Friday, February 14, 2014

the ragavan

it's strange, how dreams have a way of fulfilling themselves. since last February, when nickolai told me about her experience of ragasthan 2013, i decided I had to go. when the organisers told her she'll definitely be part of the organizing team in 2014, I jumped at the opportunity to help out in whatever way i could, if it meant that i could be there too. planning started early on, but with the number of unknown variables that cropped up, things looked increasingly dicey.

in december, before I went on my year end vacation, it was decided that a major software release that i had been working on for 5 months, would go live the very same weekend. my manager flatly declined my leave. I was sorely disappointed. but then in Jan, he agreed to give me a day off. February 14th, the first day of ragasthan.

by end jan, it was confirmed that the official bus (the ragavan) would only return on Monday night. there were deals on flights, but no direct flight from jaisalmer. so i brought a bus ticket to ahmedabad, from where I could catch a flight home early Monday morning. I didn't book my flight ticket, because the bus going to ragasthan on Thursday evening was probably canceled... and if there was no bus, i couldn't go. I actually told my friends i'm not going.

a few days later, i actually went to the site where I booked the return bus, and tried to cancel it. the ticket couldn't be canceled due to a "technical problem". after a couple of tries, i gave up.

later that same day, the bus on Thursday night again seemed likely. i checked the site, to see if my cancelation went through. it hadn't.

i decided to throw my hat over the fence. i purchased my flight ticket, again at a discount, thanks to a deal that was announced the very same day. and i was now officially bus coordinator and travelBUD representative for the Thursday bus.

also, the return ragavan departure was rescheduled to Sunday evening, so i could even take just a half day off on Monday and not have to take my bus/flight. but i didn't want to take any more chances, especially with the way my work was shaping up.

the next week, I checked my leave balance. i had enough to even take Thursday off. I took a half day instead.

the week of ragasthan, my software release was postponed. i decided to stick to my plan though.

the week went terribly though. I had a bout of general depression on Monday, was in office until 10pm on Tuesday, and i was working from home after office *while* calling up all the people on my bus to ensure they don't get late on Thursday.

Thursday, on the other hand, went in a caffeine fueled adrenaline rush. i did a day's work in 5 hours, raced home, packed, and reached an hour before the bus' scheduled departure. people had already reached before me, and i had the craziest hour of my life, dealing with 36 people who were on their way or looking for me or looking for the bus, people texting, me returning tens of missed calls, dealing with last minute cancelations, substitutions, and even a last minute addition.

at 7:24pm, 6 minutes before we were scheduled to leave, everyone but the last minute addition had arrived.

we finally left at 8pm. luckily for me, everyone was amicable and cooperative, and despite numerous delays, i think everyone had a fun ride.

we're still on the bus, almost 24 hours later, after numerous adventures, including getting lost multiple times around 5am, having a breakfast halt where 30 people queued outside two extremely shabby Indian toilets, and finally didn't eat, a lunch halt where we had to help in the kitchen of this newly opened dhaba which had just one cook-cum-waiter, but had absolutely clean toilets... and the lunch cost us 83 rupees a head.

but we have almost made it now. and this dream already feels like it's come true.

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