Each one of us, at some point in life, faces bad days. Some of these bad days leave an everlasting impression in our mind as memories or just as an ordeal. And it is this memory of me which made me pen down (type down I should say 😛 ) this incident.
It was March 7, 2017. I was in Delhi and had taken a week off from office for my sister’s marriage and now I had to go to Bangalore to resume my internship. My flight was in the morning at around 6 am and I woke up at 4. And call it my naivety in travelling on a plane that the thought of missing the flight never came to my mind. I reached the airport at around 5:25 am and stood in the boarding queue. I asked a guy ahead of me whether the boarding had been taking place of Bangalore. ‘Leh’, he replied. I immediately rushed down to the head of the queue and asked the counter guy about the boarding pass (I hadn’t done the web check-in also, see naivety again). “Sorry sir, Check-in closes 45 minutes before departure so we can’t give you the boarding pass”, the guy at the counter said. I immediately called my dad who was waiting outside the entrance gate. (I must say, dads, in general, always have the habit of not leaving the airport until their loved ones pass the security gate). The counter guy sent us to the flight in-charge whose office was a few metres from there at the backside of the airport. After some debate with the flight in-charge, he rescheduled my flight in the evening for 3000₹. (I had never got wise to the ‘rescheduling charges’ thing, he just booked me a new ticket almost at the same price as what I had purchased in the name of rescheduling charge).
We sat in the car to go back to our home. “We should be careful from next time”, my dad uttered. When we reached home I took a nap. My dad called an uncle who has had been working in the Airport Authority. He recited all the incident before him. My uncle said, “You should have called me at that time, I would have figured it out in a better way.” Since it was quite an early morning so dad didn’t call or maybe it did not come to his mind.
In the evening I reached the airport way ahead of the scheduled time (my flight was at around 6:30pm and all my security check was completed before 5:30pm) , boarded the plane and finally landed at Bangalore. I took a BMTC Airport Bus to reach the nearest bus stop from my pg. After around one and half hour of sleeping and waking, I deboarded the bus at HAL Main Gate Bus Stand at around 11:30 pm (I was the only one who got out of the bus at this stop). The bus stop was very quiet and gloomy. I was the only person with luggage who was standing there and there were 2 auto drivers who had parked their auto in front of the bus stop. Since my pg was around 5 km from there, I decided to take an auto. I went to one of the drivers and told him the place. The price he had put up was more than double, I tried settling him to a lower amount but he was continuously waggling his head, so I moved to the other auto rickshaw. The second auto driver had put up such a high price that I did not even negotiate with him. Suddenly I saw a guy standing behind me. He seemed to be drunk from his appearance. I ignored and moved to the third auto rickshaw which came moving slowly and stopped in front of me. And before I could start my negotiation he immediately nodded and agreed on my price. We had hardly moved away a few metres when the auto driver said, “Do you know the drunk guy behind you was a thief and that was why I was telling you to sit quickly.” His sentence gave me chills and before I could have reacted to him I suddenly remembered that I came with three bags but only had two at that moment. It was the jute bag which was missing which had our’s (mine and my friends’ books), who had come to the internship with me. I yelled to the driver, “I think I left my bag at the bus stop , can you quickly take me there.” The auto driver quickly took a U-turn to the bus stop. When we reached the bus stop I could not see my bag. I had probably left it in the bus, I thought. Or the guy who was standing behind me had taken it. Meanwhile I had apprised the lost baggage information to my friend, who was still awake as I had talked to her in the bus. There was a small cabin of the transport department on the other side of the road in front of the bus stop. A guy, who was wearing a uniform, was drowsing on his chair. He told me that the bus was headed to Kadugodi, the last stop at this route, which was probably 14 km from there. I had 2 options with me, either go to the Airport, lodge a missing baggage complaint there, and they would send the baggage to me in a few days, if they ever find it or go to Kadugodi and search for the bus.”We should go to Kadugodi without delay and catch the bus there”, the auto driver uttered. I did not find any sense in going to the airport again which was 40 km from there, the round-trip journey in addition would waste an entire day, so I decided to go to Kadugodi.
