Dec 11, 2011

Troubled Beginnings

Murphy was proving his law one more time while we were waiting for an MTC bus that would take us to the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT), from where we could take a Cuddalore-bound bus

The MTC buses from CMBT were running towards Velachery, while the ones that depart from Velachery were heading towards T.Nagar. After what looked like eternity, an M70 arrived at our bus stop which Deepak and I, along with a small crowd boarded.

The driver stopped the bus a few meters away from the bus stop to allow the conductor to finish distributing the tickets to all on board, or so I thought! It became clear to me soon when the driver tried frantically to start the ignition that the bus was never going to start!

The conductor went to a nearby tea shop, talked about the problem with the shop owner, brought a pot of water and filled the radiator. Some of the passengers were inquiring from the driver to see if pushing the bus would work. But, the driver's facial expression gave me a feeling that he already knew the bus wasn't going to start again.

The passengers got down from the bus and started to push it from behind. But with the collective muscle power, the driver could only manage to steer the vehicle to the edge of the road, thereby not causing a traffic jam.

We waited for ten additional minutes before the conductor flagged a D70, authorized our tickets with his signatures, for us to travel in that bus. We boarded to find that it was already packed to saturation level. After a tiring journey which took about 45 minutes, we reached the CMBT.

We had a cup of coffee each, and were walking towards a bay for the Cuddalore-bound busses when we heard a loud boom followed by shattering of glass from a nearby platform.

"This is my bay. How dare you park your bus here?", the driver of the bus who accidentally crashed his vehicle with the other one, started to yell at a conductor, who was rushing towards the scene to inspect the crash.

When  we reached the platform, an air conditioned bus was about to depart from there. We located the conductor and asked him if we could buy two tickets to Cuddalore. "This one goes only up to Pondicherry. But you will get a connecting bus from Pondicherry to Cuddalore every five minutes", he assured us.

We did not mind boarding the bus and taking the last two seats, since it was an air conditioned volvo model. But soon, we regretted our decision when we found that the ac outlet was spewing hot air instead.

Moments later, we raised this issue to the conductor. He inspected all the other outlets and said "other outlets are working fine. This one alone seems to have some problem. I will ask the mechanic to service it (after the trip)"!

Just like seeing the sun finally come out after gloomy days, a slow and bumpy ride from the terminus to the outskirts of the city with all the troubled starts changed to a pleasant drive the moment our bus hit the East Coast Road (ECR).

At a stretch in ECR where the road narrowed for some distance, an auto was parked in the middle of the road. The driver of the auto was bargaining with his client for some extra money to strike a deal. Though there was enough space between the auto and the median, our driver decided to choose this particular stretch to overtake a tanker lorry.

A sudden brake was followed by an exchange of few angry words between the two drivers. Our driver parked the bus across the road blocking all traffic, turned off the ignition, got down and engaged in physical fight with the auto driver. It took a conductor and a few bike riders to stop the fight and bring them to their senses and steering wheels!

I asked Deepak "What do you think about all this?", referring to the development of situations since morning.

"We have a lot of stories to tell our readers", he said.