Being a budget traveler and also being frugal, I seem to always be choosing budget over comfort. For an extra $2 I could have had my own sleeper, but on a 12 hour journey, I decided to take a single seat.
At first, being an American princess(just kidding) and making friends with the guys on the bus, I switched over to the sleeper compartment. Driving through slums and slums and more slums, I could not believe how many actual slums occupied Mumbai. We stopped near one and I jumped off quickly to use the bathroom-thinking we would be moving shortly. I said, “Hi” to a local Indian Santa and then jumped back on the bus.
In the sun, I just saw how dusty the sleeper seat was and started to do my Priscilla frown. Many of you reading have seen this frown at least once or possibly a dozen times in your lifetime. The started patting the seats and watching the dust come out and disperse into the air. The nice family on the bus was looking at me like I was a spoiled brat tourist, which is what I was acting like.
After sitting in my dirty sleeper, I became antsy waiting for the bus to leave. The smell from outside was practically unbearable. There was no AC on the bus leaving me with no choice, but to breathe in the stinky hott air. Minutes passed which turned into an hour and when I looked at my watch again-it had been 2.5 hours. 2.5 hours in the hott sun with the stinky air sitting near the bathroom.
When the bus finally came to start I shouted, “Thank you God.” I was thankful and figured it was just a stop to pick up more passengers and we would be on our merry way. Unfortunately, my wishful thinking was out of place for that bus. We ended up making stops every 10 minutes. The bus broke down at one point and the few drivers were working on fixing it and the worst part was getting MOVED.
I just took a nice nap to escape the dust and the many stops when a knock on my sleeper door comes along. Two guys are pointing in my seat and ask me to move, which means Priscilla moves back to the single seat. I was content with this single seat until the people started piling on the bus. The more we stopped, the more people came on the bus, and not just people-men. They crowded the aisles practically sitting on top of one another . It was 2 am and I closed my eyes to wake up and see a guy staring at me. Every time I closed my eyes and reopened them, there he was just staring with a perverted look in his eyes. The man behind him decided it was time for a party and had been blasting his phone. (Indian people love to blast music, which is fine I love the music, but not at 3am on sleeper bus!) I turn around and give him signals to turn down the music. I am unable to communicate with him as he just sits with the music on. I take my water bottle up into the air and fake throwing it at him. He gets the message and turns off the music, but it just does not help. The bus keeps stopping and it is so bumpy that my head keeps hitting the window.
This moment leads me to go into my panic mode, which occurred on my first bus ride in Tamil Nadu with the bus night safari incident. I feel like I am in a movie where I am stuck in time. I keep looking at my watch and the minutes are slowly passing by. I think to myself, “Why do I always have to make things an adventure?” I could have just paid $2 more and been in a sleeper, but I chose a seat on a 19 hour bus ride. I might just be crazy after all. Finally, the bus arrives and I quickly and rudely push myself through the aisles and get my backpack. My love for the bus continues, but this goes down as the horrible bus ride. Perhaps it is payback for having such positive bus experiences. Woosh!