Two days that just weren’t my days

This post is about how I travelled to Coimbatore for the ICPC. For information on the contest see my previous post

I had to go to Amrita (its an engineering college run by “Amma” ‘s devotees) at Coimbatore for the ACM ICPC.

Although I knew I can easily get to go by bus without reserving tickets beforehand, I still went to the transport stand and enquired. There was a Super-fast which had reservation at 6 AM, which reached Coimbatore at 10.30. I wasn’t sure whether 10.30 was good enough (I didn’t have the ICPC schedule with me), and I’d prefer this bus to the 2.30 AM bus for obvious reasons. So I booked a ticket. Rs. 112.

When I did realize that 10.30 is not enough I couldn’t do anything – I didn’t cancel it thinking it was a small amount, and I might be able to squeeze it out of CMI.

So I finally took the 2.30 AM bus. Rs. 107.

On the way, from the loud arguments between the conductor and many passengers, I come to understand that this guy does not like stopping the bus at arbitrary places. So early morning when I asked him what time it reaches Amrita, and when he said that there’s no stop there, I quietly retired back to my seat and kept on the lookout for Ettimadai, where I have been just once before.

It must’ve already passed by then, or I must’ve dozed off, or I just did not recognize the place. Because soon I found myself in the city.

So I get down at this stop called Gandhipuram, and tried getting an auto (yeah, I had had enough of buses for the day – although, as I later found out, Kshitij and Nivedita had just left that bus stop some 10 minutes ago). The tamil here seemed a lot different (as confirmed by Nivedita later, she said she herself had trouble understanding) and I had trouble bargaining – I found myself agreeing to 250 for the auto (and he finally took 270).

So I reach Amrita for around Rs. 500. Almost five times what I should’ve spent. Its going to be hard to squeeze that out of CMI.

Contest over. Lets get back to Ernakulam

I started my journey back at around 7 PM. Well I take a bus to Palakkad and from there to Trissur. Now things get interesting. I’m a little sleepy, for some reason I was thinking of how I missed my stop at Coimbatore, I suddenly read എറണാകുളം (Ernakulam) on this one bus – and wow! – there did not seem to be any rush for it (The other Ernakulam/Thiruvananthapuram bound buses had a great rush). I got in. On the seat to my right a passenger asks another: ഇത് അമല വരി എലെ പോഗനെ? This goes via Amala?. The reply was something to the effect: Yes. Did you not read the name before entering?

While statements like this should’ve made me check the route again, maybe ask someone, I somehow did not. Perhaps I felt that it would upset my pride if I show that I’m not sure of what I’m doing. I did not know where the hell Amala was, I just thought it was somewhere on the way to Ernakulam and this young man was travelling for the first time and needed assitance.

Half an hour later the bus started. The conductor took a lot of time to come. In my mind I was wondering whether it was possible to get away with buying tickets on transport buses. Hmm.

The conductor finally arrived. I now had to pay. One Ernakulam, I asked. The look of amusement on his face told me everything. I paid up for a ticket and got down at dear old Amala. Amala Hospital and Research center. The conductor and the two fellow passengers (who were discussing the route of the bus) told me how to get back to Trissur. Ernakulam was in the opposite direction. (So where did I read Ernakulam on the name plate? It could well have been a stop it had already visited)

Since it was almost midnight, the road was deserted. During the long wait for the bus, I kept imagining how interesting it would be to spend the night on the road side if I don’t get a bus. Soon I decided to take an auto. This auto guy had come with his auto to eat at the small restaurant behind me. And so when I he took me in (Bah! for Rs. 60. He first said 70. I blatantly told him: I have no idea of the rates, but I’m sure you are asking too much. Lets agree at 60). God then sent a bunch of auto walla’s from the nearby auto stand to come and make a hugh fuss (Ah! don’t you know the way these auto unions work? They are not supposed to take customers from near auto stands). During the heated argument I get my bus, and run away and save Rs.55.

(As a side note: On the bus, the conductor talks of a hartal [in Trissur, later mentioned by Dad]. Since now, after the day’s incidents, I’m very much paying attention to the world around me, I imagine how I would spend the day at Trissur bus stop if it becomes tomorrow by the time I reach there and the buses stop plying)

At 0000 hrs, I finally got my (crowded) bus home. Needless to say, I struggled to keep my eyes open. I’ve had enough with missing stops, and gettin on wrong routes. I read every board that passed by me.

And finally at 0130 hrs, I spend Rs. 50 for an auto from the ernakulam transport stand back home.

Hmm. Was an expensive journey for a T-shirt and a bag.

P.S. About the title. On Day One of the ICPC, Kshitij, with reference to my expensive journey and a lot of walking I had had to do within the campus said that that wasn’t my day.

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