Yes, this is about the Indiblogger contest by Expedia. Check out the website at http://www.expedia.co.in.
Being an aquarian, I have this typical trait of silently observing people and taking down mental notes. I am one of those who sit in the corner, almost invisible, smiling to themselves while watching people do what people do. I have met my share of the quirky and the awesome. Long journeys can be tedious and some free on-board entertainment never harmed anyone. Here are a few gems-
The shirtless bugger.
This one walks away with the tag of being the most annoying yet entertaining fellas I've seen while travelling. It was an overnight bus journey from my hometown Chhatarpur, a small town in Madhya Pradesh to my maternal Grandfather's place in Gwalior (MP). The bus makes a small halt at an almost non-existent town somewhere down the road, a few villagers alight and hops in a lean, young guy, in his early 20's I assume, half drunk, with the snobbish smirk of a five-star hotel employee.
As the conductor approached him for the ticketing business, he gave him a warm tight hug and with much adoration in his eyes, almost as if meeting a long lost brother, said, "Did you recognize me? You have to recognize me. How can you forget me?" Taken a little aback, the conductor carefully studied his face and came to the conclusion that he is just a drunk lunatic, a clan fairly abundant in the poverty stricken areas of Madhya Pradesh. Acknowledging the fact that the bus was already halfway through the woods and throwing the guy out would be a bit inhumane, the conductor made one of the biggest mistakes of that day in his life. He started humouring the guy. The guy went on about how his and the conductor's father go back in time where they sold samosas at a shop and how the business collaboration fell apart because the conductor's father had cheated his father and fled.
Seems like, now that he had "finally" caught hold of him, the guy wanted to settle the score. This was it, the fuse was lit, the conductor shoved the guy to an empty seat, made him sit and shouted out loud that he was throwing him out at the next stop! He went to the driver to convey the message only to turn around and find that the lunatic had taken off his shirt, and was hugging a fellow passenger- some 15-16 year old male who was simpering, caught in the awkward situation, was trying to get out of the bear hug.
The conductor came back running. The rules had changed now, the lunatic was no longer claiming anything pertaining to the conductor or his father whatsoever, it was like he almost forgot why he even boarded the bus. He expressed his fear saying that the world was out there to get him and rob him of his money- which he had none. Most passengers had started giggling by now, few were fearful of the lunatic, admittedly I fell in the latter group.
Suddenly he put his hand in his underwear and took out a bundle of ten rupee notes, it would have been hardly fifty-sixty rupees there but he held it with pride, saying that he just needed to reach somewhere safe, he didn't mind the price at all. He also spelled out the "somewhere safe" place's idea of his- he meant a country liquor bar. He got up, hugged the conductor, got all emotional and said, "Bhaiya, I'll miss you, just give me fifty rupees and drop me at a country liquor bar. I will.... hold on bhaiya, hold on... I think I need to pee, can you please stop the bus now?"
The conductor complied. He seemed fed up and as the lunatic got down he shouted "Just drive!!" to the driver. The passengers were amused, while some wondered what would have happened to the guy and whether it was ethical to leave him in the middle of the woods, and as you usual I belonged to the latter group. But I guess he had earned it! That little bugger!! We didn't hear him chasing the bus or at least shouting for the bus to stop. It was weird because he sounded drunk but not so much wasted. I looked through the window and saw a few pale, dim lights across the road, a few shacks in the middle of nowhere! There would have been no way the lunatic wanted to reach this place all this while! There could have been no way this would be planned! Was it? The bus was the last one of the night on this route! The conductor would never have agreed if the lunatic would have told him that he wanted to go to this village. All I can say is- if it was a plan, it was pure evil.
That time, I was terrified of the guy but when I now think of him, I remember a guy who made my boring bus journey memorable. Trust me, he is not alone. I invite the reader to visit the interiors of Madhya Pradesh and be amused at the way people are holding up against poverty and unemployment. When life snatches away the smiles, you just learn new ways to laugh.