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.