The Airport – Class divide on transport modes
Day 6 – Back Home
In the wee hours of late midnight, I was awoken by a sudden outburst of a Marathi song, from the speakers in the bus. I stared at my acrobatic feet, splayed in physically impossible directions, ahead of me. I had barely managed to nod off and this unwanted wake-up call got me angry.
I thought to myself, ‘ I haven’t slept for 10 minutes and now this?’. War and Peace had just put me to sleep at 1230 am, despite my body situated in a position in which it was impossible to sleep.
I re-adjusted my feet and was about to get out to give a mouthful to the driver when I chanced upon my silver watch lying on the floor. I picked it up. Glanced at the time. It showed 330 am. I had slept for more than 3 hours with my body contorted. Amazing what traveling does to you.
Earlier that day, I woke up in a town I’ve always wanted to visit. I had booked tickets to travel at least twice earlier but had to drop plans each time. Bidar. Not many people I know have wished to travel to Bidar. Neither would I have except for the fact that it’s the northernmost town in Karnataka. Like a crown on a concave king.
I woke up bright and early, just like I had on all previous days of my trip. I was staying in a hotel that had a fading facade but was filled with warmth hospitality. Rooms were well-maintained, affordable and airy. Plus, the location was worth its weight in gold – right opposite the bus stand, saving conversational time while negotiating directions with the auto drivers. I ventured out with the air of a man who was here to rake in all the delights of Bidar, that elusive frontier town.
The first spot on the list was the Bidar fort. I hopped on to a local bus. Yes, even for a town with a population of a shade under 180K, Bidar had a great fleet of local buses. They were new and very clean. The break-up of KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corp) into NEKRTC (North-East) and NWKRTC (North-West) was clearly working out well, at least in the north-east.
I got dropped off at an Ambedkar circle from where I was instructed to hire an auto. This conversation followed the tourist – auto driver template:
Me: ‘To the fort?’
AD: ‘Yes. 30 rupees only.’ (Watch out whenever someone uses only after specifying an amount. It is anything but.)
Me: ‘No, I’m going to give you 7’
AD: (with a look that sought to establish me as an evil capitalist alien) ‘Are you mad? It is way inside. I’ll drop you to the market for 5′
Me: (in no mood to be fleeced) ‘Alright’
I hopped in with a large(r) man as a co-passenger. All autos in Bidar are shared autos. We waited for a few more passengers to fill this small auto up and three more ladies joined us shortly. Chivalry demanded that I move out of the backseat and hop on to the front, sharing a 3 feet seat with the driver and the man, which it clearly wasn’t designed to.