An Adventurous Journey: Indore to Ambajogai

by | Feb 16, 2022

Moving out of the house at a young age, I was privileged to travel to some parts of Northern India – mostly for education. I’ve always looked forward to travel to new locations and meet new people. Such experiences have transformed my perceptions and viewpoints about people around the world. Until recently, I used to think that I was independent and can travel alone without any fear. How wrong I was!

Yes, I did it alone but always in an organized and planned set-up. My tickets were pre-booked by my brother. The accommodation was decided by him too, always Double checked and verified. For several years, I never had to worry about the arrangements. I considered myself independent when it came to travel but never really planned my own itinerary. Why!

Because someone else always did it for me, and so, I never had to. The over-dependence had handicapped me so much that I failed to even recognize it.

During one of the India Fellow virtual learning sessions, I came across a new term called “Self-efficacy”. To quote Albert Bandura, “Self-efficacy is one’s belief in their capabilities to exercise control over their own functioning and over events that affect lives”. An example of strong self-efficacy could be displayed by someone who has been asked to do an activity that they have never done before, but have a belief in themselves that they can learn about it and perform well. The concept made me ponder. It dawned on me that I have often overcome the challenges in life and accomplished certain goals because of my high self-efficacy as one of the factors contributing to it.

Soon after the session, I got a chance to assess my self-efficacy. Diwali was approaching, and most of my co-workers decided to spend the vacation with their families. I planned to travel to Indore to meet my co-fellows. My parents have always feared traveling during festive seasons. Telling them about my plan would have freaked them out. Hence, I decided to keep it a secret from them. With the secrecy came the responsibility of planning my own itinerary.

It takes 16 hours to reach Indore from Ambajogai, where I am currently living and working. The most feasible way to travel is to go by road. I booked two bus tickets – one, a government bus ticket from Ambajogai to Aurangabad and then a private bus ticket from Aurangabad to Indore. I had heard too many horror stories of private buses, and since no one back home knew that I’m traveling, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that I was scared. The overnight journey passed in checking the distance left on google maps and in hope to reach safe. So, I did!

It felt like an accomplishment, similar to that of a child scoring the highest marks in their class without even preparing for the test. This journey changed something in me. It gave me an assurance that I can plan to be on my own, without depending on anyone else. 

After spending a few days in Indore, I boarded a government bus back to Aurangabad. There weren’t many passengers on it. Through the window of my seat, I was observing the rush at the station. As I was about to get lost in daydreaming, a notification beeped on my phone. The text message said, “A bus strike has happened in Maharashtra and the government buses will not be functioning until further notice.” Without wasting any minute, I checked for private buses on the route. No tickets were available. The only option left was to book a private cab, which would have cost me a fortune.

I didn’t have any clue as to what should I do next. Earlier, in the same situation, I would have freaked out. But this time, I didn’t. The prior travel had boosted my self-confidence to an extent that my self-efficacy increased by two folds. I knew I will figure it out. How? At the moment, I didn’t know. But I had a belief in myself that somehow, I will manage it. I slept peacefully with the thought “Dekh lenge jo hoga”. 

The bus arrived at Aurangabad at 6 am sharp. It was dark and chilly. A bunch of auto drivers surrounded me even before I could step down from the bus. I did a quick scan and spotted a decent one from among them, to drop me at the private bus stand.

The chaos was enough to tell me that it is going to be a long day. People were standing in queues, madly running after the bus conductor to know the status. But they were returning with disappointed faces. I was scared about getting yelled at, from the conductor. So, I decided not to pester him with my questions and moved to the inquiry section. “Jo bhi bus Beed (the district under which Ambajogai is a block) ke liye mil rha hai usme baith jao! Agla koi bus nahi ayega”. A man sitting at the inquiry section announced.

Being new in the region, I didn’t know how far was Ambajogai from the Beed city centre. Google maps showed the distance to be about 3 hours. I only had Rs. 500 in cash. The dilemma was whether to take the bus to Beed or wait at the station. Realizing that there is no point in waiting, I followed the crowd and boarded the bus.

