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.’