Bangalore, India

Boom Voyage

Write about the ordinary like it is extraordinary

A Turn of Events

Sahaya Riju (18CPE)

After a long day in college, it was time for me to return to my wretched PG to end my day. I was unusually excited that evening, to have that soggy rice complimented by the extra salty Dal, not because I was really hungry but I just wanted the day to just get over. As the sun calmly retreated to the southern hemisphere, the orange skies slowly turned into a purple haven indicating the end of the day to the birds fluttering across the horizon. The signal light across the junction turned green from red, letting out a flurry of vehicles as the honking intensified. As the day was coming to an end, the city came alive with banners and signs of neon, lighting up the black sky with tints of orange, red and blue.

The green BMTC bus could be seen coming down the road towards the bus-stop bullying the other vehicles with its mighty stature like a rhino running through a herd of deer. The bus came to an abrupt stop screeching for about 20 yards as it approached the stop. The bus was brimming with people with no space for any additional passengers as it already bore the weight of 50 people more than its recommended capacity. As the double door slowly opened up with a whoosh, a strong stench of sweat, socks and metal greeted the bystanders. In spite of my desperation to get to my room early, I did not have the energy to endure yet another agonising trip with the renowned BMTC.

Soon my eye caught the glistening yellow scooter right in front of me, with bounce written in white around a cherry red circle. As the dusk mellowed out into the dark night, cool breeze graced me as my sweat rejoiced. Fumes of white cigarette smoke and thick soot filled air intermingled and rose up in unison as an auto rickshaw passed in front of me. I browsed through my mobile, looking for my saviour, my  chariot which will take me home at my own pace, go places at my own will. I opened the Bounce App and tapped into the map to locate the yellow scooter which had graced my view for the past couple of minutes. Like an eagle swooping in to catch the pray, a guy in his blue shirt typed in the pin code and started the Bounce scooter. I cursed my luck once again and started searching for the next nearest scooter.

The map belittled me, and showed the next scooter stationed at a street which was half a kilometre away from me. Discouraged by the distance, I opened Rapido (a bike taxi app) to check for prices and availability. A single glance at the price was soon followed by a prolonged look into my wallet, and I started walking towards the next Bounce scooter. The street was bustling with students, gulping pani-puris and sipping tea with a look of relief as they took each puff of the white burning stick. After a good ten minutes of walk, I could see the saviour again, tempting me with its yellow glow. The street was dimly lit, isolated and haunting. The scooter was parked near a transformer, with not a single house in near sight. I turned on my flashlight and rushed to start the scooter. ‘8429’, I entered the code into the number pad as it turned green, indicating that the trip had started. 

The scooter started with a hint of hesitation, weak in its grunt and unresponsive to the twists of the accelerator. A moment of despair overwhelmed me as my sight slowly shifted to the fuel indicator, the arrow, lifeless and behind the red ‘E’. It was below empty. I was empty and speechless. I couldn’t gather enough energy to curse my luck once again. As I closed my eyes and laid my head on the speedometer, a distant howl soothed me in that terrible night. I was oblivious to the fact that I was on a secluded street, vulnerable and tired. The wind whistled past me as I gathered the courage to look for another scooter on the map.
I looked at the clock and it was well past eight and now I was at a risk of missing out on my well earned dinner in my PG. There it was! A yellow scooter on the map, just 200 meters away, ready to take my poor soul back home. As I start walking, I realise that the scooter was in fact inside the Christian cemetery on the Bannerghatta road. That was my last resort, my only other option was to walk back home which was almost 6 miles away.

The air around me got heavier as I entered the cemetery, a strong smell of jasmine mixed with smoke from several incense sticks blew across the graves. A sudden feel of disconnect overwhelmed me coupled with the complete silence inside boundaries. My heart raced, not out of fear but due to uncertainty. The scooter on the map showed the same distance even after I had traversed halfway into the cemetery. The path ahead was unclear and as I looked across, it was pitch dark. I turned around to look at the only light lit on the top of the entrance for some reassurance. As I turned back, a dog appeared out of nowhere and was sitting right in front of me.

