This was meant to be a one-post story but the journey to Gokarna had so much fun element in it, it deserves a full chapter in itself.
When a friend posted a Gokarna travel plan on an internet group of offline friends, she probably never knew what would be the outcome. May be 4 to 6 people is what she would have had in mind. But responses started pouring in and numbers kept growing. Two weeks of discussions and we had a group of more than 20 people!
Such a large group naturally called for elaborate planning and discussion threads ran into more than 100 posts. At the end of brainstorming, we decided to travel easy, take an overnight bus to Mangalore on Friday night and then experience a journey on Konkan Railway northwards to reach Gokarna.
Konkan Railway – train passes through a tunnel
9PM is when the bus was expected to leave for Mangalore, and we met at KSRTC bus stand a little before that. Though most people knew each other, not everyone knew everyone and a round of introductions followed. It looked like no one seemed to be keen to move out, as we were still at the platform at 9PM. Finally when we all were in the bus, we had to counter a grumbling conductor who was unhappy about us turning up late. It seems they even made an announcements for us but obviously there is very slim chance of anyone actually listening to those blaring and sonorous loudspeakers in the noisy crowded platform. As more than half the ticket holders in the bus had’t turned up, they naturally felt compelled to wait.
Once we were in the bus, it turned out to be a big job just to ensure that everyone who is supposed to be on the bus is present. Being an unorganized leaderless and yet a large group, we did not even have a list of names of people, and there was no way to tell if someone had not turned up. After matching the number of tickets in hand with the people, we were on our way to Mangalore, after a delay of may be fifteen minutes.
We had a situation in hand to address for the next morning. Out train was to leave Mangalore next morning at 6.50AM. We had booked a bus that was leaving early to ensure that we reach on time. But the road from Bangalore to Mangalore would easily qualify for one of the worst roads in the country. The driver said we would make it to Mangalore only around 7AM. We begged him to go faster.
We were noisy enough in the bus that probably no one got to sleep for most of the journey. As if that was not enough, we had a birthday girl and a ‘Happy Birthday to You..” erupted in the bus at midnigh! The end of the song was succeeded by angry remarks from the conductor – “Don’t you see there are other people in the bus? Do you think this is your private vehicle? You should know to let them sleep..”
Rest of the journey was uneventful but the pothole ridden ride ensured that no one managed to catch a shut eye. The bus moved slowly along the bad roads but we were still on track to make it on time for the train. But the larger forces governing the universe have always ensured that Murphy’s Law kicks in at the right place at the right moment! 30km short of Mangalore, a tyre burst came in as the first obstacle and forced us to contemplate on a Plan B. The driver insisted to continue driving but at a much slower pace now and we would never make it on time at that speed. The kind and helpful conductor made a few calls and arranged for a backup bus to come and take us, but it would still mean loosing some time waiting for the bus. In the meanwhile we made plans to get down at Kankanady – the station before Managalore, which would give us another 10 minutes before boarding the train.
Instead of waiting for the backup bus, we flagged the first bus that came on our way and started moving. Murphy’s law was still working on us, and as we reached near Kankanady, heavens opened up and it started pouring madly. We got down from the bus and ran the half a kilometer distance to the station in rain, but we were already 5 minutes late. As if the rains were only meant to play with us, it stopped raining as soon as we all reached the station!
As we entered the station, there was a train arriving and leaving just then from the next platform. We ran that way only to realize that it was not our train. There was a moment to relax after some anxious queries to check if our train had already left, and which platform is it expected to arrive it.
After all that drama and the moments of excitement, we found ourselves waiting at the station for the train that arrived an hour late!