One thing about Dame Luck is that she either smiles at you…. Or gives you a wide berth! Somewhere in our transactions, she has given up on me… a small grouse on my part, for generally she has been rather indulgent with me. I suppose some people are born losers…like me, for example. I am a live endorsement for the adage “ Paapi pogum edamellaam paathaalam” ( Wherever the sinner goes, he meets up with hell”….?) Somehow the public transport system and I don’t vibe well with each other. The state transport buses and the Indian railways are in cahoots when it comes to me….Luckily for me, the Airline sector have not been roped in to form an unholy trio to try my patience, so my flights have been fairly decent. I am famous…rather infamous… in the family circles for delaying the State Transport Services. My ability to jinx a smooth flow of buses came to light when my kids joined a residential school in <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Mysore</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY> 14 years back. There is supposedly a bus to <ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Mysore</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY> every hour from <ST1:TIME hour="5" minute="0">5 a.m</ST1:TIME> from Shimoga via Bhadravathi. So the ideal means to go to <ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Mysore</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY> in those “Pre –car” days was to get into the earliest one. Just a small technical hitch. The day I travel, none of them appear…neither at <ST1:TIME hour="5" minute="0">5 am</ST1:TIME>, nor at any of the hourly intervals when they are supposed to…Finally, a dilapidated passenger bus, groaning under the combined weight of passengers and commercial load coughs and splutters to a stop in front of the impatient crowd near the bus stand. I am propelled inside by irate co-travellers…and with luck, I get half a seat to plant my generously endowed backside and hold on to dear life as it lurches on its way for the next 6 hours. If by chance, a ‘fast passenger’ or a ‘semi delux’ lets me inside, it is sure to have a breakdown half way through or face some road block. All the time, inside the bus, I sit holding my breath that no co-passenger puts two and two together, arrive at a 22 and declare to the irate public that I am the jinx! Talk about jinxes…! I can antagonize auto rickshaw drivers by my mere act of thumbing them for a ride. Paid, of course…but all drivers either go in the opposite direction… or simply don’t want to take me as a customer. In Sharjah, I have set a personal record as the individual who just can’t get a cab within half an hour of waiting for one! This, with private cab companies like City Taxi, Union Taxi, Cars Taxi and Advantage Taxi vying amongst themselves for business… Ultimately, if one cabbie condescends enough to be my patron, he tells me he is new and doesn’t know the route to my destination…so will I please guide him. Or invariably like the “Advantage” Taxi guys, they inform me that the shortest route to my destination is choked with traffic so, they’ll take another route ( a civil way of telling me they’re going to fleece me!) and I nod dumbly telling myself that at least after half an hour of waiting I am inside a cab! I spend more than half hour inside the cab too, thanks to the Sharjah traffic! Indian Railways is supposed to serve us Indians… but I am an exception. To reach Bangalore from Bhadravathi or vice versa, we have options like the night train (untimely hours…so I am not allowed to travel alone by that), the afternoon train which reaches the destination at an untimely hour ( so I am discouraged from using that…) a passenger that stops even if someone flags it down ( which leaves BDVT at 8 in the morning and reaches Bangalore around 2 noon and the ideal one - the Hubli- Bangalore Intercity which we have to board at a place called Birur, 2 hours from home. Till a couple of years back, there was no computerized booking facility so we just had to take a ticket and pay the reservation charges to the TTE. According to my FIL, the train always has plenty of seats, especially in the reserved compartments. In my experience…hard cheese! I find three- seaters occupied by some reclining or 'pretending – to – be- asleep' Hubliyites who simply refuse to move. I try telling them that in the day time, the three- seater is meant for three passengers to sit, but they freeze me with basilisk glares. Since my name features at the top of the list of inheritors of the earth (as the meekest human being created!) I struggle along and cross the vestibule to the next compartment to try my luck! I have also this habit of rendering this train late. Normally, the Intercity reaches the Birur station ten minutes after the connection passenger from Shimoga comes to a stop. But not when I am travelling. On my luckiest day, it will be 20 minutes late… I have waited up to an hour for the train which according to my in laws has never run late even once for them. In fact, the train even had an engine failure once I was onboard! Since last three years, a new train called Janshatabdi plies between <ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Bangalore</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY> and Hubli. It leaves <ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Bangalore</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY> at 6.30 and reaches Birur by 9.30. So it is the fastest means of reaching Bhadravathi, as Appa would send the car to pick me up at Birur from where it takes us an hour and a half to reach home. Last year, after flying from Sharjah, I chose a Tuesday to travel to BDVT, the only day of the week when Janshatabdi doesn’t run. Since it is holiday time, trains were running full. Our trying to book a ticket by Intercity was foiled. We would be waiting list number 60 and 61. We ( one of my twins was accompanying me) decided to take the passenger. So with a seven piece heavy baggage we boarded the train…. To find it jam- packed with all specimens of humanity. People would just not move or offer a seat. There were many three seaters with two young kids and a mother, but the moment I looked at them, they’d spread themselves to the very edge of the seat and refuse eye contact…( Like an idiot, I used to even let youngsters perch on my lap…!) Finally, my son and I stood near the door, propping a suitcase against the first seat and piling two bags over it. When we requested someone to let us stow our suitcase under their seat, as they didn’t have anything there, they simply refused. ‘We won’t be able to keep our feet in comfort!’ was what the fellow said. Another guy loudly remarked why people couldn’t travel light! At each station, we had to move our baggage and ourselves to have more people pile in… after an hour and a half, five stations and two dozen people later, I couldn’t stand ( no pun…mere fact!) it anymore. We rang up Appa, and asked him to send a vehicle to Birur to pick us up. No way, could I stand till <ST1:TIME hour="14" minute="0">2 pm</ST1:TIME> in that crowd… It was back breaking business. Appa called in 15 minutes to inform me that the car would be there at Birur around 11.30, and I wailed that I wanted it to fetch me from Arsikkare where I’d reach at 10.30. Luckily, the car hadn’t left, so it was arranged. The next two hours we spent watching general human behaviour or lack there of, in the train. There were fights, abusive language, laughter, more abusive language, vendors and non stop entries to and exit from toilets! And we were right in the middle of it all, so to speak. When the train stopped in Arsikere, and as we lugged all our luggage down, the same sullen strangers became all concern asking us why we were getting down since we had said we were going upto Bhadravathi. We said we’d cover the rest of the journey by road. My legs were wobbly after having stood in a moving train for 4.45 hours. The train had a 10 minute stop there and all those people who had refused to offer me a seat watched as my son put a comforting arm around me and made me sit. They continued to watch as my other twin rushed into the station and hugged me. They watched as the driver and my kids carried all the luggage and we walked out of the station. With luck, we’d reach BDVT before the train carrying them would! When I reached home, Appa and Amma were tickled by the fact that even after 10 years in Sharjah, I hadn’t managed to ward off my jinx! SIGH! Some people just can’t win!