My first real stop in UK was the city of Leeds where I was presenting a paper at a conference. It was a hectic trip. I landed at Heathrow on a Friday morning and then took a National Express bus to the Victoria Bus Terminus. From there, I took a Megabus to Leeds. Megabuses are definitely low cost but they also have a very small seat. The journey was supposed to be of 4 hours but due to the heavy Friday traffic it took 6 hours to reach Leeds. The next day morning I had a paper to present followed by a visit to Saltaire. Later in the evening was the conference dinner at the Royal Armouries.
So, it became past 11 at night when I came back to my hotel after the day’s program on the Saturday. And then I had to take a Megabus to London at 6.15 the next morning. The hotel phone gave an option of stetting the alarm on my own but I could not figure it out. So, I asked the good people at the front desk to give me a wakeup call at 5.00 in the morning. And then after doing the packing, I collapsed to sleep.
I woke up with a start at 5.00 without any wakeup call. The wakeup call never arrived. By 5.45 I checked out and walked for 3 minutes to the bus stop. Being Sunday morning the roads were mostly empty. Only a place by the name of Blue Leopard had some people mingling about it. I could not figure out what it was. People came out of it for a smoke, some kind of employees hanged at the door. Another surprise was that there was activity at this place at the ungodly hour of 6.00 am.
By 6.10 there was still no sign of a bus and I was wondering what is it that I am doing wrong? Is this not the correct bus stop or the timings have changed or what? By 6.20 I was getting desperate. So, I decided to ask the people at the door of the Blue Leopard if they had any clue about the bus.
A young lad told me I was at the correct bus stop and then asked me what time my bus was. I told him it was at 6.15. Then he pointed out to a town clock and said, “But we changed the clock, look it is only 5.20 in the morning. We put it back by an hour this night!” I had of course read about changing of clocks but as nothing like this happens in India, I could never figure out what this meant! Now that I have experienced it, I am not going to forget it in a hurry.
I finally understood why the wakeup call never came. It must have come through an hour later. Also, it was a cold and windy morning and I did not enjoy the prospect of spending an hour at the freezing bus stop. Luckily the train station was just next door and it was covered. So, I went in and waited for an hour there. And of course later when it became 6.10 am again, the bus promptly came. This time it also took the appointed 4 hours to reach London.