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08 November 2005

enter: the upgrade.

today was slated to be a hellish travel day: fifteen plus hours from arambol, goa, to bangalore, karnataka, a stepping stone on my journey to the east coast of india. i checked out of the piya guesthouse, put my pack in the guesthouse storage room, and took one last relaxing walk through town and down to the beach. when i'd inititally plotted out my india itinerary in amsterdam i'd only scheduled four days for all of goa, but after arriving i'd known that four days wasn't going to be nearly enough. i'd needed substantially more acclimation and chilldown time after a week in mumbai. now, i was on a recon mission which involved poisonous snakes. destination: mamallopuram via bangalore and chennai.

at 1200 i got a taxi ride to mapusa, arriving around 1245. i had time to kill; as per my ticket, i needed to check in at 1400, half an hour before the bus was scheduled to depart. i decided to confirm the pickup location as a precautionary measure. the city bus schedule was nonexistent and i'd read and heard about many bus delays; i figured it wouldn't hurt to make my presence known to the bus company early in case the bus was delayed or canceled. the young guy staffing the ticketing counter took a look at my ticket and told me to come back at 1415. that's what i'd wanted to hear... correct location and nothing about any delays or cancelations.

i spent the next hour or so wandering through the mapusa markets, stocking up on water and fruit for the fifteen hour overnight journey to bangalore. i spent the remainder of the time chilling on a sidewalk eating some tasty oranges. i returned to the bus stand at 1412. the young guy i'd spoken to earlier looked disgusted.

'i told you to come back at 1415,' he said.

i looked at my watch. 1412.

'that's in three minutes [you fucking prick].' i wanted to slap him.

i took one step backward away from the counter. one of my eyes maintained contact with bus guy; the other looked down at my watch. as soon as three minutes had passed and the second hand had hit the 12 i was going to take a step forward. [soon after i was going to seek out an eye doctor.] unfortunately, i never got the chance. some other customers had shown up and he'd escorted them into the back room to assist them.

at 1431, my bus pulled up and i got on. the bus was nothing more than a shuttle; i assumed i'd transfer to the sleeper bus in panaji.

arrival: panaji. it was here that i learned that the 750 rupees i'd paid for an air conditioned sleeper compartment actually only bought me a single seat/bed in a double compartment. [sigh]. the compartment barely looked big enough for one person, let alone two. enter: the upgrade.

'how much you pay me for a double non-ac?' the bus attendant asked.

weren't there documented prices for a double non-ac compartment? i sensed corruption. '50 rupees?'

'oh... no, no... a single is 550. total is 1100. you pay me 250 more?'

i weighed my option. 15 hours of discomfort or $7 for the upgrade.

'fine.'

the double compartment was on the driver's side of the bus in the far back corner. as i pushed my packs up into the compartment, i looked around for a restroom. none. i took a quick inventory of the food i'd eaten that day and determined i was fairly safe.

the bus pulled out of panaji at around 1600. the ride was bumpy as all hell and at one point i was thrown into the air so high that when i landed i had the air knocked out of my lungs. impressive, i thought. i eventually fell asleep at around 0100.

posted by paul on Tue 08 Nov 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

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