Chennai Chronicles: The Long Weekend

11th August 2016, 10am: 1500+ tickets available from Chennai to Bengaluru on KSRTC site for 12th August night. My procrastinating mind chooses to wait until the evening to book the tickets for the long weekend (yup…bad decision).

11th August 2016, 4pm: 20 tickets available on KSRTC site, none of them matching the timing that suit me. It was only then that I realised that approximately one and a half thousand people beat me to booking a ticket in quite a short span of time. I dejectedly booked the tickets for the SRS Travels bus leaving on early on the morning of August 13th, wondering about the major part of the day that would be wasted travelling. To cheer myself up, I chose to watch the latest Hrithik Roshan starrer Mohenjo Daro with a flatmate the night before the departure (another bad decision…the movie turned out to be a colossal disappointment).

 

13th August 2016:

Jumping out of the bed like a ninja on realizing that I overslept, I hurried to reach the Koyambedu bus stop in time. I turned out to be pretty lucky though, as I somehow managed to reach an entire hour before the departure. For a really badly planned trip, the day went pretty well – the lady sitting next to me was pretty good company and I honestly didn’t realize how the time passed. A few hours later I was greeted by the pleasantly cloudy and drizzly Bengaluru weather and my cousin who picked me up from Madiwala on his bike. After relishing the Dahi wada and puran poli, we treated ourselves to shopping at Commercial Street, followed by Chaat at Anand’s.

 

14th August 2016:

The second day was even more memorable than the first, as I got to enjoy an ice-cream at Creamstone Ice-creams after hogging on warm spicy momos with my brother. Seeing the ice-cream being prepared and served was an experience in itself – the ice-cream and the “toppings” were smashed together on an icy table and served in a bowl made of crunchy waffle. The Fresh-Fruit-and-Nuts ice-cream is definitely worth a shot, and tasted much better than I expected it to.

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The remainder of the day was spent listening to old Hindi songs, chatting, and reading the eighth instalment of the Harry Potter series – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Although reading a play after so many years was a refreshing experience, I was slightly disappointed with the story.

 

15th August 2016:

My last day in Bengaluru was the best of all. It began with a bang – an impromptu plan to visit Nandhi Hills (Nandhibetta as they call it) at 4 in the morning! A 70km drive to watch the hills was one of the things I least imagined. Draped in warm clothing, my uncle, aunt, brother and I set out to see the sun rise over the misty hills. Expecting a deserted road, we were taken aback by the sheer number of people on bikes who set out to the hills at the same time as us. The business of the tea vendors was in full swing – the bikers would stop at a tea stall whenever it became too cold to ride.

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We were greeted by freezing fresh air and the hills in a shroud of mist as we took the turn from the main road, not to mention acres of lush greenery. Nature was definitely at its best at 5.30am.

6Assuming that we would get to enjoy the sunrise from the top, we made our way to the entrance gate, tailing about thirty other cars. Too bad, we learnt that the place would be open to visitors only at 6am. After a decent amount of waiting our car moved past the gate, only to be reduced to a snail’s pace a couple of kilometres later. We ultimately ended up locking the car up and walking.

It was interesting to see many people choose something similar. We walked back to the car after half an hour of drenching ourselves in nature’s beauty and bounty and enjoying the misty coolness of the morning breeze. We made our way back to the city after a hurried breakfast at a restaurant at the base of the hill. We were welcomed by another huge set of people waiting for the gate to be opened again at the base – apparently the number of vehicles that visited the place as it opened was so huge that they had to close the gate until a considerable number of people came back down! By the time we reached back home, it was approximately 9.30am.

Spending a good chunk of the day catching up on some well-needed sleep, we watched movies such as Rangitaranga and Thithi. The evening was pretty much fun – I had been looking forward to the one thing I absolutely love Bengaluru for – Death By Chocolate (DBC) at Cornerhouse Ice-cream. Although it is the most tempting, fattening and indulgent thing possible, I love every bite of it – and my brother spares no occasion to spoil me. After another delicious plate of warm and mildly spicy momos we went back home to pack up. I really didn’t feel like leaving Bengaluru – it is practically my home, and I am surely in love with it.

The journey back to Chennai was a funny memory in itself. I had booked a semi-sleeper seat in the Airavat bus leaving at 11pm. My brother and aunt came to see me off. Fortunately we managed to reach Shanthinagar bus stop (the starting point of the journey) sufficiently before the departure time. There was one guy though, who didn’t know where exactly the bus was going to be, and thus called up the caretaker of the bus asking him for directions to the bus, and also to wait a little. Shanthinagar bus stop is a big place, and can get a little confusing at times (we ourselves took about 10 minutes to find the place!). Interestingly the frequency of his calls increased as the departure time neared. 4 calls in 7 minutes was enough to have the caretaker super-annoyed and everyone else in splits! The funniest part of the incident was when the passenger finally made it to the stop. Every person standing on the sidewalk but him knew his bus, and pointed it out together. Even the caretaker laughed out loud this time.

Getting a seat behind the driver was the highlight of my night-travel adventure. Although he had pulled the divider down so as to help us avoid the light glares, stray beams of light occasionally hit my eyes. I would often catch glimpses of the road ahead from the side. To my tired eyes everything appeared to be moving at an inhuman speed – almost as if the driver was playing a game of NFS. I don’t know when exactly I fell asleep, although I do know that falling asleep was a task in itself. The journey ended a few hours later as the bus pulled up to the stop at the Koyambedu Bus Terminal at Chennai, and I prepared myself for another adventure soon.

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