October 25, 2006

Dharamsala trip (Chapter 2 - The studboys)

At ISBT, we found that there was no direct bus to Dharamsala due to Diwali. We would have to change buses. The best option was Pathankot. But one dingy agent with an open air office wanted us to tour Punjab. So he convinces us that he has our best interests in mind and tells us to go through Jallandhar. Ahem! we have no choice or as Subir would put it, our BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) was low. So we say WTF! How bad can it get! and trudged to the bus where we met the studboys.

Lets call them Laurel and Hardy Singh (LS & HS respectively). The driver, LS was a thin bearded sardar. Along with him was HS the conductor, a fat Sardar in three-quarters and sports shoes. If you heard them speak you would prolly think one (LS) was chanting prayers while the other (HS) was lamenting. HS's voice made him sound like the biggest loser in the world. He was almost crying at times. Little that we knew beneath the loser face and sad voice was a master strategist, logistics expert and a don at negotiation.

The vehicle used by the studboys. I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the studboys. The biggest loss of the trip!

We left ISBT towards Jalandhar at 10:30 odd. After some dozen stops at random petrol pumps where they keep on filling 10 litres of diesel (?) per stop, they realise that the police is following them in a jeep. At the last petrol pump HS gets into the police jeep and negotiates. The bus moves ahead of the jeep and reaches the border. Dunno which state we were crossing coz it was dark. The issue of negotiation was some tax which HS dint want to pay. It was irritating that we were stopping so frequently but I would not have complained only if i knew what was coming ahead.

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