It was jam-packed. I was lucky enough to find a seat, that too a window seat. People occupied the floor and even sat near the entrance of the bus. Usually, I always travel with a plan and multiple backup plans. This experience was different, and at the same time, thrilling. I was finding “maza” in this uncertainty. Since the inquiry desk was of no help, I thought of gathering some information from co-passengers. Sadly, they couldn’t help me either.

With no other option, I trusted my gut feeling of “Jo hoga, dekha jayega” and slept off. The loud and shrill voice of the conductor shouting “Beed Bypass” woke me up. Confused, I checked with another passenger if I heard it right. Yes, it was the Bypass, not the bus stand.

As far as I could see, I couldn’t locate a single human being outside. The bus dropped me in the middle of the highway. To be honest, this time, I was really scared. With only 250 bucks left in my hand after paying for the ticket, and not knowing how far the bus stand is, I was wondering how I would reach back to Ambajogai.

A voice in my head said, “You are lost”. But my self-efficacy didn’t leave my side.

After searching here and there for a few minutes, I spotted a pan shop. Before I could strike a conversation with the shopkeeper, he exclaimed, “Koi bus nahi jayega. Walk for a kilometer, you might find an auto-rickshaw to drop you at the bus stand, but no buses are running.

Disappointed, as I was about to leave, I saw the sticker of “Google Pay” stuck on the teal colour wooden window of the shop. In an instant, I got an idea and requested the guy to give me Rs. 1000 in cash in return of the same amount I’d send him on Google Pay. Maharashtra has been always kind to me this way. Without even thinking twice, he agreed. After getting the cash, my confidence increased a bit. I took his advice and walked for a few steps in search of an auto-rickshaw.

Luck was surely on my side that day. An auto stopped in front of me. By this time, I had analyzed the situation as serious and knew that I am not going to find a bus. I was right. As soon as I reached the bus stand, I was told to return. The angry group of bus conductors surrounded the entrance of the station as if they were guarding the queen. In the absence of any other way out, I started asking for help from every other person.

Seeing me struggle, a man himself came towards me and pointed at the taxi cruisers standing on the chauraha. Humanity has never failed to amaze me. He said, Those cruisers will drop you at Ambajogai, they charge a little extra but you can try bargaining.” I ran towards them and asked, “How much for Ambajogai?” One guy responded, 300 Rs! I won’t take a penny less than this

Looking at the people negotiating profusely with the driver, I felt privileged and hopped in, without wasting a second. The cruiser was overcrowded. With the capacity of only ten people, it was overloaded with fifteen. But I was thankful to at least find a conveyance. Once he saw that there was no space left to accommodate even a fly, he drove like a speeding bullet. The concept of limit was non-existent in his dictionary. Now, I was scared for my life.

At the same time, I began to relax knowing that the hustle-bustle has ended and soon I’ll reach my destination. Running from one conveyance to another since morning, I was hungry and exhausted. The minute I thought of taking a nap, he stopped the vehicle on a desolate road. He asked me to step out and said exactly those four words that I was dreading- “Gadi aagey nahi jayegi”.

My head began exploding with anger. I felt cheated. Combined with hunger, my anger escalated and we got into a heated argument. The spectators silently kept watching us like a TV drama and didn’t take a step to resolve the matter. I realized that it is a waste of time. So, I let him go and trusted my gut feeling. “You have come this far. You will manage this too.”- I told to calm myself.

The sun was right above my head with the temperature rising at its peak. The dusty winds made it even more miserable. I began hunting for an auto rickshaw again and call it luck, I found it within a few minutes. In another half an hour, I reached my destination and my journey finally came to an end.

This adventurous traveling experience gave me a sense of freedom. It liberated me from the boundaries I had created for myself. Throughout the journey, I had the option to call my mentor and other colleagues at MANAVLOK and I’m sure he would have made some arrangements for me. But I wanted to do it myself. I had faith to do it myself.

