THE LOCAL BUS : and the daily wear and tear of a common man.
For most of us – the local bus proves to be the cheapest, the safest, the easiest (as well as the craziest).
Unlike other bus stops – mine does not have a signpost or a stand; leave alone the signpost and stand, there isin’t even place for one to stand. With an assumed bus stop, a share rickshaw stand, a Chai stall, as well as a Jalebi wala, and a Tin ka Dhaba, famous for it’s Ganna juice(sugar cane); squashed up all together in a tiny space; at a small (and madly crowed) junction –just at the edge of one of it’s turning …so much to the edge, that those of us waiting for a bus keep shifting places for fear of our toes being flattened by the passing vehicles in front; or of being carried off on the front wheels, of those drinking Ganna juice, right behind us who look like they’re ready to hop onto the bus, along with their juice, bike, and everything else. But somehow; we have learnt to adjust, and find our business, happiness, and comfort, even in the smallest and craziest of places and things.
Just at the side of the tea stall; a few shrivelled, poor – pussy faced doggies are looking up at a mountain of dirt, where a gollu – mollu (nice and round) counterpart of theirs is cuddled up …and every now and then, lazily moving their heads around, and opening their mouths in an hopeless attempt to catch and eat up those stubborn annoying flies, worrying his majesty lying on top: on the dirt mountain – the Pride Rock sort of a thing of the doggie clan of this area!
And behold; from across the road, making their presence felt by slowing down the traffic are approaching the : un – shoo – able, unmovable, Cow jing –bang; with the elders of the family in front leaving behind their piles of belongings as a sign for the very young, and the very old generation dangling behind…the doggie clan look across for a few moments with their ears twitching – and then go back to doing their own thing as though saying : ‘Areh eeh toh humre beeg brotherwa log haaye reh, ek dum sahi speed breaker hain, sasura faasatwaa human logaan ke liye’(Oh, it’s just our big brothers, the right speed breakers to these speeding humans’…)
An elderly lady with a basket of dried fish; and a poor chap with a cylinder tired of being refused by rickshaws , are now looking somewhat less stressed out with – the chap sitting on his empty cylinder munching on a piece of jalebi , and the lady sitting on the ground just staring at her basket, with her dried fish staring back at her with mouths wide open.
But I’m just happy, they’re not coming in my bus with the cylinder and the basket of stinky dried fish ….or else imagine the chaos of such an explosive combo!!
Meanwhile, all heads, eyes and nose involuntarily turn towards a very stylishly dressed young woman, wearing high heels, pulling a suit case bigger than herself; (bathed in perfume so strong that even a fly passing by might die !) comes hobbling her way into our crowd, I wonder why this Air India ki ‘sophisticated aamanat’(belonging) is breaking her head here and getting suffocated amongst us waiting for the local bus…….
Least bothered by anything that’s going on; two small kids , scampering around their mother, waiting for a bus; are having a spit bubble competition, tirelessly trying to blow the biggest one…
Wish I could do the same, but my feet are done with shifting spots….. and the sun above my head might actually make my brain shift out of its spot. Anyways my bus has come, and so has the ultimate challenge of pushing wildly and stepping onto each other’s foot to get in – while the gruffy, hasty, ‘pudhe challa, pudhe challa’(‘move ahead, move ahead’)…of the conductor continues……..
After much waiting; I get a seat; next to Cleopatra who’s filled up most of it . I quickly perch myself, on whatever was left. A second more of standing; and my legs would have given way. Even before I could fully settle… an old Ajji (granny) appears from nowhere; and is almost being pushed onto my lap.
The idea of Ajji being all piled up on my lap; while her highness madam Cleopatra is already all spread besides me– was not a good one at all. So – with a mixed feeling of compassion and irritation; I offered Ajji my seat. While I struggled to get a foot hold – Ajji was an extremely poor old woman, with no teeth left; but the smile she gave me in return of my seat, is one among the most beautiful smiles, I will always remember – it also gave me this great noble feeling of having sacrificed my quarter of a seat…however, my noble feelings lasted but a few seconds.
For, now I was ready to beat up the chipkoo(clingy) passenger who’s stuck to the pole of the bus like a chipkali (lizard). Come what may, but this chipkali will not move one inch, if only possible – he would even take the pole home with him. So for my own sanity, I thought it best for him to be stuck to the pole – right where he was, and wear into the metal flooring bellow.
Thankfully, I’m nice and tall and my hand reaches those swinging handles above your head, and so I managed to get through. But the not so thankful thing is – I become a support system for the not so tall ones, who keep getting flung back and forth.
What’s even worse is – becoming a baakra(goat) to the hyper non – stop talkative type. Who seems to have whatsoever nothing in particular to talk about but go on with an exhaustive repetition of senseless words at an exceedingly draining speed.
They swear to go on and on and on : until they have dragged you right to their ancestral grave for the hundredth time, and back.
A little behind me; pichkau Chaachi (squashy Aunty) , refusing to keep to herself under any condition, is jamming up whosoever is nearest to her and I definitely don’t want to be the next.
Finally, when I’m trying hard to get off at a signal, to cut short on time; I am favoured by one of the most impossible members from the ‘habitual of doing extra favours’ group – who favours me by telling exactly when, where and how; I should get off.
Before I could free myself of being buried under the unwanted favours; the green light comes on and the bus starts to move, at this moment, I felt like I could pull off every single hair of the person who came in front of me next.
But; later on, when this very same frustration cools off; you feel fortunate to be part of what we call – Chalti ka naam gaadi ( moving on, like a vehicle)– the life of a common man, where you’re never alone, never lack advice, adventure, friendship and amusement.