Last week; I had to take the bus. All these memories flooded me and gradually ebbed away. I have quite forgotten the knack of pushing through the crowd and finding a seat or the smartness to stand farther away from the actual designated bus stop. When has the bus driver ever stopped the bus right in front of the bus stop? My sense in center of gravity seems to have deteriorated as I was finding it difficult to find balance with one foot or to jostle around and push everyone to find my way out.
I had written about the experiences much earlier and thought let me share it once again. Enjoy :)
Para-sailing? Bungee jumping? Rock climbing? Trekking? Skiing? River rafting? Para-gliding?
If these are what your idea of adventure is; which of course I am sure is expensive in terms of time and money, then read along to find a sport more adventurous than any of the above. You would be jealous if I say Ms Commuterix( New term coined for a female commuter - copyright held by Insignia) gets an adrenalin rush going on an adventure each day.
So hear it from the horse's mouth. This is what Ms Commuterix has to say...
I don't have any better word than "adventure" to describe the journey on the mass transport system - metropolitan bus service. They say a country's progress is determined by how efficient the mass transit system is. As such, all major cities in India boast of a good connectivity. People are being advised to take the public transport - the metro rail and bus to commute. They are called the most efficient and convenient way to travel, yeah it is......if taken with a pinch of salt, sugar and any other favorite spice of yours to give it the sweet but salty and a tangy experience!
It begins with the basic job of finding the right bus. Its not easy as they claim - Buses available at regular intervals and all those. You have to pray that the bus has not left yet; no - its not that you are late in arriving to the bus stop. Its just that most times, the bus is either very early or too late but never on time. Poor them, what would they do? With all these traffic, newly planned one-way and no-way rules which change frequently as our government; coupled with infrastructure development - flyovers, underpass, sky bridge and subways to ease traffic congestion. Hoping that the bus has not left already, one waits at the stop amidst loud jarring honking, traffic at peak hour when the two-wheels use the footpath/side-walks as substitute to regular roads so that they can zoom without delay; without any concern for the folks using the footpaths; while you keep walking to and fro as each bus stops to see if you can take the bus. Other disturbances like people rushing helter-skelter, chaotic, to reach their destination on time.
Even if you are on time for the bus, you might miss it for many other reasons. The bus stopped behind a couple of other buses, you didn't either notice it or by the time you noticed, the bus moved away. Sometimes, the bus does not have a proper name board - the destination mentioned is not legible. Or the bus stopped 300 metres away from the designated stop and by the time you run carrying your bags and stuff; as if you are practicing for Olympics, the driver takes off. I have always observed that such drivers get a wicked pleasure in seeing people run behind the bus and rushing in while breathing hard. Or sometimes simply the driver decides in all his authority NOT to stop at this particular stop. After all, its HIS bus!!
For people who regularly commute at a particular time like office-goers would choose to travel by same bus each day. It might be pretty easy for them if they share a good rapport with driver or conductor. A friendly chat each day with them would ensure that you don't miss the bus.
Alright, after undergoing any one of the above ordeal, I manage to hop onto a bus. There are more amusing experiences waiting in there. Push your way through only to find the men folks having occupied the entire bus, with maybe some space left for ladies to stick in. You find the seats reserved for women(4 seats on each side) has been occupied by ignorant men. So you reach them by straining you way jostling and pushing around and then ask them politely to vacate the seat. Its a nightmare. This is what one can hear - "Why? I cant". "Its not a Ladies seat". You show them the signboard and they ignore. Ask the conductor to help you, he either tells them to vacate for the sake of it which is ignored or he too walks away unheard. Few people indulge in wicked things like scraping out the notice that says "Ladies". They confront women who ask them to vacate, in fact bully them in such a way that it makes the lady who is asking for her right to actually think if she has done anything wrong.
I came across an amusing incident when a guy who didn't know the local language was asked to vacate the ladies seat. The bus co-incidentally had the signboard in local language but there was a pictorial representation with it. He picked up a fight when asked to vacate and was stubborn to say it was not a Ladies seat.
Men are very inconsiderate yeah!. but the worst offenders are the women.No pity to offer a seat if someone is sick, lame, old or pregnant. They continue to sit like a lifeless rock. So having discovered that asking to vacate wont make any difference but would create a uncomfortable scene, I generally stick to the safe-zone and remain standing.
Image from www.karbonjournal.org/.../
One can come across several interesting characters while on the bus. A passenger who stands by the foot board and dons the role of a conductor and throws instructions to people on the bus as if he is the appointed one. There's the guy who has opted to switch on the speaker of his cellphone while hearing to music. Radio-Jockey or is it Phone Jockey? Community service. So everyone has no other choice but to listen to his choice of music. And then the teenage college girls who laugh out loud to any silly jokes to grab attention. The girl in salwar who has lost track of where she is and doesn't mind whispering sweet-nothings to her boyfriend on phone while middle-aged women stare at her in horror and then continue with their gossips. Elderly gentlemen who complain how world has changed for bad and how youngsters lack discipline and respect.
With all these, the bus driver swearing at the car driver who overtook him and the conductor hastily pushes past you and way through the crowded bus to have a friendly chat with his female commuters while ignoring the constant plead of a commuter to return the remaining money that he is supposed to give back. As I witness this silently oblivious to the conversation around me, yeah with my iPod on volume loud enough to mute things around me, the driver realizes that he is approaching a speed breaker or just late enough to avoid a pothole, one finds thrown off balance.
Image at malibucola.ricjo.org/
And lo! hands emerge from nowhere to help you stand balanced only to linger around trying to steady you for longer than required. When you want to turn around and say "Thank you, I am fine.", you realize there's no point actually trying to confront as he would have disappeared among the crowd of men. Just as you thought its going to be fine, a fight is picked up by a lady who feels a guy behind her is standing too close and the guy confronting her to "buy a car and commute by car" if she is finding it tough to commute in a crowded bus.
I can make myself deaf; but how can I stop my nose from picking up the smells? A girl chewing mint gum or the man behind who smells as if he has bundled himself with 100s of cigarettes. Also found are men who are yet to get out of their hangover and paan chewing ladies or the ones who could never be caught - who silently fart.
If you are lucky that day, you do manage to get a place to sit only to be vacated when a lady with a kid hops on at the next stop. Even if you retain the seat, just pray that your rest of the journey is uneventful. Probably it might turn out to be bad one if in case a guy chooses to sit beside you and has tough time to keep his hands idle!!
Image from www.karbonjournal.org/.../
It requires lots of patience to remain calm while giving a go-by to the wailing child or an old man looking for a seat - ladies seat always; thereby, whatever remaining seats that is spared after being hijacked by guys is also gone.
And after hanging on for your life and your mood, with all these ruckus; you'll find yourself jubilant and satisfied to have finished this adventure!!!
Image at www.ballina.nsw.gov.au/.