It did not bark, it was sitting still and staring at me. In the silence of the night, I could hear the sound of my heart beating against my chest.

I turned around and ran, did not look back until I was out of the cemetery, did not look back after I was out. I cannot recall how I got back to my PG, maybe took a lift or boarded the bus. All I remember is eating Gobi Manchurian and chicken fry as opposed to soggy rice and salty dal. It was the day my PG owner’s son was born.

by Elizabeth Eldo (20BCOMD)

Although it may seem arduous to wake up along with the rising sun to catch the earliest bus to college, you’ll never feel more grateful that you did so once you hop onto the bus. At half past six in the morning, travelling in a BMTC bus is a ride of serenity. All you need is a hoodie and a seat near the window. I can assure you an hour filled with nothing, but bliss.

The classic weather in Bangalore would be an overcast morning along with a light drizzle. It’s the only time of the day where you can see the otherwise cranky conductors, fresh and lively and mostly with vermillion smeared on their temples. The old man who gets in from Gubbi Cross livens our spirits. He carries with him an aura of energy and warmth which makes even the conductor and the driver laugh and poke fun at each other. The morning creates an impression of laziness. A kind of weather where you can snuggle up and snooze without feeling guilty. So you’d mostly be surprised to see quite a lot of joggers and people walking out of Agon Sports with badminton rackets towards Udupi Vaibhav to relish on the rich dosa and sambhar and a glass of the refreshing filter coffee. The bus then takes you to the usual hubbub of Hennur Ring Road and Lingarajapuram with the slight traffic and school and college children talking and laughing with each other, clad in their various uniforms at the bus stops. After Lingarajapuram is where the bus takes you through lush greenery at Richard’s Town. It is a small town filled with levelled yet twisted roads, lined with tall, lush trees canopying us as we pass through. The little restaurants, boutiques and the beautiful park fills us with an ethereal cheer. 

The junction of Indian Express is where I get off where I then walk towards Cunningham Road. This is the only time of the day you get to see this road without the otherwise crammed traffic. You get to see the man and his golden brown Sheepdog dressed in a little red shirt strolling along the footpath. Tata cha, Cafe Coffee Day and other such cafes line the footpaths with people sitting outside with their laptops, drinking a coffee with a cigarette dangling between their fingers. I stop at my usual stop at a little shop called the ‘ New Indian Express ‘ where I get my coffee in a small paper cup and a packet of Bingo. By then, my friends join along as we sit on the steps of an old art store enjoying our hot coffees and tangy chips. 

The evenings are a different scenario altogether. The traffic of Bangalore would have reached its peak by then as we cross the streets between short spanned signals and impatient drivers. Our next stop would be in front of Sigma Mall at Cunningham road. Little stalls where khathi rolls, fried rice, ice creams and kulfis are served. The khathi roll stall is the busiest. We need to squeeze past the crowd in order to place our order. The waiting after placing the order is a sort of tolerance in itself. We wait, looking at the dough turning into a slight golden on the large iron stove as red sauce is spread over and salt and pepper is sprinkled. This is followed with a layer of onion rings and shredded chicken and other aromatic masalas. The roll melts in your mouth with the first bit you take with every flavour settling in the right amount.

The BMTC bus ride isn’t a serene ride anymore. Rather, it is a jam packed ride through bumpy roads with grumpy conductors and tired passengers. Regardless, it is a ride filled with laughter at the silliest jokes and chattering at the vaguest topics, just grateful to be with each other.

by Aiswarya Radhakrishnan (19CPE)

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come pick you up?”, she asked.

“Yes, I am.” 

Although my assurance did nothing to ease the lines of worry wrinkling her forehead, I decided to stick by my plan.

