Archive | February 2012

Of rickety bus rides…….

                                                                 : Ienla

Riding the buses in Delhi is a crazy affair unless one gets a seat. Somehow, I’ve always managed to grab one to my good fortune and it’s been a comfortable commute to work and back unless I see someone who needs it more than me. When that happens, I wish one could throw values out the window of the bus at times instead of giving up the prized seat to be among the  standing passengers, jam-packed with little breathing space. Not the best way to travel even short distances when one suffers claustrophobia.

Come summer, in the blistering heat I cannot imagine what discomfort awaits me. If patience is not your forte, the bus rides are inadvisable. I always take the window seat on the second left row to ensure my safety from unwelcome hits on the head from heavy bags of those passengers standing in the aisle; which is always the case during rush hour. Rude stares and comments are the standard reaction to polite requests of ‘please mind your belongings, I got hit’ and one is left wondering if at all something offending was said. One day, a lady (a little over the plump side), whom I noticed rode the bus on alternate days, was hit rather hard on the head. I could see she was hurt and disgruntled. Not one to let go, fretting and fuming, she asked, ‘Why? Are you blind?’ and rather insolently, pat came the young man’s remark, ‘Lady, you are not riding an airplane’.

During my rides, which normally last between 45 minutes to an hour, I continue to be constantly amazed at the sight in front of me. Though the bus is overflowing, the conductors still manage to squeeze in more people at every stop the bus makes. They do it with such flair, instructing passengers to stand one way or the other in a certain angle that I’m left wondering, alignments and angles on how to accommodate more people must be their entire day’s occupation apart from collecting fares.  Overloaded bus in this case would be an understatement. The sudden jerks and screeches as the bus speeds along keep one thinking if the destination will be reached in one piece and I’m left feeling a little shaky.

Shaky I may be but everyday sees me thankfully alight the bus at the crossroad from where I take that short walk to my office. When I get home after the end of a long tiring day at work,I realize, that rickety bus rides et al bring humour to my life.



    : Ienla

Though the thread be worn,

Shelter me neath your love’s tent.

When the storms brew,

Hold me close to your bosom

And when the sun blazes,

Let me find shade

Within the fold of your love –

That’s the place where I always want

To be anchored.

Ignorance is not always bliss

: Ienla

Settling down to a new job in the city has its pitfalls. Last year, after I relocated to Delhi from my hometown, I settled down to a new job that takes an hour and fifteen minutes bus ride one way from where I live. I tried commuting in the metro but it took me close to two hours besides having to change the metro thrice. I thought that was a bit too much. Moreover, the idea of being crammed inside the women’s compartment like a can of sardines wasn’t very appealing let alone the idea of travelling in the common compartment during rush hour. So, I settled on travelling by bus since it cut back on my commuting time and monthly commuting expenses.

From then on, my twice a day, five days a week rendezvous with Delhi bus rides began. The first twenty days were the worst. The locality I moved in was unexplored territory so figuring out the bus route by me proved to be an exasperating and confusing exercise. To make it worse, being from the North East of India with Mongoloid features and the disadvantage of having poor verbal knowledge of the national language ‘Hindi’  meant that every morning I was going to be cheated by the auto drivers. It’s a general perception that except for a handful of them, they are the worst lot, even the Delhi locals wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

I decided to ride the auto the first few days to familiarize myself with the route which I was certain would take me a week. What a disappointment it turned out to be! The first morning I was dropped off at Nehru bus depot from where I easily got a bus, the next morning when I told the auto driver to take me to the Nehru bus depot, I was dropped off at Kalkaji bus depot. When I reasoned with the driver he proved very argumentative and forced me to believe it was Nehru bus depot. Every morning saw me get to different bus stops through different routes.

I tried explaining to the auto drivers to take me to the bus depot without naming it because I wasn’t clear which bus depot was actually the one from where I was supposed to get my bus. I was hoping there’d at least be one among the drivers honest enough to get me where I wanted, for me to confirm.  Every single one of them would tell me they knew where I wanted to be dropped off but ironically, still let me off at different bus stops, the wrong ones at that.  Under such circumstances, I was in no way close to familiarizing myself with the routes.

Arguing persistently with the auto drivers morning after morning took the cheer out of me and my day. Having had enough, I finally decided to find my own way. I asked a neighbourhood shopkeeper, an old man, how to go about my destination who gave me a vivid description of how to get to the depot. On the 21st day, I set off early morning following the route the old man had directed me to take. In fifteen minutes flat, I was where I wanted to be. I realized all I had to do was ask a trustworthy person, there are still a precious few left. What irks me was why I hadn’t done it earlier and saved myself all the trouble? After the countless, frustrating auto ride adventures, finally, a lesson well learned, ‘ignorance is not always bliss.’