Our holiday in Puri begins with an evening in South Bombay. We travel by train but perhaps not often enough, because we have reached VT without checking if our train is leaving on time. We are enamoured by the idea of the Duronto train after Dhanno’s review of it, and smug in the fact that we have 1st class A/C tickets, for which we paid more than a flight would have cost. The train though is more than 7 hours late, careless of our touching faith in it. It will leave only after midnight.
We could go back home for a few hours, the city has had a bandh of sorts, and it would take only an hour or so to go back. Or we could go to a friend’s place. I, reluctant to leave home always, am cranky for a while, looking at what cancellations would cost, until Teja gets huffy. We are already on holiday, in his mind. So instead of cancellations, we make calls, change bookings, make new plans.
Teja asks the security at Sterling if we can go in with our luggage. They check it. I tell them our train is late. They cluck sympathetically, but don’t really seem to care. It’s the first time we will watch a film in Sterling after it became a multiplex. We get a show of ‘Murder 3’ and laugh through it. We sit on the verandah in Barista, have more coffee than we are used to and eavesdrop on conversations. At least I do. Some girls are planning their move to their first rental house. I soak in their excitement, and feel happy.
If I were to draw a personal map of the places I feel happy, this verandah would be on it. Here, I feel I could be part of many stories.
We still have 4 hours until midnight. We walk from VT to Colaba, to eat dinner at Cafe Ideal. Teja has a haversack, I have a pulley bag. The wheels on the cobblestone, sound like a train. The roads are peaceful, quiet. We talk of things we did many years ago.
At the restaurant, the waiters smile at us when we leave, as if wishing us well on our journey. Outside, a group of Arab men surround a paan stall, while I try to chew paan politely. They grin, I grin back.
We walk back from Colaba to VT, and stop for another coffee. The girls are still at the same table. Inside a group of older women play cards.
The city seems different when you have luggage in your hands. There is much to be said about being a tourist in your own city, once in a while. Of course, South Bombay is not really our own city, that being the very different Bumm-Bumm- Bhole-Land.