The sun bore down on all of us packed tightly in the bus stop. The school was right across the bus stop which explained the crowd. Some of the students were splashing the sand at each other, kicking it as they would in a stream of water. Even though they were having fun, I was on edge with the paper balls constantly hitting my head, gossips haunting my ears and sand in my mouth from when I opened it to excuse myself as I made my way away from the crowd.

The next bus stop was a short climb on the road uphill. As I heaved my way up with sun as a halo and my layers of cloth sticking to my body, I smelled the evenings dwelling on each verandah. Televisions blaring, cups clinking, sweets fried in equally delicious smelling coconut oil. All these blinded my senses and I came to a standstill on the next bus stop. This one was relatively empty with students hanging in the shops and gulping down soda. I was thoroughly distracted by the hiss of the soda popping open and soft lingering laughter erupting from among them that I failed to notice the bus coming uphill.

I ran with all my might as it lingered for a few seconds to let down some that were getting down and got away without a glance at me despite my soft hushes of effort asking the bus conductor to wait for me. I heard snickers of laughter and turned around to see Leo.

“ Apple soda?”

Although I wanted to be mad at him for laughing at me, a potential companion to share the apple soda convinced me otherwise. We made our way to the shop and he casually asked for one, tore it open like it was routine and offered it to me. I took a sip and offered it back. The soda went back and forth as we sat by the canal with no water in it. The green grass was a contrast to the concrete turning a disturbing dark shade with the mosses and dampness like a memory of water that once waltzed through its path. 

As Leo was paying the shopkeeper, I heard the low roar of the bus heaving uphill and was ready to board it no matter what. 

“ This will be far too crowded. We’ll go by the next one”, Leo said.

Despite him saying so, I was ready to spring up any moment. It turned out that he was right. He was usually taking the bus home this time and yet again I returned to sit by the canal with snickers of laughter not just from him but others who had joined him there.

True to his word we got on the next bus adequately crowded with the students and their backpacks that took up the place for another person. It was common for the students, the conductor and the other passengers to curse upon this on every occasion.This was also due to the fact that students had concessions in their ticket fare. It was common to see the students passive aggressively thrust their bags on the people who had the privilege to sit down.

The bus slowly swayed through the curves and downhill and stopping at each stop while the bus conductor rushed the people to get down and get in faster. He would barely swing himself up when the bus started moving and shut the door with a metal clang behind him. When he was not collecting tickets, he would peer out of the opening by the door. It was handwritten with black paint in malayalm on the steps to not put your hand and head outside as it was dangerous. Also to not stand on the steps by the door. But like an acrobat fiddling with rules of gravity, he made his way up and down, head drawn out and pulled inside in swift motions that kept me busy. He yelled out the name of the bus stops while banging on the metal door breaking everyone out of their reverie and letting them know that they have reached their destination.

It was a usual evening in the village of Manjapra as Leo and I got down at the junction at Chandrapura. There was the usual crowd of older citizens at the gramapanchayath Library having their tea with a dose of political debates that beats any Loksabha discussions. The auto stand had the slow crowd of passengers and drivers lazily hanging around. 

Leo and I made our way alongside yet another canal that had no running water in it but a tangled mess of grass and remains from the butcher shop on the way. This road lead us away from the crowd and the sun. Halfway through, Leo and I parted ways.

I turned around the corner and saw my mother peek out from behind the curtains. I made my way to the door and held onto the bell while she took her time to open the door. As soon as she did, the smell of coffee and banana fritters rush up my nose. In a daze, I walked to the kitchen as I was feeling unusually hungry. She chided me to take a bath before I touched the food.

