>(All characters and situations fictitious. No connection to anyone or anything in the big bad world around us!)
Tony, boy, was he glad! He managed to get a seat on the bus and it was a great feeling indeed. A long and slow journey waited, and within minutes the bus would be inching ahead to full capacity.
The Jantivahana from Yeshwantpur to ITPL winds along one of the longest routes in Bangalore city. Not that there’s no shorter route to reach the destination, but the state-run bus service means to connect as many areas as possible, given that ITPL is nestled in the distant suburbs of the city, and not many private carriers operate from different localities to here.
The traffic was monstrous enough to drive anyone crazy. Presently the bus left the station and started plodding along the central business district, and Tony closed his eyes, hoping to catch up on some lost sleep. He had a long day at work waiting.
Flop! Somebody sat down heavily on the seat next to his, and he felt slightly displaced. He was forced to turn and look at the source of such an impact. It was a rotund personality, dark in complexion, a thin moustache running above his lips. He had unkempt hair which smelt of coconut oil, wore a shirt with floral patterns and the top two buttons removed. The man purchased a ticket to Maharani’s college stop. Not a great distance at all. Tony looked out the window for a second and went back to his nap. Just that he wasn’t getting lulled to sleep however much he tried. His thoughts kept going back to the individual seated next to him. It reminded him of a person who looked similar. He tried recollecting his memory.
“For men may come and men may go, but I go on forever”. Tony found the line by Alfred Tennyson very apt for his tenure in the company he was working with. He quoted this, while he was walking down M.G.Road with a pal, and looking at the back lit hoarding that had the picture of a svelte woman advertising a brand of Whiskey. He bumped into someone coming the opposite way. “I’m sorry, please excuse”, he said and moved on. The person, to whom he said took a few steps back and stopped Tony. “Hi, you look familiar. Do you have a minute on you?” “I’m sorry I don’t know you.” “You’re Tony aren’t you?” “Yeah, that’s right. Tell me, how could I help you?” “That’s great then. You see I have to deliver this package to you. I was told that you would be waiting near the Metro station. I’m sorry I’m late that you started walking away. Thankfully I found you!” Tony was zapped. He suspected foul play immediately, and started walking away quickly. He didn’t even stop to pull his buddy out from there. It couldn’t be denied that fear gripped him. So much that he found himself running. He ran till he was out of breath, turned to an alley that connects M.G.Road to Church Street, reached for the nearest wall he could crash on to. Who on earth was the stranger? Most probably a bagman. When he could breathe normally again, he flashed out his mobile phone and called his friend. “Where the hell are you?” “You tell me where you are? Everything ok with you. Is that bloke still after you?” “Nope, I’m alone and walking back and forth looking for you. So where are you?” ‘Oh, I’m near the back door of Emgees. You know, where you can get on to Church Street.” ‘Ok, hang in there, and I’ll join you in a minute.” When his friend did join him, Tony saw that he hadn’t come empty handed. In his hand was the package that he had run away from. “You ran like crazy! This IS the thing you were waiting for” “What! You ok? Now don’t try funny business with me.” “Of course I won’t, you know that” “C’mon man, tell me what the deal is.” “Easy go! It’s just that the courier that came from Oracle didn’t reach you, as you were out the whole day. I wanted to surprise you, so I called up this chap who had brought the package to be delivered, arranged for me to come here and give the stuff to you personally!” “Hell, why would you want to do THAAT? Like a parcel can’t wait for a day!” “The parcel could wait for sure, but I couldn’t!” “You’re weird” “Why don’t you open it and see what’s in.” Tony had no choice but to humour his pal. He opened the parcel gingerly, and realized at first glance, that it was a job offer from Oracle, with a handsome pay pack and a fancy designation!
The traffic was painfully slow-moving. So was the bus. It was nearing Maharani’s college and the courier-agent lookalike was getting ready to alight. Tony smiled to himself. He never found out as to why his M.G.Road pal wanted to be present at the moment he saw his offer, but he did realize later that the latter was interested in some research on logistics management.
In a couple of minutes, the next to him was filled by an elderly woman who was waiting for the seat from the time the bus departed from the terminus. Goodness, would he ever get a face even remotely interesting as a traveling companion? The conductor came by, and she bought a ticket to Marathalli. Heck, that was some distance! He looked away, and caught sight of a lady with a crimson top, on a scooterette. She was not too bad looking. He tried to fix his gaze on her as long as he could. All that came to his mind now was the Jasmine seller two streets away from his house. He turned his head back in and looked at the occupant in the next seat, and let out a big sigh!
“It’s going to be a ‘memorable’ journey, and I’ve nearly had it already!”