Friday, November 28, 2008

I don't hate Greyhound

I swore I would take back everything I said about Greyhound if this happened. And it did. So I keep up my word.

I was scheduled to leave at 11:30 at night to another city in order to take a flight for the Thanksgiving holiday. The flight was early in the morning, but this was the latest I could leave in order to minimize my wait time at the airport. And then a friend told me: The train you have to take from the bus terminal to the airport runs only at these times... and the terminal isn't open at the hour you reach.

I decided to pay the additional $15 for changing my bus schedule to an earlier time: 8.20pm. The change was done; the bus was delayed.

I waited. Scenarios and solutions ran wild in my head. Greyhound. It had led me down. Again. I shouldn't have been surprised, I guess it had been a while since I relied on public transport to get around. If only airport parking fees weren't higher than my train and bus tickets combined...

The bus was to leave at 9.30pm. Scheduled time of arrival 11.35pm. The last train to the airport was at 11.25pm. This is not happening. No, this is just not happening.

Option 1: Wait at the bus terminal. Take the first train in the morning to the airport.

Option 2: Wait at the train terminal. Take the first train in the morning to the airport.

Option 3: If both bus and train terminals are closed, take a local bus to the airport.

Option 4: Call 911. Cry like a baby.

And then it happened. I heard something... Was I hallucinating? Did I inhale some bus fumes? Is it really...? YES! The bus driver honked. He overtook half a dozen cars. I shook out of my state of panic and looked out the window to estimate that he must have been travelling at about 70mph when I've always seen buses on highways keep to 5 below the limit.

It was as though he knew...

My destination was the second of a two-stop journey. The first stop was to be reached at 11pm; he made it there at 10.55. I cursed the people who took more than 10 seconds to get their bags out. I cursed even more the girl who stopped the driver to ask him something. I stopped myself from cursing the driver for closing the baggage compartment too slowly. I needed him to be curse-free for the next 30 minutes.

Should I make a desperate plea to him? Perhaps he might consider my situation and make an informed attempt to reach the final stop before it is too late. I was almost about to get off my seat when he slammed the door, hit the lights, and stepped on it.

And then I swore... if this happens, I will take back everything I ever said about Greyhound. This one man's action is reason enough for me.

11.15pm. I can see the skyline. We are close. But the midnight traffic is surprisingly high.

11.17pm. Screeeeeeeech. The bus steers to the left lane and brakes to a halt. I had just then heard metal crumble and glass shatter to my right. The SUV that was ahead of us had collided head on into a pick-up truck at high speed. The bus driver had avoided getting into the mess in a split second.

11.22pm. The bus terminal. We had reached. But the passengers in the seats ahead of me were slow in alighting. Curses.

I got off the bus. I ran into the terminal and out through the front door. The chill hit me. I ran down the flight of stairs at the entrance. "Damn... you so fine..." I felt his breath on my cheek. I didn't stop to look at his face. The train station was across the street. I prayed that the doors not be locked. I smiled in gratitude as I pulled them open. I ran down the escalator in search of tracks, listening hard for chugging wheels, looking here and there for train schedules.

11.25pm. The train was a minute late. As I ran down to the track, I heard it coming. I saw it coming. I saw it not slowing down. I was on the wrong track.

I ran upstairs to the information booth, and was told to head in the opposite direction.

I ran down the correct stairs. The train had stopped a while, and was starting to move. No, no, no.

The conductor saw me. "Airport?"
"Hop on."
"Thank you!"
YES !!!!!!!!

I reached the airport and called the host of my holiday visit to update. "Hey! What are you doing at this late hour? Aren't you supposed to be asleep?"


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Inner workings of a certified loser

Many a general matter-of-conversation questions from those aged 25 to 50 with different social backgrounds have led me into 2-minute soul searching trances on multiple occasions.

"So, what do you do for fun?"
What DO I do? Listen to music. Everybody does that. Come up with something else. I listen to classics on vinyl. Heck, 20 records of a random assortment from The Kinks to Tchaikovsky do not count for being an audiophile. Well, I do have 30 gigs of mp3. That is low even by my standards… I'm not going to talk about it. Perhaps I should say I play the guitar. Reality check: can't hold down an F chord. What else do I do? Photography. Ownership of a canon S5 and a handful of foliage shots do not qualify for photography. Read. No… don't ever say that. One, you aren't a bookworm, you picked up your first book hardly 3 years ago. Two, you read world history, science and religion. Don't want people to think you are linked to a terror network now, do you? Comics. Graphic novels. No, haven't read enough. I could say I like to hike. But thought has not manifested into action. My last hike was ages ago. Hmmm… oh yes, I like to drive. But driving an automatic means nothing. The better phrase would be I like to go on long drives. But those drives have had destinations: places, people. Rephrase: I like to meet up with friends. Everybody does that. Back to square one.

"I… well, not much, the usual…"

"You stay downtown… you must like the nightlife!"
"Actually, no…"
I don't drink, I don't gyrate, I can't headbang to hip hop. So that rules out the stereotypical nightlife you expect me to enjoy. I live where I live simply because I cannot live in a neighbourhood which believes that street lighting leads to environmental imbalance, and that sleeping amidst trees gets one spiritually closer to nature. Neither do I believe that watching little children learn to ride their bicycle is a sign of hope for the joy and progress of mankind.

"Oh you should try the restaurant row, it's quite good!"
"Yes, but I'm a vegetarian."
And I found half a dozen places to eat incredible food outside the city.
"No wonder you are so thin."
The two are very unrelated, and no I'm not a diet.
"But what kind of nutrition can you get?!"
"I can get everything I need."

And I don't have to kill an animal for it.

"So are you vegan?"
I'm a Hindu, not a hippie.
"Why don't you try some of…"
"Sorry, I must decline today. It's my fortnightly fast."
"You fast ?!"
"Yes. Scientific and religious."
My way of trying to tell my hunger who's the boss.

Blanked out… oh no not now! Come up with something, anything… what's the name of that movie I saw last night?!

"Watch any TV?"
"No, don't have one."
I needn't have said that. I still watch everything I want to, online.
"No TV?! You've got to be kidding me!"
"Done with TV. Wasted enough time in school and college."
Not to mention the fact that nowadays reality shows dominate every network, have made the dumb even dumber, made everyone self-righteous and judgmental, when the central characters were chosen on their immoral inappropriateness and a regression of the number of Google hits against the money to be paid for being on the show. News channels will die out unless Americans are at war with something. They fail to identify, among other things, that fuel prices have gone down. And of course, USA loves all and nobody returns the favour. I watch… Anime? Negative. Five full series only. Not enough.

"Damn, you don't have any fun at all, do you?"
"Guess so."
Guess again. Your point of reference to measure the value of my lighter side has just been proven to be from a different domain.


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