Later that night, I wrote in my journal:

“ Today for the first time I came home on my own from school. Amma was worried but I know I’ll manage.”

by Anirudh (18EJP)

The crisp early morning air of Ejipura has an inspirational character to it. This was the air that people like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Rocky Balboa breathed when they worked hard to perfect their godlike physiques. It reeks of motivation. Taking a walk along the Ejipura main road is a must have experience. The cow dung and organic fruit leftover aromas infuse the aforementioned crisp inspirational air with a rustic smell that can give the Iowa Tourism Board a run for its money. School going children, with meticulous braids and hair neatly slicked back with coconut oil, chirpily bounce their way to school. The atmosphere emanates memories of a childhood from a time gone by! Further along the road from the school, the screws and spanners are already turning in the motorcycle workshop. The smell of grease wafts through the air, adding the essence of hard work to the inspirational air surrounding you. Yes, Ejipura has started becoming one with you!

At the end of the road is another hub of buzzing, thriving public life: the Ejipura Bus stop and the establishments around it! At the bus stop a beautiful medley of sounds welomes you. The grunt of the iconic BMTC Bus engines. The energetic, rapid chatter between the bus conductors. The symphonies produced by their whistles when the buses took reverse. The sound of hissing dosa tawas in the Thatte Idly shop. The gurgling of hot tea being expressed out of shiny silver flasks into petite glasses. The crunch of golden cookies being devoured by the early birds waiting for public transport-the blood in the veins of Bangalore. The smell of the dosas crisping up on the tawas is intoxicating. If you can resist your temptation to chow down 2 masala dosas with soulful hot sambhar and freshly ground coconut chutney accompanied by a glass of piping hot coffee, great, you have achieved Zen. Good luck with that, if the dosas don’t make you yield to temptation, the smell of a new batch of muffins from the bakery nearby will surely overpower you.

The morning buses have some magic about them that makes you fall in love. The mild, blue-grey seats don’t overpower the senses, and are friendly enough to invite you. Perch yourself on a seat and wrap your hands around the plastic handles nailed to the back of the seat in front of you. This is a position of surreal comfort; if your body could think, it would vehemently refuse to change this position. Your limbs simply want to slip into a deep, ceaseless slumber. But life ought to move on.

Go aboard the 140A bus. The friendly conductors religiously go about examining bus passes and deftly handing out tickets. The bus then proceeds to trudge along to destinations unknown (or Majestic Bus stop, the final stop). When you pass through the Post office in Viveknagar, your heart cannot help but feel a throwback to the days before the email.

You pass through the beautiful temples of Vannarpet. Right before the temple, on the pavements, serene old women have set shops that sell offerings for the deity inside- aromatic, crunchy Tulsi, delicate, snow-white jasmine flower garlands, bright yellow lemons to symbolically remind you of the saying that demand you to accept the situation that life gives you, among other things.

Minutes away from Vannarpet are the beautiful churches dotting Austin Town! In the bustling morning activity, the churches provide a sense of safety. It is the symbol of constancy in an ever transient environment.  A sense of order in the heart of chaos. The Infant Jesus Church is a must visit. If you have time left over, drop by for a biriyani at Deccan Spices. Their rotisserie chicken will surely catch your eye!

Continue on Mother Teresa Road to join the K S Thimmayya Road. The wide roads, organized, smoothly moving traffic is almost therapeutic when seen through the windows of a BMTC bus. It is here that you take another diversion- to Mission Road, characterized by the contemporary graffiti adorning the underbelly of mighty flyovers.

From here, St Joseph’s College is a mere 240 steps away. Right opposite the college is the legendary eatery- Sri Ganesh Fast Foods. The beloved establishment has been feeding hungry Josephites with a whole heart. In case your tummy is rumbling because of your stunt of not eating breakfast at the Ejipura Bus stop, Ganesh foods, as always, has got your back.

If you’re ready for some academic activity, feel free to walk into St Joseph’s College. With your ID card, of course. Identity cards are an integral part of Joseph’s, it is always advisable to carry one. In case you don’t have one, contact the management immediately, they will oblige! I rate the ID card experience 10/10.

Inside campus, walk up the ramp to Arrupe “A” Block- which I very appropriately call Writer’s block. Take one of 2 stairs to the third floor. An elevator, if your ligaments are torn. And take a left to the English Department.

Your destination has arrived. There is no place else that you’d rather be!