"Bussing" around Bangalore - An Ode to the City Bus
Buses, buses and buses. Buses of all colors, sizes, qualities and make. Some jerky, some smooth as butter, some harsh as a devil. Some remind you of the global IT city that Bangalore is, and the others make your back and head burst out of irritated agony.
Symbols of Democracy
Travelling in buses can be really exciting, despite the incumbent discomfort of travelling long hours, sometimes standing all the while. I feel buses are the most successful exemplars of democracy. Buses are great levelers. They are no match to the comforts of A/C cars or private jets. Why?
Because, you get to feel the pulse of the city, its soul, while traveling in the city buses. The kind of people, their variety, their disposition, are all like a colorful display of fabric, a feast to the eyes and the heart.
I get to travel for around 3 hours in total everyday to and from work. And, man! I do not think I would have understood Bangalore like the way I have, if I would have cocooned myself in some smoke emitting private metallic portable containers (also known as cars). From little school children carrying huge bags on their backs, to old feeble bodies emitting depths of lifelong sorrow, the spectrum of my fellow passengers is wide enough. And not to mention, the brashness and the unbeatable rudeness of the conductors, who very authoritatively order you to get rid of your bag from you back, or else threatening to throw it out of the window!!
From young graduates in formals with earphones hooked into their tired ears, and eyes hooked into their smart phones, to stylish ladies with stilettos and flowing hair, enough to have you stymied into the mesmerizing world of glamour - my journey is a colorful rainbow :)
For around 4 weeks that I have spent around 60 hours (W-O-W!) in the ubiquitous City Bus, certain incidents have been etched in my memory. And I would love to share them with you.
Thanks to my lack of pre-planned itinerary, I spent most of my first day on the roads, roaming around, searching for an unknown destination a.k.a. my office (pointless, I know). Hence, it was very late when I reached back home. As I was narrating the entire story of the day to my mom on phone in the bus, an elderly couple sitting in front of me took me by surprise, when they revealed that the fierce woman judge at the Dharwad district civil court who had inspired awe in me when I was interning there, was indeed their relative!
They were also very kind enough to educate me about the various tariffs and kinds of city bus passes available on daily and monthly bases, together with the detailed addresses where I could get the pass done, with the procedure attached! It was as if my entire day, its inherent aspirations, hope and gratitude had been redeemed. Could I have asked for more?
During yet another long tiring day, when the bus was filled to the brim with similarly tired and lost souls, and when my mind was weaving multi-colored strings of unstoppable thoughts, amidst pangs of irritation, time was flying by, and it was almost 45 minutes that I was standing in the crowded shaky bus.
A dark-skinned woman, with many creases and folds on her face due to the grace of age, had luckily got a seat and she kept staring at me. At one point, a seat in front of me fell vacant, on which a young mother thrust her little kid and all was well, and the bus chugged on the water clogged roads, thanks to the rains. This elderly woman who was staring at me, started telling me to put the child aside on its mother's lap, and occupy that seat. I did not have the patience or wish to do so. She started saying, "Only a woman can understand another woman's difficulties. You have been standing for almost an hour." Saying so, she turned to the young mother and ordered her to take her child off the seat, and made me sit there.
It was hard for me to believe that such simple and straight-hearted (and minded) people still do exist in this super-twisted world of today. I thanked God for showering his grace on my tired body, and sat, at last.
The world has not yet lost its share of good samaritans, or I was just lucky, I do not know. But, I am grateful enough that I have had a very friendly experience with the passers-by of this cozy city, who had patience, empathy and grace to guide an outsider like me, through the labyrinthine alleys. Specific mention to be made of an old man wearing a white cotton lungi, walking along the MG Road (I wonder what he was doing there strolling along the busy road during the peak hour traffic, I am sure he would have found a better place to take a walk, it is the garden city we are in, after all!), and the woman in a crisp saree and a professional smile on her face, who were my saviours on my first day.
With less than 3 days left in Bangalore, I must confess, I am gonna miss the din and bustle of this city. There is some peculiar lilt in the tune of this city. Where else could my heart smile at the sight of absolutely brilliant hued bunches of exotic flowers in the background of utter filth and disgusting odor at KR Market? And, not to mention, the witnessing of the absolute sense of achievement and pride gleaming in the faces of my co-passengers, when they bravely manage to get a seat, against all the odds of pushing and pulling against the bodies of all shapes and sizes?! The City Bus has almost taught me how to live. In the buses, we are so close to the other bodies and souls, almost cutting short of hugging, in weird positions and angles though, but even then, we are so far away from each other, lost in our own meaningless worlds.
Can I anymore afford to despise the heat and sweat that is synonymous to the city bus?