Friday, December 11, 2009

Lost in Translation

My return trip from Goa to Bangalore was quite adventurous. My bus was supposed to leave Panjim, which is about 2 hours by car from Palolem Beach, at 6:15 PM. In order to arrive on time and plan to find my bus, I left Palolem at 2:30 PM. I arrived in front of the bus stand at 4:00 PM, earlier than expected. The bus wasn’t there so I decided to go on a little exploration of the surrounding streets. At 5:00 PM, I returned to the bus stop and asked everyone around where I should wait for my bus. After 3 consecutive confirmations of the location of my stop, I proceeded and waited. I realized that I was probably one of 10 white people in the immediate surroundings of about half a million Indians and about 500 buses. It was an impressive sight. And then I wait, I wait…5:45 PM, I wait… 6:00 PM…I wait…6:15… I keep waiting hoping the bus is late. At about 6:20 I get a phone call:
ME: “Hello?”
Voice: Hindu language that I can’t understand
ME: “Hello????”
Voice: Aggravated Hindu language that I still can’t understand
ME: “I believe you have the wrong number, sir!”
Voice: “RONG NUMBA” And more Hindu…
I hang up. And I continue waiting.
I still don’t see any buses with the logo of the tour agent. 6:30…7:00… I keep asking people around for the Seabird Tourist bus to Bangalore. Same answer: “Wait here Sir, it will come!”
At about 7:30 PM, finally the beautiful Seabird Tourist branded bus pulls in front of me. I’m the first one by the door and ask the driver: “Are you going to Bangalore?” He nods (Indian style, which is almost like a NO nod, but not quite so as to say that it’s a YES… I’ll explain later with drawings!) So I jump in and make myself comfortable. Before the bus has to leave the controller verifies everyone’s tickets, so I hand mine over.
Controller: “You’re in the wrong bus, Sir!”
Me: “What? Are you not going to Bengaluru?”
Controller: “Yes we are, but your bus left at 6:15!”
Me: “No way! I’ve been here since 5:00 PM looking at the lady making omelet sandwiches and there have been no Seabird Tourist bus coming by!”
(The omelet sandwiches looked delicious but I was not so adventurous as to try something from the street when I was about to be on a bus for 14 hours with only one pit stop!)
Controller: “Did someone call you?”
Me: “Yes… Someone speaking Hindi called me about an hour ago!”
Controller: “And you said rong numba!”
Me: “Of course I said wrong number! I get 3 calls like this one everyday with people trying talk to someone else! And unfortunately I don’t speak Hindi! Was the person speaking English?”
Controller: “No, we were just looking for you on the bus area!”
This is were I realize I could either keep my cool and try to get on the bus or make a scene and be stranded in Panjim for the night. I thought that if they were REALLY looking for me, they could have found me. I don’t think Charles Danguy is a very Hindi sounding name, therefore look for any of the 10 white people standing there and ask them if they want to go to Bengaluru.
Anyways, I kept my cool and pleaded to get on the bus but he told me that it was completely full (that means really full in India, not like the “The flight is full, sir” they give you at the Delta counter and you walk in the plane with 10 business class seats open). So I had to wait for the manager to make some calls and right when the bus was about to start, he motioned for me to jump in because someone had just cancelled. So I left Palolem at 2:30 pm on Sunday only to arrive at my apartment at 11:00 AM the next day. (Only 380 miles away!)

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