Friday, May 8, 2009

Long Live the Indian spirit !!

Travel is part of my job, and there is no state in India that I have not been to. Traveling for work across the years has made me wiser on most counts. It is the best lesson in a crash language course, dealing with people, exploring a place in a way no tourist could imagine and of course the biggest lesson in crisis management.

I do have scores of travel stories to share, but the one that is deeply imprinted in my mind is the one I experienced in early January this year

I was traveling from Chennai to Bangalore and since I did not manage to get a confirmed train ticket , I decided to travel by the Karnataka State Transport Volvo bus popularly known as KSRTC Airavath buses. It was a night’s journey which would land me in Bangalore at 5 in the morning.

The bus I was in had a smiling girl as the conductor, who checked everybody’s tickets and handed over the complimentary mineral water with a charm which would put all the well heeled Kingfisher airhostesses to shame.

The journey was uneventful and I was not even aware when it was time to alight the next morning. I walked out of the bus stand to get into a rickshaw and halfway through I realize, I have forgotten my handbag in the bus. For two minutes I was in a shock, I did not know what to do.

I do not know how many of you know what can come in a ladies handbag. For me , its my mini universe. It had everything including my wallet , credit cards , mobile , jewelry , tickets for my onward journey , the works !!

I requested the rickshaw driver to take me back to the bus stand, and when I reached , I had no money to pay !! I could just about mutter a thank you

I must have searched pillar to post for a bus with a lady conductor, and that was no identification at all. All buses looked the same white colour, many were going onward to Mysore and I was lost. I must have climbed a zillion buses and searched for my elusive handbag. In addition, language was a huge barrier. Half of the conductors and drivers there could understand only Kannada

I then located the KSRTC office which as usual at 5 in the morning was closed. I explained my problem to the watchman there who said, don’t worry I will help you and took me to the bus hangar there.

And lo and behold, just outside the bus hangar was this charming lady conductor with my handbag. I could not thank her enough

I did not know how many of them to thank that I got my handbag (read mini universe J ) back , right from the rickshaw driver , the drivers there who directed me to the KSRTC office , the watchman , the lady conductor….

I would have felt scores of times like most others that India is a country of kleptomaniacs dishonest people, and what not. But here is an example right in front of me of somebody who waited for may be an hour there, to return what was mine. She could have easily taken it with her, but she did not. Maybe in any other country , it would probably be the case….but not here.

I guess India still has its traditions and values intact. Long Live the Spirit !!


ravishankar said...

This was a heartwarming story,I am aware that Karnataka employs lady bus conductors but was unaware that they also did overnite trips....

SG said...

Nice heart-warming narration. Liked your writing style.