our conversation in detail as we had about 20-25 minutes.

 “Toh aap Engg graduate hain kya? Accenture toh ek BPO hai na?” I asked her.

 “Haan. Maine E&CE kiya hai Bharati Vidyapeeth college se. Accenture mein kaam kar rahi thi Delhi mein. Abhi Bangalore mein posting ho gayi hai. Yeh company BPO aur software dono mein hai aur main software domain mein thi” she replied in fair detail

 “Oh. Acchi baat hai. Mera bhai aur meri behen dono bhi E&CE graduates hain. Bhai Silver Atena mai hai aur didi Toshiba mein.” I replied sharing some information.

 “Delhi ke baare mein bahut suna hai. Mere kaafi college ke dost hain wahaan pe. Kabhi jaaoonga wahaan ghoomne.” I said in an attempt to make her feel homely.

 “Haan Delhi bahut accha city hai. Actually mujhe us city se itna lagaav hai ki abhi chhod ne ka dil nahi karta” she expressed her liking for the city.

 “Hmm.Mai samajh sakta hoon. Lekin aap ek baar Bangalore aayiye to sahi. Us city se bhi aapka dil lag jayega aur waapas jaane ka mann bhi shayad nahi karega.” I expressed appreciation for my city.

 “Waise aap kahaan rehne waali hain Bangalore mein. Ghar kuch hai kya?” I asked her.

 “Nahi actually kya hai ki mere dad ke bank mein unke ek colleague ki mother wahaan rehti hai. Banshankri karke ek area hai aap jaante honge. Wahaan rehti hai. Filhaal unke ghar mein rahungi. Lekin jaldi hi ek PG dhoondna padega.Pata nahi sab kaise ho payega” she detailed her plan of action

 “Arre yar tension mat lo. Bangalore mein toh itne PGs khule hain ladies ke liye khaas kar ke software professionals’ ke liye. Bahut jaldi mil jayega. Aap ko pata bhi nahi chalega aapka kuch effort lag raha karke . Itni aasani se sab ho jayega. Don’t worry.” I lent some assurance.

 This relaxed her a bit and she expressed her gratitude for that. We also discussed about the safety in the capital. I also got to know that her father was a SBI bank employee. I even explained her about my profession (though she did not take much initiative to know about it. May be she was not in a mood to ask anything as she was feeling low since evening) while I completed my food. By the time she completed her share of food, the driver had sounded the horn twice. She paid the bill, which I did not want her to do. However, she said she did it because she liked my company. What else would I want to hear in just a journey?

 We ran to our seats and off the bus went, now scheduled non-stop until Bangalore.

The movie was still running and we both were talking despite the loud music. I was talking to both Neha and Devendra. While it was easy to hear him, it took a little effort of leaning towards her to listen to what she said. It was beautiful.

 After that she slept and even I tried to, but a song kept ringing in my mind the whole night and that was ‘mujhe neend na aaye… mujhe chain na aaye…koi jaaye zara dhoond ke laaye…na jaane kahaan dil kho gaya..na jaane kahaan dil kho gaya’ However, my conscience told me it was just friendship and nothing else. I could not agree more. The not so good sleep had made me a bit tired. Of course, it is common in a 10-12 hr bus journey.

 0750 hrs, Majestic, Bangalore

The bus was running on time and reached Bangalore at 0800 hrs in the morning. An elderly couple had come to pick her up. Probably they were the one about whom she had talked before. I asked her for her mail id so that I can stay in touch. She gave me her cell number along with the id, which I must say was a bonus for me. She thanked again for everything. They picked her up and off she went. I even shared my contact details with the Design engineer. In that case, I will get to know more about the car designs. The journey was beautiful for me as I met two good people with whom I am committed for a long-term friendship.



ü      Nothing is impossible.

ü      Memories sometimes come at an expense. I shelled out 950 rupees for the bus ticket, spent almost a sleepless tiring night, watched a flop movie, got a headache because of the surrounding A/C, and accepted everything that came my way. Kuch paane ke liye kuch khona bhi padta hai.

ü      Make sure you ask a woman her mail id first (this is for boys). Many a times she will end up giving her number as a matter of appreciation for not bullying directly into her private zone.


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