Many people had always been telling me that you must keep an umbrella when you go out in Bangalore as it can rain anytime. I had been staying in Bangalore for more than a month and never had I ever experienced a rainfall during that period. But since that day was different from other days it had to rain. And it rained so heavily when we reached Kadugodi that I had to wait for some time inside the auto. I did not want to wait for a long time so I came out of the auto and started looking for my bag in the light drizzle. Initially, I was reluctant to leave my laptop and luggage inside the auto because I did want to lose what I already had for something which was already missing. But then I stepped out and began my bag expedition at Kadugodi. Since Kadugodi was a bus terminus, a lot of blue Volvo AC buses (which are mostly used for commuting at Airports) and normal route non-AC buses were parked there. In every direction I went, I made sure that the auto was nearby to me.
All the buses had their doors closed with lights turned off. I turned my mobile torch on and scanned the buses from outside the window. After examining almost all the blue Volvo, I went to the other side of the bus terminal. When I reached the other side of the terminal, my friend called and shared a bus number with me. I asked her how she got it, she told me that she called the customer care talked with many people and then after a lot of struggle she got the number. Initially they were reluctant to share but after she explained the situation they agreed to give it. While scanning buses on the other side of the the terminal, we found out a bus which had almost the same number as my friend had told except for the last 2-3 digits. (I don’t clearly remember the bus number now). I thought this might be the bus number because either I had not clearly seen the message or my friend had heard it wrong from the customer care. I asked the bus driver if he got any bag from a seat. He denied and then my search began again. After inspecting some more buses, I found the bus, this time with the exact number. I ran immediately at the gate, banged the door for a few times and woke up the driver. The driver took out a bag from a drawer in front of his seat and asked me, “Is this yours?”, “Yes, exactly this one” (If I could make an emoji in this situation it would be 😌 ). I straight away called my friend and told her that I got the bag.
On the way back to my pg, the auto driver told me about his family disputes. I remember he told me that his sisters were residing abroad and how his elderly uncle had deceivingly claimed the rights over their property. I was partly involved in a discussion with him and partly looking at my phone to see the time.
At around 4 am I reached my pg. I got down, looked at the meter, which was showing 450₹. I grabbed a 500₹ note out from the wallet and gave it to the driver. The driver immediately dissented and looked upon me with his hope-filled eyes. In an attempt of his ‘fighting chance’ he made me aware of an unheard rule in Bangalore that after 10pm the charges is 1.5 times the amount of what the meter shows and after 12pm it becomes twice. (“Thank god, we didn’t go to the airport, otherwise you would have asked me for a blank cheque”, I thought). I pulled out another 500₹ note, gave it to him and told him to ‘keep the change.’ The auto driver asked me if he could take my luggage upstairs to my room. I courtly said no and assured him of taking it myself. I stepped inside the building with my heavy luggage, a laptop bag and an earned book bag. My eyes gazed at the lift because I had to go to the 5th floor. Ah! They had powered it off. But it came as no shock to me because I had already seen that in the past, they used to power it off after 12. After a little struggle, I finally reached the 5th floor. I tapped on the door 3-4 times but could not hear any footsteps approaching the door. (So there was door outside, then there was a small entrance hall leading to 2 rooms and my room was the left one). I didn’t want to wake other guys so I knocked slowly but again no one replied. A friend of mine, whose room was in front of that door woke up. He came to the door and banged the door quite a few times. After some smashes we both heard someone coming closer to the door. When the gate finally opened I could see a guy with sleep-filled-eyes. He was my roommate. He asked me where I was as I had to reach by 12 and now it was 4 am in the morning. I told him that I would recite the full incident on next day. I then divulged about my ‘safe’ arrival to my friend, who was still awake and had been virtually present with me in my bag hunt.
On my bed I retrospected my entire day – the flight miss, the bag hunt, the rain and all the events that took place. “It’s okay Badal, it was only a bad day and it could have been worse”, I pondered. I then remembered the good times spent at my home during the marriage – the family gathering, the dance, chit-chat with cousins, and in no time, I went to sleep.