Growing up and reading news headlines every day about how unsafe the world is becoming for women, I feared traveling alone to unknown places. During the entire journey, I felt that I might get lost or kidnapped, or robbed. Not understanding the Marathi language was an added disadvantage. Being dependent for years on my safety net, I had forgotten to take even the slightest of risks.

The journey from Indore to Ambajogai was full of ups and downs, where I didn’t know what might happen in the next moment. Even though there were setbacks, I was able to overcome them because of my high self-efficacy. After this experience, I could notice a drastic change in me. I am more confident, and no longer dependent on my brother for my tickets or accommodation. Now, I don’t have apprehensions in my mind about traveling to unknown places. This fellowship is teaching me to get out of my comfort zone and not fall back on the safety net. My learning from this journey is that there’s always a way. We need enough courage to go for it and find it.

Half Half None

Half Half None

The following blog has been co-written by co-fellows Daraab Saleem Abbasi and...

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6 Comments

  1. Pranali Chikte

    Great experience 👌👍🏿
    आपका अनुभव पढके मुझे याद आया,
    मै जब आपसे मानवलोक में मिली…🚴🏻‍♀️ तब मुझे आपकी बाते और संयम अच्छा लगा, सही कहे तो आप को मराठी बिलकुल नहीं समजती थी और फिर भी आप बहुत शांती सें हर किसीको सुनेने का और समझने का प्रयास करती थी…
    और इस संयमीत और शांतीपुर्ण सफर ने आप को और भी बहुत सिखाया होगा… 🤝😊

    आगे की यात्रा को शुभकामनाये… 🌳

    Pranali Chikte ✍️

    Reply
    • Sweksha Gupta

      Thank you so much Pranali.

      अच्छा लगा यह जान के कि आपको मेरा ब्लॉग पसंद आया। अब मराठी सच में थोड़ी समझ आती है। 😁😁 प्रयास अभी भी चालू है। आशा करती हूं कि आगे भी इसी तरह मेरे अनुभवों को आप पढ़ती रहेंगें। ☺️

      बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद।

      Reply
  2. Pranali Chikte

    Great experience 👌👍🏿
    आपका अनुभव पढके मुझे याद आया,
    मै जब आपसे मानवलोक में मिली…🚴🏻‍♀️ तब मुझे आपकी बाते और संयम अच्छा लगा, सही कहे तो आप को मराठी बिलकुल नहीं समजती थी और फिर भी आप बहुत शांती सें हर किसीको सुनेने का और समझने का प्रयास करती थी…
    और इस संयमीत और शांतीपुर्ण सफर ने आप को और भी बहुत सिखाया होगा… 🤝😊

    आगे की यात्रा को शुभकामनाये… 🌳

    Pranali Chikte ✍️

    Reply
    • Sweksha Gupta

      Thank you so much Pranali.

      अच्छा लगा यह जान के कि आपको मेरा ब्लॉग पसंद आया। अब मराठी सच में थोड़ी समझ आती है। 😁😁 प्रयास अभी भी चालू है। आशा करती हूं कि आगे भी इसी तरह मेरे अनुभवों को आप पढ़ती रहेंगें। ☺️

      बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद।

      Reply
  3. Bhushan Vetal

    “You always find a way to get it done – and done well!” “It’s really admirable how you always see projects through from conception to completion.”.

    “Thank you for always speaking up in team meetings and providing a unique perspective.”
    “Your efforts at strengthening Manavlok’s culture have not gone unnoticed.”

    All The Best!

    Reply
  4. Bhushan Vetal

    “You always find a way to get it done – and done well!” “It’s really admirable how you always see projects through from conception to completion.”.

    “Thank you for always speaking up in team meetings and providing a unique perspective.”
    “Your efforts at strengthening Manavlok’s culture have not gone unnoticed.”

    All The Best!

    Reply

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