Day trippers

Jobbing by day, sleeping by night. Its a cushy life. Take a shower. Brush teeth. Run. Office. Bus back home. Cook. Eat. Sleep. Sundays are filler episodes. Catch a movie, or two. Read a bit. Sleep. Sulk about Mondays. Young people these days have nothing better to do than sulk, they say. A cushy life, a cushy job. No complaints there. Mp3 tunes. Commute. Cigarettes. The always exciting run up behind the bus. All the while, the city whizzes past. Occasionally, there's the mall. Beer on Saturday night. Booking tables at the restaurant. Domino's Pizza. More cigarettes. Denims. The glittery riffraff of the young urban professional. Check wallet for change. Hundred Rupees. Bargains with the auto. Sleep. Wake up. Pay landlady. Shop for supplies. Pay bills. Cook. Work. Eat. Sleep. It's stable. It's certain. Collect paycheck. Caught in this stable juncture, the Hipposaur, like thousands before him is where previous generations wanted to be - devouring a McDonald's burger. And sometimes, you simply need to untangle. Free, of course is an overrated term. You break free only to return to the comfort of the cage. But the point is that you know, as George Lucas remarked, that your cage door is open.

That's why, there was (not a cage, but) Vodarevu.

The plan was made at 9 am. People were called through the afternoon. Slowly, the intrepid explorers signed up for their mission. Vodarevu it was. Evening came and Babasaur, Fishasaur, Walrasaur, Sogosaur, Tarisaur, Tinysaur and Hipposaur huddled together. A few cigarettes, gulps of water and some gorgeous herb later, they were ready to go. Vodarevu is a virgin, well, almost virgin beach in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. Located about 360 kms from Hyderabad, Vodarevu is purportedly better than the more accessible Suryalanka, which is supposed to be infested with greasy uncles, oily aunties and their innumerable children. The children could be noisy and prone to littering. But one digresses. The beach is a clean stretch of pale sand that is lined by fishermens' villages.

All in all, a good place to catch a beer, they reckoned.

The rag tag bunch hopped into the cab that was to drop them to the bus stand. The cab driver, as it turned out shortly, was a raving lunatic. A few wrong turns and misguided attempts to kill pedestrians later, the cab reached Imlibun bus station. They were still alive. It was a miracle. Soon, tickets for the town nearest to Vodarevu, which was Bapatla, were bought. The rag tag bunch of intrepid urbane explorers stood in line. The 'Super Luxury' bus from APSRTC wheeled in at the designated platform. It was dusty and had the reckless air of having seen many highways.

It had reclining seats. That was very important.

The bus trotted to the eastern border of the City, all the way through Uppal. National Highway 9 showed the way to the first scheduled stop, at Nakrekal. Soon, Suryapet and Kodad zipped past, punctuated with occasional cigarette breaks. At four am, the herbivores and carnivores rolled into Vijaywada. Guntur soon showed up in the horizon. A few kilometres away lay the last stop, at Bapatla. The town was sleepy eyed when the merry bunch trooped across the bus station for a quick round of breakfast. Fresh idlis, dosas and a lone pesarattu followed the chilli spiked chutney.

They were in Guntur, the chillies were fiery and they were awake.

Soon, right across the railway station, a giant seven seater auto was summoned. The man agreed to ferry the bunch till Vodarevu, which was 30 kms away. Scuttling through bumpy dust paved roads, cutting through date palm lined paddy fields, the auto trudged on, all seven of its occupants included. The palm lined fields led to the first whiff of the moist sea breeze. They felt in on their faces. 40 minutes later, they got off the auto onto a three way junction. That was Vodarevu.

The soil was sandy and you could hear the sea.

A quick walk down to the beach revealed a small hotel hidden behind shrubs. Yes, there were rooms, they were told by the suspicious hotel manager, clad in a vest and lungi. That would be 300 Rupees, thank you very much. The room had a set of fans, and a loo. What more can you ask for? Orders for lunch were quickly despached. And you had to order by weight, not by the plate. Sure enough, half a kilo of chicken curry and half a kilo of the freshest fish fry were ordered, besides the regulation rasam, curry, pachdi and pappu. It was 10 in the morning and it was time for a dip. Two hours later, it was beer time. Ergo, the Hipposaur and his friend, the Walrusaur headed back to the three way junction in search of preferably cold alcohol. Soon, chilled beer was found and loaded onto a crate.

They were happy.

But here was a problem. The sun was climbing and that was not very nice. Sure enough, they discovered a low shack with a coconut leaf ceiling. This was right on the beach and could just about fit in seven people. They threw open a double bedspread. The beers were placed in the centre. They started playing a game of memory. The beach was clean, pale sand and the sun was bright in a cloudless sky. The waves were quite simply, awesome.

The rest was a blur.

A long soak in the sea. More beer, and some more beer later lunch beckoned. And boy, it was tasty! The Natu Kodi (chicken curry) was spiked with fiery red flecks of chilly, cooked very dry, so you could relish tiny morsels as you dug your way through the pappu and rice. The fish was coated in spices in a thin batter and deep fried. It was crunchy on the outside, with soft white flesh inside. They ended the feast with loads of curd. The helpings were gigantic and they ate till they were very drowsy. Of course, the breeze, the fantastic herb (thanks to the great Babasaur) and beer had something to do with that.

And then it was time to go back.

The journey back was interesting, considering one of the tinier members of the rag tag bunch of intrepid travellers lost her communication device. Turned out, a deranged lady took it and refused to give it back. The lady was obviously a very evil person. The phone was chased back to Chirala, to no avail. In an hours' time, the sun started its slow descent across the sky. The bus back to Guntur was waiting. They reached Guntur at around seven, but there was bad news. The sleeper and reclining buses were overbooked. The next available option was the deluxe bus, which would leave after 10:30. Fair enough, that sounded luxurious, so they bit the bait. More cigarettes followed. Time passed. The humidity was unbearable. They ate dinner at a nearby restaurant, which served veg meals for 37 Rupees. The meal consisted of a small mountain of rice, buckets of sambar, steaming pappu, two kinds of vegetable curries, fries, curd, rasam, pachdi and pickle. The food was spicy. They drooled, sweated, cried and ate. Then they ate some more. It was time to leave, and they got up on the rickety bus back home.

Then the journey back began.

The travellers were by this time, understandably tired. As it were, the rickety bus lived true to its repute. The seats were stiff as boards and they could not be reclined. Some tried meditation, some tried sitting prostrate. Some might have turned to prayer. They jumped and bumped and got painful lumps as the bus sped along NH 9. Of course, sleep was out of the question. So they stayed awake and tried to pass away the warm night in the 'deluxe' bus. At stops, there were cigarettes for the smokers in the group. As for the non smokers, well, tough.

And that's the end of the story.


Buchki Scribbles said...

I like it... very entertaining :)

Sarit said...

I like :).
I wish I was there :(

So said...

as fun a read as the trip...sogosaur says write on ...

silhouette said...

wow ! thats so doable from hyd. Thanks and jotted the place!

Akash said...

The part about breaking away from city life, finding a small hotel or a guest house sort of stay, and playing memory under the shack so much reminds me of Aranyer Din Ratri.

mylucida said...

yeah well said :-)