Previous Episode: Earning My First Penny
Idli Podi was located in Saidapet, about a twenty-minute car ride from where I was staying in Adyar. Here came my biggest obstacle: transportation. I wasn’t rich enough to even think about traveling by taxi and the cost of taking an auto rickshaw to and from work was almost equal to my daily wage. Starting at 5 rupees, or 7 cents a trip, riding the public transport bus was the cheapest and only option I had. Initially, however, I was very scared to take it. How did it work? How would I know which route number to take? How would I know where to get off?! If you want to ride the bus in India you need to know how to hang on to a monkey bar, considering the large crowds will push you to the edge of the door and your only option to hold on is to the metal frame of the bus. Thankfully I asked for help from some strangers and I somehow made it back to my house alive. My shift at Idli Podi started at 11 am and ended at around 9:30 pm with an hour and a half break in between. The third day of taking the bus, I got on around 10:30 pm after doing overtime, exhausted from toiling away that busy Saturday just wanting to get home. My eyes slowly drooped and then suddenly shot open as the bus blared its horn. Looking around I did not recognize the usual landmarks that I normally passed. Thinking that I had just not reached those areas yet, I silently sat and waited. And I waited and waited realizing that I was nowhere near where I should be. Suddenly the bus conductor yelled, “Last stop! Everybody get off!” and that was when I truly panicked. I nervously stepped down and frantically searched around for any clue to where I was and when I saw the name of the bus depot my heart dropped. I was in Anna Nagar on the opposite side of the city! This was where buses would be parked for the night, and I desperately asked the bus driver, who was leaving, if there was any way for me to get home. He informed me that the next bus would only arrive at 5 am and told me to take a taxi and kept walking leaving me in the dark of the night with nobody around me. The problem was I had no money, so the option of taking a taxi was not viable. My surroundings were pitch black and my heart was beating uncontrollably so I sat down on a rock wanting to cry and escape from this nightmare. I thought to myself that there was no point in crying and I knew I had to take care of this situation. I started to think about any possible options but my brain couldn’t come up with any other than having to wait for 6 hours on the street. A few minutes passed by and lying on a rock on the side of the road wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. My only company were my friends, also known as the mosquitoes and the stray dogs, who kept me up for the rest of the night. My emotions started to change from being frightened to realizing that this wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. It was a breezy night and I could see the moon shining with no other disturbance around me. The next day I recounted my adventures of the previous night and I felt I had acquired a newfound confidence that I could go anywhere in the city, at any time.