Quit work, officially. No remnants or traces but for the money, the letters of recommendation and the formalities. Felt weird when the cabbie dint come to pick me up, of course i told him not to come.I needed to go somewhere to come back to a new beginning. I already had a new start. Just wanted to make sure there were tangible beginnings.
Day 1
Took the Garib Rath to Bangalore. It is interesting to see Ivy League management people warm up to each other, one is a young veteran and the other, an enthusiastic newcomer. A lil' lady in a disco outfit looks around for her frooti albeit a yawn while her mother lulls her 3 month old brother to sleep. She was a picture of dignity and quiet for a 3 year old.Sharing food and opinions about rising costs in pre-school and the rat race in school education,all of us retired to sleep. Thankfully, no babies decided to cry.
Day 2
Bangalore station,prebooked auto queues and in no time, I was drained and fatigued (no breakfast and very light dinner on the train) on the Mysore bound bus.A hurried simple meal amidst tears of fatigue and helplessness at the assumption of things.In a move of calculated huff and impulse, I cancel the Qualis tickets to Ooty and just want to hit the sack. Plans looked dangerously derailed, temper flying like swords and daggers.An evening in Mysore, not at all half-hearted but bravely with a Plan B of coming back to Bangalore.I dint have the luxury of too many days and definitely dint want to spend that time travelling to reach destinations,yeah.A tonga ride around Mysore Palace, a roasted cob of corn in the gentle rain,Mysore bhajji and the fluffy butter dosa, lots of raw mangoes and pink cotton candy.Also, had this bright idea of wanting to watch Angels and Demons in a 70mm screen.Dinner at the Residency, decent Chinese.Met two men with your on-the-face wigs.Something told me that Ooty tonight.As luck would have it,the hotel helped me get a bus at 11pm in the nite, until then it was Apocalypto on the tube.I had to sit in a half ticket space on a full one,my legs cried for some breathing space.Bobbed my head many times till Ooty.
I hated myself for not getting enough warm clothes, at 3:30 am getting an auto to reach Wellington killed all my drowsiness besides losing the way two times thanks to the smartass driver.The cold clammy sheets and blankets in the hotel were god to me.
Day 3
Missed the 7:45 am heritage toy train from Wellington to Ooty and probably, Metupulayam.I woke up at 10, had breakfast at 11 and then the rains,magical moment it was.I dint regret coming, thank you. Read all the news and watched TV till enough time to run down to the station. The quaint ticket counter had punch cards and at Cunnoor,lunch was garma garam rice and sambar,and duplicate Irani samosas with onion fillings.The camera was the most popular hero. A Maharashtrian platoon of wannabe husbands and wives and lil' children sat next to me and one of the kids took away a rust biscuit from me through proper channel.Children never show restraint. Parents do get embarrassed but some go along.At Ooty,paused for poses and met so many Tamilians, including a TT who rendered a live MS Subbu number so willingly at the bookshop,both he and I exchanged bows.I got English August there. Home-made chocs and ear covers, colorful ones and the bus to Wellington.It rained and it made for the perfect setting for tea and pakodas, all kinds.
Dinner was light and Chinese again. A quiet walk, life comes to a standstill after 7pm. Ooty looked very beautiful at night,a feeling of oneness in the wilderness amidst the modern settings.Heard some citizen from the city use the f-word very generously over phone in the room-balcony above.The feeling of winter and warmth is exhilirating.
Day 4
Bye bye Wellington.While waiting for the Ooty bound toy train at 7:45am, I meet a Tamil family who quizzed me as though I have applied for permanent citinzenship in the United republic of Tamil Nadu.Who?where from? and the blah.Happens,a chink in the armour case.Took 1st class tickets, sat in 2nd class because the cabin was deliberately left with no space as 3 Bengali families spread their generations all over.The meandering ride in the misty morning had a beauty of its own.A south indian breakfast and Mysore bound on a tata winger.A Haryanvi family with 2 children and an Oriya couple.The Haryanvi husband is abusive and impatient and his wife a picture of fortitude.The Oriya couple, matter-of-fact.Some 42 hairpin turns and landscape by the passing window including Bandipur.Tender coconut water and some slices of raw mango.Reached Mysore on time for the express train to Bangalore not before having the railway meals.It was sheer bliss on the train, economy flight-like seats and modest goodies- biscuits and a bottle of mineral water.The same routine of getting a pre-booked auto to my friend's place,and getting rebuked by the driver for lack of correctness of the address due to being the first time.Ok, extra 20 bucks and disparaging looks of horror.

Correta is a million dollar baby, the same spunky girl with loads of love,letters-mails-chats kept us connected and here,I am meeting her after 11 years.Peals of excitement and it never felt 11 years, it was just yesterday when we parted at the grove in college.Dinner at Millers Steak,a cool place where waiters are dressed as rodeos and we cut a cake for someone special and also, had loads of non-stop laughter and chatter.

MG Road for reliving old memories dint happen as desired,definitely maybe the next time, sweetheart.In the biting rain,and a backpack to cry for with my camera and non-commital autos, I hated the romantic weather for the first time.At the bus station,a callous remark makes me go jittery, is this what i asked for?do i deserve a lil' less or more?The bigger worry is will that one-legged tramp pull up his shorts?No,all shame washed away, the world can watch and not laugh but the world whipped him for being indecent.He sat in the mud and rain,to hide the remnants of his manhood just in time to remind me of another experience at Majestic -- a conductor who forgot to close his fly is found scratching his assets in public, eeks.

Bye bye Bangalore, it was good times.Laughed, fought, cried.I would not go to sleep with wet clothes on.I wrapped the Volvo blanket and did a stage change of clothes.Sleep descended.Selves reconciled.

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