29th February 2016

There was a bus that was about to leave, but no one called out for passengers to get on board. The people at the stand seated with me seemed uninterested. But then again, neither of them were going to Tirupathi. One of those Indian men said the bus right in front of us is the one leaving at 5pm to Tirupathi. But, here it was about to leave and no boarding call. It was like 10 minutes to 5pm. I was starting to get concerned. Finally, I just went up to the bus and asked if it was the one to Tirupathi and showed my ticket to the conductor. He confirmed and showed me where my seat was.

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my berth number

Ok, this was a bus I had not experienced before. The bus was not like a usual bus. I had booked a sleeper bus yes, but this was totally unexpected. Instead of seats in a row like an ordinary bus, this had rooms. Each room had 4 beds, 2 below, 2 above. The beds were numbered according to seating ticket. The room had no door, only a curtain to cover. And the window was blocked by the bed on top so, those who sleep on top can see the outside, but not the ones below. There was a tv and plug points. But my plug point didn't work and I couldn't charge my phone. Neither did the tv worked. Since I am afraid to sleep on top beds, I chose to sleep in a lower berth. There even were covers to help you sleep better. Most importantly, it was clean.

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the "room" with all facilities

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as can be seen in this image, couldn't see outside from the window as it is blocked by the bed on top.

As the bus started to move,right on time at 5pm, I was worried. I was the only person in this room for 4. When I got on board, I didn't notice anyone else in the bus. So as far as I know, it was only me and the conductor & bus driver on this bus! Oh shoot! I seriously didn't want to be completely alone in a night bus. Worse, I didn't want to be the only FEMALE in an INDIAN NIGHT BUS! I remembered the rape and murder incident in a Delhi bus. This should NOT be my fate. I thought to myself, "I am going on a good trip, I am going to see the God, therefore nothing bad can happen to me. God will protect me". But as much as I tried to convince myself that nothing would happen to me and that I will be safe, I was shit scared.

Its a moving bus, no one outside can see whats happening inside. Even if I scream and shout and do whatever, there was no hope. My phone is still not working. Airtel takes 24hours to activate. Since I bought the sim only last night, I would have to wait till past 10pm tonight. So, I have absolutely no way of getting any help from anyone. I really shouldn't have agreed to this. Then again, I didn't know. This was a bad idea. Shivers were climbing up & down my spine. “Literally”. This definitely was a situation that I was scared for my life. Only God could save me from this “for real”. The only conciliation I had was that my dad could track me [or rather my phone]. In case I am raped, murdered and someone took my phone with them, that could only help find the criminal, not save my life. But that was the only hope. I took pictures while I was traveling. Whoever that see them will see how I was on my last few hours.

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I tried to look out and check my path, but it was hopeless. All I could see was night and some treetops. I was very alert in what was going on, on the road and in the bus. At about 7.30pm or 8pm I heard voices from another room. 2 men were speaking in Hindi. At least there are another 2 passengers. Good thing? Maybe not, as they are also men. I was as quiet as a mouse. Didn't make any noise. Kept my bag where the pillow was, covered my legs with the covering provided and pretended to sleep. I was glad I got the shoes, as it was an AC bus, it was quite cold. Also, as the night came on, the heat outside also gradually reduced. I knew it was useless to book an AC bus as I was travelling in the night. But that was the only available option. Right now I had more serious issues to worry about than being cold. I tried to reduce the AC strength from the outlets but couldn't so I just turned them at another direction. I didn't call the conductor to help me with anything. I really didn't want anyone to know I am here and didn't want to attract any attention. Didn't even remove my shoes to sleep, in case I had to fight back and run out. I just had everything close to me,ready for the worst,ready to run. My handbag tangled around my arm and kept on the pillow to lay my head. So, if I get up and run, it would be attached to me. I didn't have to pick it up or look for it or anything. No joke, I was seriously scared and was expecting the worst. Still with my shoes on, feet slightly out the bed so they wont dirty the sheet, bag under my head, I just closed my eyes and opened my ears and concious of what was happening.

On and off I would try my best to look out the window,but with not much help on my whereabouts. I listened to the sound of the road. The road was well carpeted and smooth. There were some stops which seemed like toll stops, highway intersections. At some junctions [very few though] they stopped for passengers but I didn't hear anyone getting in. after about 8.30pm the road changed to a less maintained one. With pot holes and cows blocking the road [in the middle of the night?really?]. The driver was driving well, but as I was in a below berth, I could feel all bumps and holes on the road. It was very uncomfortable. I would not chose this bus again for that reason alone. The seater to me, is much more comfortable comparatively [just my opinion]. I took a peak outside and by the way it seemed we were somewhere in the middle of nowhere. With trees and no lights or houses. Wow! Just great! The entire journey was a test of my faith in God. It is definitely something I will never repeat.

After a short while the 2 men talking in the other room got down. I noticed from the sound that they got down in a town area. Now me back to being alone with the conductor and the bus driver. It was a huge bus. Must have had atleast 10 rooms with 4 berths each. If it was a group trip, would have been a very suitable mode to travel. Ofcourse I still prefer the seaters, but ideal for a group trip with privacy in each room. For me ofcourse, it was the privacy that was giving me chills.

It was about 9.30pm now. The conductor came to my room and said “Madam we came to Tirupathi,last stop”. Ofcourse he spoke in Hindi. I was super glad and quickly got out as fast as I could. [I really should have thanked those 2 men for bringing me safely, but in my hurry I forgot to say thank you. But I am thankful wholeheartedly].

Out of the bus, finally, I was glad I was safe.

The bus was still there for a little while. No one else got out, so it was only me afterall. After the toil and turns experienced horizontally, I was a bit dizzy. Good that I didn't carry heavy luggage. I was dropped at a middle of a town. I asked the conductor if it was Tirupathi and he said yes. I was skeptical. Have they dropped me at a wrong stop?

Here I am, out of the bus to Tirupathi.

So... where's the Kovil...?

Original Post on https://thesathiworld.wordpress.com

Published by SaThi