Dated: 24- Dec-2014
After having some lip-smacking Paranthas at the parathe-wali galli (near chandini chowk), i bid good bye to my good friend Divyam with a heavy heart knowing that i’ll not be seeing him for some time to come and boarded the metro which would take me back to the express line at new delhi station which would further take me to the Domestic airport.
The ride to the airport was un-eventful but i was worrying about my further plans. I was supposed to land at Ahmadabad at 7:30 pm but the great spice-jet flight was delayed and we were leaving delhi only at 8:40 pm!! I was fussing about how to get a bus to bhuj so late in the night (with a cycle in tow) and i did not want to miss a day by staying back in Ahmadabad that night. My other concern was if the cycle would arrive safely at Ahmadabad at all.
As i boarded my plane, i was frantically checking redbus to see if there were any buses beyond 10:30 pm from Ahmadabad to Bhuj. But the most reliable BSNL 3G internet conked off and i was left fuming.
I turned to the co-passenger (Mr Shanmugam) beside me and in the spur of the moment asked him if he was from Ahmadabad. He said he was not and my face fell and I politely thanked him and was about to get back to my world of music player and kindle when he asked me if i needed any help. I explained to him my plight and asked him if he knew any bus operators who’d book a bus ticket on my behalf. He immediately whipped out his phone and started calling some one. He asked for my name, age and my destination and within a few mins, he had my ticket booked (just as the flight attendants announced over the intercom to switch off all mobile phones)!!! His friend who worked as a travel agent in the same company as him had come online at 8:30 PM and booked a ticket on his behalf for a total stranger!!! Mr Shanmugam told me I could pay him the ticket money in cash and he’d settle with his friend when he got back. I gladly handed him the money and thanked him again for helping out.
So we got chatting about where i was headed and where i was from. It came as a great surprise to know he was from karnataka itself. Delighted, we switched languages and he asked me about my other travel experiences. I regaled him with my stories for some time and then asked about him. Turns out he used to work for a government company before and now he had switched to a private company. His field was mining and he told me he had traveled extensively through out karnataka and to far off places. He had of course been to a lot of standard trekking routes in karnataka. Best part was, he was headed to the same bus stop in Ahmadabad as i was and he said we could share a ride.
Time flew as we kept swapping stories and in next to no time, the plane landed in Ahmadabad. As we got off the plane, he came with me to get his baggage. Then, he waited for me to get my cycle and my backpack. We exited the airport together and then hailed down a taxi.
Getting the cycle (which was inside a big box) onto the taxi turned out to be a spectacle in itself. It was a struggle to get the box on top. After that, we had to tie it down to the railings tightly to make sure it did not fall off. Mr Shanmugan patiently helped me get the cycle on the taxi though i kept insisting to him that he needn’t get his hands dirty.
After all the hoopla of getting the cycle on the taxi, we had just 40 mins to get to the bus stop from the airport and we asked the driver to floor it. As we rode in the taxi, it was Mr Shanmugam who kept checking more times than me if the cycle was still in place. It was heartening to see just how much he cared.
As we got down at our bus stop, he paid for the ride and when i insisted on paying my half he said it’s ok as i was still a kid and he would not take money from me . Then, he went out of the way to help me get the cycle down from the taxi. While waiting for our respective buses, he asked me to look out for his luggage and came back with some delicious sandwiches and orange juice. We ate together and as we finished eating, my bus to bhuj arrived and i again thanked him profusely for helping out. He said it was his pleasure and thanked me for the lively time he had while on the flight.
He handed out his card to me and asked me to call him in case of any problems what so ever while i was still in gujrat. I bid him goodbye and boarded my bus to Bhuj.
It was the second time in the day i was bidding goodbye to a good friend i had made on the road…. 😦