Shaun Mehta

An informative blog that provides insight of my sometimes mundane, sometimes wacky life as a writer and teacher. To learn more, please go to:

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Travel Log #3 - Southern India

Internship at Infosys Technologies, Mysore Campus.
January 2002

I am an East Indian born and raised in Toronto who traveled to Southern India for the first time. As an aspiring writer the dynamic subcontinent fascinated and inspired me. During my 8-month stint in the country, I completed an exchange at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), an internship at Infosys Technologies in Mysore, and found some time to travel and write. Through my journey, I grew to love the people and land, despite having a few misadventures along the way. I hope you enjoy some of my travel logs:

After 2-weeks of staying in Mysore, I had gathered up enough courage to leave the beautiful sanctuary of the Infosys campus, and travel back to Bangalore to see my friends. This would be my third trip to Bangalore and I was dreading taking autorickshaws and trains. Only God knew how long such a trip would take me and what stresses I would encounter. A fellow work colleague suggested I take a luxury bus. He explained that the buses were air-conditioned, the seats reclined, were cushioned and I would get my own seat without having to share it with a dozen other Indians. I was convinced!

I went to the bus station, bought my ticket, and boarded the bus. As promised, it was half full, cushioned, and cool. Most people were clustered in the middle and front of the bus. The entire back of the bus was empty and I suddenly had happy visions of lying across the four back cushioned seats, reading and sleeping blissfully during the 3.5-hour journey. I practically skipped to the back seat, spread out, and opened my book. I sighed contently.

The bus driver boarded the bus and turned on the powerful diesel engine. Like a bear awakening from hibernation, the bus roared to life. The bus shook so badly that I could not read one word in my book. With a combination of bad suspensions and the fact that the main state highway had more craters than Berlin after World War II, I was tossed around my seat like fruit in a blender. I cannot even begin to describe how much I shook. I was jerking as if I was being electrocuted. Although it took considerable concentration to focus my thoughts because of the earthquake like vibrations it finally dawned upon me why no one was sitting in the back. It was where the bus shook the most! I also realized why the seats were cushioned. The back of my head was slamming into the back of my seat so often that if the seats were not cushioned, I would have reached Bangalore with my skull cracked open.

But the shaking was only nothing compared to how the bus driver drove. I was sitting where the center aisle ended and watched the rushing landscape through the front windshield with horror. The bus driver was driving through the twisting road as if he was challenging death. This man seemed to want to die and had no remorse if he took us all along with him. I wondered if this was a government conspiracy to control India’s exploding population.

I remembered that time I was in Ooty, sitting on the ledge by a waterfall, and tried to find that peaceful meditative state of mind that I had felt then. And after 3 hours of my brain rattling around my aching head, I actually began to fall asleep. That was when the bus driver actually accelerated over a massive speed bump, and launched the bus into the air. As the bus soared, time, and my heart, seemed to freeze. When the bus struck pavement, passengers flew. One couple had their child sleeping across their laps in front of me. Their heads smashed against the ceiling and the child was airborne. I was jolted so badly that I felt as if I had cracked a rib. It felt as if my hipbone and lower ribs had smashed together and I thanked God that I had not bitten my tongue off from the impact.

I know I have complained about trains and autorickshaws, but never again. The bus was definitely the most traumatizing traveling experience I’ve had so far. And I still have the pleasure of traveling back to Mysore after this weekend. What mode of transportation should I take, a plane perhaps? Hmmm….what’s the worst that could happen?


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