August 2, 2009

Public Buses And How They Affect Me

I love my independence. My family loves it even more. They never panic if I return home after midnight. They do not subject me to extensive sessions of rebuking if I go clubbing five days a week. And they let me travel alone. So, despite hailing from a family with four four-wheelers (Oh yes, I AM showing off!)-all in extensive use, I am not allowed to use even one, for my daily use. My family wants me to grow up. And be self-sufficient. So, public vehicles(mainly buses) are what I depend on, for daily commuting.

Thus, I risk my life and dignity every morning and evening and night. For getting onto any speeding bus(most buses refuse to stop at the proper stops, but prefer to pick people up from every inch between two stops)is a challenge in itself. Some UsainBoltisms later, I am on the bus, but only for name’s sake. More often, I am hanging outside while ducking and saving my head from several other vehicles zooming past me-as if in a video game. Yet, sometimes I feel hanging outside is better than being inside. Once inside the jampacked mousehole, I notice that even the worst and the least worthless of the personalities in the world(or the city) have assumed strangely overwhelming senses of dignity. So there are the men with bigger boobs than normal women and women with more impressive moustaches than regular men clicking their tongues with irritation if any part of my body comes in touch with any of theirs. They frown at me, they glare at my low-waist jeans, they scowl at my huge bag, and then they all give me a shove with their elbows. I go places...well, within the bus, much like a shuttle-cock. And then MY elbow accidentally hits the fattest Masheema on the bulging flabs near her belly. And then there’s a huge chaos. All the women nodding in sympathy with the fat-moustached-pinksaree-greenblouse lady, and the conductor asking me to stand upright. I suddenly feel… “The world hates me”.

Even if rarely I get a place to sit, more often than not, within a minute of getting the seat to myself, an exhausted lady gets onto the bus. My sense of chivalry inhibits me from keeping the seat to myself, and I offer the seat to the lady, who takes it without a “thank you” or even half a smile. And I am back to standing, with people sweating all around me, and the humidity inside steadily on the rise(These days the rains are quite frequent, and EVERYONE knows how horrible it is to travel in a public vehicle, full of ‘normal’ people that refuse to let the windows remain open, when it is raining outside). Even I am sweating. My hair gel gets washed away with my sweat. And I start smelling like a Zoo-tiger cage. And then it happens to me… The desire to blow all the people around me up, kill them, shoot them somehow and just make space for myself… Somehow…

I have only started to travel in public hours in peak office-hours quite recently, only after I started college. In any case, I never was much of a North/Central Calcutta person. My northernmost limit of parts-of-Calcutta-I-regularly-visit used to be St. James’ School near Moulali… Now though I travel along the same route, the northernmost limit has been stretched to Sealdah-College Street. And at 10 am, you have to be at Sealdah to believe how crowded Calcutta CAN BE… There’s still more good news. With the ban on public-vehicles-older-than-fifteen-years effective, and the reduced no. of public vehicles plying, the situation will definitely become sweatier, smellier, and the clicking of tongues will surely increase manifolds…

1 comment:

Shahana said...

its d same on all public conveyances na..?