[We too went to our sleeper berths and slept. I guess, the bus must have started at around one after filling up the rooftop and giving that family a double sleeper seat.]
I was in a tee and jeans. During night I felt cold, but didn’t have anything except for a filmsy cotton shawl. Hey we had not planned to go to Amritsar, where sometimes the temperature goes down as low as 0° C.
I was oblivious of how many times the bus had stopped but when I opened my eyes, it was past seven, and when I moved the curtains from my window, a beautiful foggy wintry morning was welcoming me and the sun was trying to show its bright smile.
On the way, I could see some small villages, children going to school, people fully attired in winter clothes riding scooters for work, some ongoing constructions and small roadside dhabas (kiosks) starting their day.
The bus stopped for 2 minutes at one place on the highway and I could see some of the male fraternity getting down and relieving themselves. No no, I had closed my eyes then !! But lucky, lucky them !! I kept lying and enjoying the north Indian winter. There was another reason why I did not want to get up.
I do not know how you take it but the worst thing I fear in any journey or outings in India is lack of toilets let alone clean. I fail to understand why this basic need is so ignored or shall I say are we shy to even mention about it ? I have written earlier how a toilet made me change my apartment in Geneva.
And this tour (from Delhi to Amritsar to coming back to Mumbai) had just started to test my patience. Remember, it was more than 12 hours since I had visited last, so an urgent need arose for the same. Since I drink lot of water, the need was almost SOS.
Slowly it was eight now. The bus was moving very fast and we did not know where we had reached at that time. I kept telling myself to hold on for some more time, our destination was about to come. It looked an era to me. I tried to sleep again but no, it won’t let me.
This was in Phagwara
Suddenly I saw one board and then reality struck ! We had just crossed Phagwara ! Jallandhar was yet to come ! Amritsar is around 90 KMs from Jallandhar. More than full three hours to go since it was almost office time and the bus had to pass through the cities. I, in no way could hold for that long. I sent PP who was sitting down (I was on the first floor sleeper berth) to ask the driver to stop at any Gas station or restaurant informing about the need. I wondered what other ladies were going through.
Well, after 5 minutes which seemed 5 hours, PP came back saying he could not even reach the driver ! The door to him was closed and he was not responding. I shrieked !! I yelled at him. I wanted to go. PP explained how very large boxes were kept on the passage blocking the entire way and people had either kept their legs on them or sleeping on them. What rubbish !! I was not in a mood to listen to this bullshit.
Immediately I put on my shoes, hitting one person on my way down from the upper berth. I tied my shoe laces sitting besides a lady. Her husband too was trying to reach the driver. They were on their honeymoon trip and what a way to start !!
When she saw me getting up, she joined me as if I was the leader. We climbed onto the boxes, hitting some more on the way and banged on the door. It had become so urgent for both of us that we were ready to tell the driver to either stop or see the scene there itself. Both of us were furious. Fortunately she had a shrill voice and somebody from that side heard her.
And we were further blessed because one gas station came within 5 minutes and people sitting in the front helped us getting down. PP and that lady’s husband also got down and waited for us.
Anyway, the journey thereafter seemed relaxed and comfortable, only worrying factor was loss of time. I had mentally prepared to see three major landmarks in Amritsar before getting back.
We reached Amritsar at 10:30 AM.