My Big Foot and Big Step episode went just as I had expected it to. I broke the news of my solo trip to my parents. Mum searched my face for possible guilt of lying; she seemed to find none, so she was okay. Dad arched his eyebrows so high, I thought they might join the top of his almost-bald head. Mildly heated arguments and some grunting from my father later, I retired to my bedroom. Flushed with my success, I had a vindictive spark in my eyes and a Grinch-like smile on my lips.
The day of my departure finally arrived, and I looked like a dreary zombie boarding the bus at 7AM. A long bus ride, as all of us know, makes most people throw-up left, right, and centre. But no, not me. I have a heart of gold, a tummy of steel, and a mind of brass. All my life, neither bus, nor car, nor even ghat-sections could make me retch, no matter how curvy or bumpy or fast a ride got. I’m the queen of travels. Or so I thought until this one solo trip I took to Madikeri, by bus…
For the first half an hour, I tossed and turned in my seat, unable to sleep and unable to stay awake. I was stuck in a dreary limbo of sorts. In the next half an hour, I wondered if the weird feeling in my chest was the reason for my state of limbo. And just as that thought hit me, my eyes snapped wide open, my back straightened up, my hands flew to my mouth as my tongue forced itself out. My teary eyes searched for the conductor, to motion to him for the “black cover” he was supposed to distribute, but my buttocks seemed glued to the chair!
The lady beside me asked gently, “Do you need a cover?” and I simply nodded. She got up and went to the front of the bus to ask the conductor for covers, and came back and handed one to me. I put my mouth inside it, but I didn’t retch. I burped. Burped loud enough for the whole silent bus to hear. Luckily, the two men on the other side seemed fast asleep, and the rest of the bus couldn’t see my face, but for this sweet, helpful lady. But embarrassment seemed to have abandoned me, and I almost smiled with relief, happy that I didn’t have to keep a cover full of puke in front of me.
And rather with too much bravado for someone who had almost thrown up, and just burped loudly, I extended my hand and introduced myself to the lady next to me. The cordial, and really sweet person that she was, Shalini didn’t so much as recoil from my hand of friendship. There are some things that just can’t help but foster friendships. And in my case, burping loudly, apparently, was one such thing.