Traveling at night time is always a risky idea. You would think: I’ll save some money, jump in one night half of the country and will be able to continue traveling tomorrow after a good nap. Sometimes it works. Usually it doesn’t. This one particular night in the bus from Chennai to Kanyakumari was a definite “doesn’t”.
9pm – that’s when the bus started and for the first few hours everything was going well. Driver as always was quite loud on the horn and heavy on the gas and brake pedals, causing all passengers dancing back-and-forth kind of zombie dance while sleeping… Then suddenly at 2am in the night we were brutally awaken, only to hear that the bus is broken and can’t go any further. I was ready to go back to sleep considering bit more comfortable conditions (silent and still) however I was told to get out as we were catching another bus.
Another bus has been full already – of course – so no chance for sleep unless someone is so talented that can sleep while standing. Yawing and hanging on one outstretched arm I was considering best way of falling to the floor in case of being knocked out by sleep. I’ve decided it’s better to fall over passengers, when unexpected lack has smiled at me and 2 places just in front of us have been freed up. We set down, made a comfy pillows out of our polar blouses and put them in between us on the shoulders – a perfect synergy and harmony between long time travelers – we put our heads on this dreamy bed and finally… “yadiyadiyadiyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!” radio creaked. 5am. Time to wake up. Time to wake up everyone in India and everyone on the bus from Chennai to Kanyakumari. Every time we went by bus in India, 5am was having same characteristics: extremely loud Indian music with a creaky high voices of ladies (not sure), sometimes accompanied by a Bollywood movie. Loud and creaky. What’s wrong with you people??? I wanted to shout each time. Except the first one. First time I was in too deep shock.
Three hours later we arrived thankfully to Tirunelweli only to find out thaaaaaaat… all drivers in whole state of Tamil Nadu are on strike and no buses will go anywhere further this day. You can imagine how it feels. It’s like you are tired and hungry, got completely wet on the way and when you arrive to your destination, you get an ice bucket on you head as a welcome gift. Question “why is this happening to me?” cannot bring any reasonable answer. Too tired to think more about it, we have caught some counter strike bus to get to the last possible stop – the bus station at the outskirts of the city where we were hoping to catch our final transportation to the most-southern-tip of India… Good thing, we could finally get some sleep on the dirty, hard floor. And then we’ve met them. At the end, it’s not a bad story.
Ambika and Priya – two sisters who were caught by the very strike on the same bus station as us and two of whom I would never think that are sisters, they were so little alike. Priya – quite tiny, shy girl – did not speak much English but love was in her eyes, so much goodness that it was almost dropping onto the floor. She would mostly listen and smile, and hug me whenever she could. Ambika, plump energetic lady, so cheerful that it was difficult not to laugh when being with her and very talkative – her whole body talked! And she talked for both of them Out of curiosity and boredom the four of us started regular chit-chat. What your name… where you from… what you do… how much time in India… and wow! It occurred that despite the language barrier it is actually fun to talk. Girls were truly excited about foreigners who quit their job to come to India and spend few months there. It made them very proud that we have chosen their country! And we were fascinated with their picturesque, highly gesticulated stories about theater they worked at.
Afternoon occurred to be surprisingly short and strike suddenly ended. Buses started off again, we could move on. What a luck, we were traveling in the same direction. Ambika and Priya squeezed me in between each other on the long bench in the bus. Amazing that we were actually sitting as there were some 80 people trying to get into that bus! Sisters though had a lot of experience in getting on a tight buses. Laughing all the way to Kanyakumari, not understanding half of what the whole bus was laughing at, we were quite confident all passengers know more about us than ourselves before we finally reached the destination. We said goodbye to each other as old friends, we promised to try catch theater that our sisters were about to play in the same night in some nearby village. And Kaszyccy always keep promises…