It was one of the vettiest, meaning one of the laziest & most idle days in the summer holidays after the 12th std. Two of my cousins were staying with me in my one bedroom house, which was on the top of the two storied independent house that we were staying under rent. The house was so over ventilated and well lit that during the day, the ambient reflection from the red-sand-road that lay in font of my house provided a ultra-mega-power-punch lighting to my house. So glaring it was during summer that, forget facing the sun, it was difficult to even face the reflection from the veranda. And of course, staying on top meant facing the blazing direct heat too.
Well, in such a setting of summer where the roaming/shopping/eating out options all ran in low budgets, since I belonged to the pre college era, this whole experience happened. Since the other two guys had the habit of idling a bit more than me, I had to make a well drafted plan for a good outing that would prove to be overall a rich experience against the heat. So all options of going to places like theme parks etc., ran out quickly since they crossed the budget line. And since I had read somewhere (The Hindu of course) that Vandalur Zoo is Asia’s largest zoo and since it wasn’t that far off from the place I resided, I made the most convincing arguments for going ahead with the trip. So convincing were my own statements that in turn I started to visualize that the zoo even had safari trips to the range of that in Speilberg’s
So we started for it with “lots of cash”. Of course this in absolute terms meant that we had 200 bucks in cash for the trip. By today’s traveling and spending standard, I wouldn’t even think of doing such an idiotic thing. Because so great were my statistical measurements of planning for the expenditure for the whole trip, right from the cost of train and bus tickets to the upper limit on the amount that we would spend on food, that my self trained abilities on stingy spending could now get down to the accuracy of 5 - 10 bucks. And ten bucks was what finally mattered.
With the combination of train and a bus, we reached there by around afternoon. The entrance and the connecting “tunnel” to the inside were reminiscent of the thermocol models that were used in the old movies in the sets of a jungle scene. And further walk from the entrance to the ticket area, revealed that there was a conducted tour on a road train for which we had to pay extra and wait for about forty five minutes. Feeling so elite after battling through rounds of entrance exams, we didn’t want to choose the cheaper option of going by walk, especially now that we wanted to “chill off”. And so we waited… Little did we realize then that we had wasted all our money and time on the road trip?
And finally it did arive... the road train which started with all of us inside. A set of people started to follow the train to the places around inside. There was this other group of some farmer and his family which consisted of kids in various shapes and sizes, but all in “summer wear” which started walking. So goddamn slow was the road train that the farmer and co started to overtake us in several places. But of course, I ll not concentrate on them but rather move on with the appreciation of the zoo
So pointless was the zoo, so tortured and lifeless were the animals all around, so restless were we to move on to the next cage/confinement of animals in the rattling road train because the driver had this intelligent speech planned out to detail out all aspects of the creatures, so common were the look on these animals that I felt that even a cow inside a cage could have been part of the business for them, so exasperated were we because of the heat and so damn far the place was from the rest of the Chennai city civilization and so out of cash were we that I now learnt that in future I must give a “variable cost allowance factor” in my budget propositions.
Now the only thing that mattered was money and time. We had to get home so quickly within as least time as possible. Since we were at least intelligent enough to save a bit for the return journey, we bought off train tickets for the full length... and the miracle happened. Searching the hidden pockets after a long time can certainly prove to your advantage. We somehow managed to get two rupee coins from our pocket, and managed a packet of buttermilk each.
After successfully finishing the return train journey, these two idiots embarked on a further adventure: verifying Bernouli’s theorem. So how did they do that?? There is this fast train which comes on a track and they test whether by standing close enough to the train do they indeed get pushed near to it because of low pressure on the surface of the train. I am quite thankful for the fact that they were alive, leaving the people who saw this terrifying scene, cursing at them.
It was a 2 km back to my home from the station, and we were so damn hungry. And just with ten bucks we could have shared 4 samosas from a really good shop on the way. And ten bucks was what finally mattered. And to increase my woes, just mine and not the others, there was this eunuch on the road which was coming in the opposite direction facing us. I was scared of eunuchs because I already had some bad experience with them on train*. Of all people it gave to punch to my shoulder and went off, leaving the other two screaming with laughter that the whole street was watching me with my embarrassed face looking down and their faces lit up with stupid street punk laughter.
I was planning to write a travel blog to Vandalur Zoo, full of sarcasm making it sound like it s worth going there at least once in your lifetime. But let me not do that, for all such things be reserved for a later point of time when I get really pained in life. Folks, it’s a much better option to go to the children’s park in guindy than go to this god forsaken place which is located beyond all of city civilization.