Grumpy Traveller: Cold comfort

Grumpy Traveller: Cold comfort
Photo Credit: Pankaj

Feeling all shades of blue in a bus ride from Manali to Delhi, thanks to the co-passengers

Sanchita Guha
December 01 , 2014
02 Min Read

A visit to Manali last year involved some death-defying activities — a) sitting in a car that barely clung to the slippery road to Rohtang Pass; b) jumping off a cliff at full tilt while harnessed to some flimsy flying gear; c) taking a 15-hour bus ride with the most lethal co-passengers possible: a three-generation family of Bengalis.

I’m not a fan of long-distance bus rides in India. Blame it on the atrociously dirty highway loos, numb legs, and the ceaseless, loud cell phone conversations on board. These die down eventually. But the one battle-cry nothing can ever silence is “thanda lege jabeeeey”. Anytime you are near some Bengalis, you’re certain to hear this shrill, dire warning against catching a cold, even in mid-June.

And so went the grandfather in this group. This gent produced a running commentary on everything around the bus before the trip began — naturally, only he could aid a busful of blind people. When the wheels finally rolled, he began demanding that his 12-year-old dadubhai be protected from the overhead air-conditioning vent, which, as everyone knows, kills children in mysterious ways. Bursts of “AC off korey dao, thanda lege jabey” came at 30-second intervals. Gramps filled these 30 seconds with gems like “Call the driver in Delhi, and tell him it’s 6.30pm now, and we’ll reach at 7am” — Delhi must have drifted off to a time zone different from the rest of India.

After an hour or so, Grandpa got his way with the AC. The overfed grandson, soon suffocated by the lack of air, began throwing up. Now Grandpa demanded that the AC be turned on to cool the child. The mother, holding several paper bags full of puke, stood up inside the speeding Volvo to chuck them outside. The bus lurched, she stumbled forward... and dropped all the bags on the driver, spilling the contents. “Look, the driver is washing himself,” Grandpa informed us. “You’re lucky,” I thought to myself, “that he hasn’t trussed up your whole family and thrown you all into the luggage hold.” This, in the middle of a moonlit night, with the Beas running alongside the road, the mountains looming above the gorge. Silly of me to think I could enjoy the scenery. Epilogue: at the dinner stop, Grandpa declared to his irritated wife, “You don’t understand. I have to look after everything.” Who would doubt it?

Related Articles

Raveena Tandon's...

Karan Kaushik December 29 , 2020

Book a Stay in an Igloo...

OT Staff December 22 , 2020

Here to there

Explore Directions(Routes) and more...
to Go

Other Editions

Outlook’ is India’s most vibrant weekly news magazine with critically and globally acclaimed print and digital editions. Now in its 23rd year...

Explore All
  • Check out our Magazine of the month
  • Offbeat destinations
  • In-depth storytelling
  • Stunning pictures
  • Subscribe