Standing in the middle of an expressway at 6am in the morning watching vehicles fly by you is not a very pleasant feeling. The mercury had dipped to almost five degrees centigrade and we were barely trying to make conversation through chattering teeth and wisps of ‘smoke’ escaping our lips. The aim was to get on to a bus heading toward Mumbai.
To get to this point, let me rewind by a few hours. I was busy in conversation with friends and having a midnight cup of tea at a local ‘chaiwalla’ in Pune when my alarm went off and I realised that it was 4am. I rushed home and got my friend to drop me to Pune station. After all I had to get back to Mumbai before 10.30 in order to make it to class in time. I reached just in time to make the bus. My classmates, Nupur and Martin were waiting there for me. The bus set off just as soon as I found my seat and made myself comfortable. Considering it was an odd hour of the morning, the only bus we could get was a 2x2 asiad.
The bus was cruising away on the expressway and I was sound asleep when I suddenly heard a loud bang. Following this, the bus tottered to a halt in the middle of the Pune-Mumbai expressway. The worst part – we had just entered Lonavla, the coldest part of the journey. What was more worrying than the cold was that we would not make it back to college for the lecture.
With each passing vehicle, our tension levels kept rising much like the goose bumps on our arms. It was amusing to see the bus conductor and driver waving their arms and shouting at the top of their voices at each state transport bus that passed. Unfortunately though, none of them stopped to help us. The waiting game went on till almost 7.30am when finally another Asiad passing by noticed us and stopped to help (probably because the sun had risen and he could see us).
On entering the bus we realised that there were no free seats which meant that we had to stand all the way back to Bombay (approx 130 km). Having no choice, we hopped on. We hit Navi Mumbai by 9am or so when an idea struck me. Instead of crawling through the city in the bus, I suggested that we alight at Vashi n take a train all the way to CST. The train of course was crowded. We squeezed our way into the compartment and somehow fought our way to some seats. Thankfully the train did not get delayed and we were able to make it in time for class albeit being about 5 minutes late. But, credited had to be given to us for making it back to class in spite of the crazy rollercoaster ride we had just come out of.