12 October 2008
There were multiple yelps of loud Yay's as our group got a positive response from the department head for an official two-day off together. (The Chief thought we'd do well to bond...not that this company of assorted mad hatters needed any more of it!) Plans began to be drawn and after a lot of bow-wowing and not-there's, the group decided to go to a sweet old hill station. There was just enough time to book tickets and pack bags for a two day trip. Well, at the appointed time, the taxi...nope, did not arrive. It was one of those monster-shower days where the entire city comes to a standstill with a few cms of rainfall clogging the city's roads. Well, did this dampen the spirit of the chaingang...oops, jing-bang? Au contraire. The maddest of all hatters decided to get rickshaws for a motley group of 20 people. Ya, right! 10 very shaky mins passed before the man came back with a decided...nope-no-luck look but an extremely determined stride. He went straight to the phone and dialled a number rather resolutely. It was now or never. We barely had an hour before the train'd leave --with or without us! 19 people crowded around this being and followed every nod of the very round head and every flicker of his chinky eyes as if our life depended on it. If ever there was "pin drop" silence, this was the time. He hung up and breathed deeply. 2 cabs had been arranged but they could take time. O, how could cabs not be available? We were so ready to pay a ransom for it! Well, a taxi did arrive and this wave of 20 pairs of hands and feet rushed out. Yes! It was, indeed a yellow and black cab! Who cared if it was more than a decade old jalopy? What about the other one? Broom...hyak...hyak...the second cab sort of, well, drove in. So now we had 2 cabs and 20 people. Not bad! 9 people were bundled off(thank god for ambassadors!) into the first one...you get the picture, 3 in front, 6 behind. Had it been possible for this scrap of metal to burst at its seams, it would have. But, as it was, it merely shook on its underbelly, occasionally, side-to-side. Suddenly, there was a whrrr...whrr of a rick. Someone had just gotten down of a rick! Divine intervention, what! 4 people quickly hopped into the three-legged vehicle and threw their bags into the second amby's backside. The remaining adjusted quite well and started merrily towards the railway station that was about 25 kms away. As the taxi chugged along, we sat with bated breath. Why bated, you ask? Well, there was little choice! When someone weighing 50 odd kgs is perched on you, you can't do pretty much else, can you? Oh what a ride twas! You couldn't see the road in front of you. The traffic you see, blocked your view. Every second counted. Just when the indivuduals had managed to begun to cope, 3 phones rang simultaneously. No, there couldn't be a scurry of hands trying to reach to the phones. The phones were buried deep inside pockets and no amount of groping could bring them out from their safe haven. (Damn the ringtones...especially those that have ascending laughter. It sure sounded maniacal). Imagine this repeated cacophony of ringtones: batman joker laughing insanely + gamcha bichayi le + arre o samba. You get the picture.
If this wasn't enough, the 3 sisters of Fate(sorry, can't recall their Attic names right now) decided to unleash some more of their dark humour. The rick containing 4 very wet people did a hurrrum-bhaaack and then died. Ah! but we didn't know this then, did we? We couldn't reach our cellphones, remember? Well, the Fates sure were having fun! At the Chandinichowk redlight crossing, 2 two-wheeler scooters drew up and a pair of very fast-moving arms waved at us. At first, we looked away in disgust assuming they were eve-teasers. But, when the arm-waving became more rapid, we looked more closely. The faces seemed vaguely familiar! Indeed they were! Two out of 4 wet figures had managed to get a lift. There were kind people left in this cold city, afterall! Err...the other two? Well, a little behind us was a tempo van carrying someone's furniture. Yeah, you guessed it. There was much hee-hawing about this and other senseless stuff in our cab. Not for long, though. The cabbie, who'd had to tactfully maneuver changing gears from between two very thick pairs of legs, had had it! A most disgusted sound emanated from his dark lips. Wouldn't be prudent to reproduce what he said, but the gist(you may even call it quintessence) of it was to shut up, quit squiggling and let him drive on if we wished to reach the station. We felt like Moses(soon after he must have been hit by the Commandments, that is!). 10 more mins and we managed to arrive at the un-pearly gates of the station! AH!
The cab spat us out in utter revolt. The passengers of the tempo and the scooters also arrived soon after. We met each other with renewed joy and camararderie. But,oh! had we made it on time? Someone (of erstwhile 'marching captain' fame) hollered run. The gang made a run for it(except, you can't pretty much run when there is a crowd of several thousand people, with stray dogs interspersed, around you) and managed to reach platform number 6. The blue train was more than ready to leave and had begun its pronounced chug-chug. The pack bundled into whichever bogie they were closest to. After managing to reach the correct, alloted seats, 20 black, wet, tired, but happy faces acknowledged each other. Right.
Our journey had begun!