The inter-state bus stand in Bangalore, the Kempegowda bus stand, was in the middle of a large construction project. The bus platforms were being renovated, and with some of the bus stand consumed by the up-coming metro station, it was not exactly a restful place. It was after some difficulty that I found the platform from which buses to Hyderabad departed. For it was in Hyderabad where my once flat-mate from Delhi now stayed. It was Venu's place that I now made for. And it was the remembrance all things past that bade me to board that bus.
A bus though, was missing. It was on a drizzly Thursday afternoon that I arrived at the bus stand only to discover that the KSRTC bus to Hyderabad had departed a few hours before and the next one wasn't until that night. But, I also discovered that APSRTC buses might be available. Though when they would be was hard to tell. With that in mind, I waited at the departure gate for any passing APSRTC bus headed in the direction of Hyderabad. A few hours later, after much asking around, I finally found a bus with an available seat going to Hyderabad. I finally reached Hyderabad after an event-less 12 hour journey.
It was a chilly five in the morning, when Venu came to the bus stand in Hyderabad to pick me up. And it was on his shiny new Bullet, which, I want I want I want. And a speedy 30 minutes later we arrive at his apartment near Hi-Tech City. When we enter the house, Venu proceeds to present a crate of beer. Twenty four shiny bottles of chilled beer which we start drinking at six in the morning. By about nine, we, pleasantly drunk, head to the city for a breakfast of roti, kheema and kichchidi. This was a wonderful beginning. Better than any I could have hoped for, for the month that lay ahead.
A fine two days pass amid much drinking, biryani eating, and merry making. It was time to think about where I would head next. Orissa sounded nice. I had never been there and this looked like a brilliant opportunity to fix that. After looking up trains from Hyderabad to Bhubaneshwar, I decide to book a 3AC berth in Tatkal quota on one of the trains. After a heart stopping moment when the IRCTC website failed to respond after the money was transferred, I got my ticket. The booking status read "Waitlist 8", which I was very sure would clear by the next day.
The next day, we were invited by Venu's parents for lunch at his place. The train wasn't till 4pm, which gave us plenty of time for a hearty lunch. We reach his place in the morning and after a light breakfast, proceed to kill time. It was then that I stumbled on a four page pull-out ad in the Deccan Chronicle. This ad touted the wonders of a new apartment complex being completed in Hyderabad. It also touted the wonder of high rise living and the supreme luxury on offer. It all looked very fancy and luxurious. Though I could never bring myself to live there. For the apartment was called "Aliens Space Station" and the builders were apparently the Aliens group. The bottom of the page with the ad featured various satisfied customers saying that they were "grateful for Aliens" for giving them the lifestyle they wanted. It all sounded very much like a cult.
Lunch was soon ready, and we were fed the best comfort food in the whole world. Fried stuff with chutney. After a very filling lunch, it was time to leave. The train would be departing in about an hour. We said our goodbyes and headed out. The train was to depart at four and hence the reservation charts wouldn't be prepared till 3:30. We reached the station at exactly this time. I exchanged goodbyes with Venu and headed towards where the charts were put up to see which my berth was. Orissa awaited.