An India Adventure
By Anusha Jaishankar
Semiconductor Engineer, Explorer, Bangalore
Foreword by Venkat
The dualities in life such as good & bad, narrow & broad, positive & negative etc. in general mean opposites with clear demarcation both in experience and interpretation. But there is one duality of the known vs. unknown which offers a range of experiences depending on one’s will to explore and the unexpected responses received. For those who love to explore or try new things, venturing into the unknown can be exhilarating and bring some amazing experiences. One such beautiful one is recounted in this story by Anusha in her simple and engaging style.
Enjoy the turn of events and the lovely family experience with Anusha as a US-returned Indian!
Anusha is an engineer and explorer who lives for music, reading, writing and travel. After a fulfilling career in semiconductor engineering and founding a community program called Positive Strokes, she now enjoys learning as well as teaching music and shlokas.
An India Adventure
After spending more than a decade and a half in the US, my husband and I decided we’d do what we had always intended to do at some point – return to India. Of course, we had a lot of mixed feelings about leaving our friends and a place that we had come to love and put down roots in. We were conscious that we were now not just the two of us anymore either. We were moving two little ones to a place they had never spent more than three weeks in, at a time. We recently celebrated a milestone ten years in India and I think back to the many adventures that keep us here! Here’s one from many years ago.
My second grader was all dressed for a costume competition in her school. She had on a caterpillar costume that magically changed her into a butterfly when she spread her arms out. It was a sturdy little homemade costume, but I still thought that it would get bent out of shape if she took her usual mode of transportation to school – the school bus. So, I decided to drop her and her brother at school by car that day.
I packed both the kids into the car and off we went. The last stretch of road before getting to school, roughly 5 km or so, passed through a sleepy village and the road was riddled with potholes. As luck would have it, the car tyre struck one of the potholes and deflated instantly. I realized this and drove the car over to the side of the road.
It was about 7:45 am, there were just 15 minutes to school start time. We were cutting it close. I figured that my immediate task was to get the kids to school. I sorted through my options in a hurry – the school was far enough away that I couldn’t expect to walk it, especially with two young ones in tow. Eight years ago, taxi rentals were not as ubiquitous as they came to be in the years that followed. I had to find another way!
We got out of the car, locked it and walked up to one of the sleepy villagers sitting on a bench by the side of the road. I asked if there was any chance of getting an auto-rickshaw there. He waved his hand dismissively, looking curiously at my costumed little girl and her brother (who knew that an adventure was brewing). He said that there would be no autos on that road, but there would be local buses coming and the bus stop was just a few steps ahead of where we found ourselves.
Sure enough, within a few minutes, a local bus appeared. As you might imagine, the bus was brimming over with people packed together, conductor hanging out the door calling out the next few bus stops’ names. Looking at my son in school uniform, he also included the name of their school in the list of stops the bus would make.
Now, at this point, I have to tell you, that the school bus (the one that I didn’t let them board that morning) is actually a nice air-conditioned bus taking the kids point to point, from home to school. It would have been a comfortable trip, costume notwithstanding. But here I was, trying to do better than that and ending up having to push my kids into an overcrowded local bus.
“Ok kids”, I said, with all the enthusiasm I could muster. “Let’s get in!”
The wonder then, was that the people on the bus made way for us to enter and stand comfortably inside, giving us room so we floated lightly without getting submerged in that ocean of passengers. What a spectacle we must’ve been when we were dropped off right outside the school gates and left in a cloud of dust while the bus lurched ahead and went on its way.
Oh yes, my little girl won first place for her performance in the costume competition that day. My boy, of course, enjoyed the adventure and had a story to tell his friends. I got help from the school’s transportation department and got a ride in a school bus to where the car was parked. The school bus helper changed the flat tyre and put on a stepney. I could then drive the car over to a mechanic’s shop and have the flat tyre fixed.
That nonchalance with which everyone I approached helped me, without ever going overboard is the essence of India. This is one of the many colorful reasons we love it here.
By Anusha Jaishankar