Bustling Bus Rides
Hello folks, my name is Safar Naama. No really, that’s my given name. Since I’ve been taught to live up to my name, I started travelling far and wide as soon as I could. BlogAdda recently got me on board for their exhilarating episodes for our next series- ‘Found in Transit’. While travel stories to exotic places find a place in BlogAdda’s Picks, I prefer to revel in travel. After all, didn’t someone say, “The journey is as important as the destination”?
My focus is on people who for one or the other reason have a daily quota of travel added into their day’s itinerary! Now for most people, travelling is synonymous to seeing exotic destinations, clicking selfies where the actual scenery is hidden behind your head, and putting up travel pictures on Instagram. Not for me! I would rather roam around similar landscapes, with a fresh dose of human faces painting my blank canvas of travels.
I hit the road with the common man like a sardine in a can in the daily locals, buses or the exotic metro (if I am lucky!). You may find me lost in the crowded bus you just missed or locate me holding on to the local train handle for dear life I’m not just a local commuter, I also have enough airline miles under my belt to know what flyers look, sound and behave like. Yes, people who you meet while travelling are fascinating, to say the least. While many become the crowd, some have common characteristics, distinctly noticeable. As I put these interesting species in my diaries, it’s time to introduce you to them in the upcoming four episodes of ‘Found in Transit’!
Wednesdays! Ah! There is something peculiar about them. Squatting right in the middle of the week, it puts me in a dilemma of whether to be happy to have touched mid week or choose a gloomy avataar for the half to go! Anyways, I chose to be the former one, and cheerfully boarded my bus to work! Phew! It’s the biggest achievement of my day as the driver appears to have interned with F1 champions! As I look forward to finding a seat soon, I am happy to have blessings from the Rain Gods. Amidst the showers I look around and Boom! My mental diarist has finally started to work and this is exactly what I see:
When we see a bus, we see a bus. When this person sees a bus, he sees his personal bedroom. Somewhere hidden in the crowded bus is a person who is diving into his dream world oblivious to the passenger next to him, spilling on their shoulder like a wobbling jelly every five minutes. His moments of trance are cruelly hit by sudden brakes the driver keeps applying, jerking his poor neck back and forth like he’s headbanging at a rock concert. . Yes, I find atleast one sleeping beauty dozing around here or there, trying to get the comfort of their bed right here in the bus.
As much as I feel jealous about the serenity that resides on his face, I also pity the person who has to unwittingly lend their shoulder for someone’s slumber, and receive nothing but discomfort and the occasional blob of drool in return.It is amazing how people can switch to hibernation mode right in the middle of the hustle and bustle where I cannot even manage to hear my phone ringing!
Mobile Call Centre
Talking about the ringing phone,here’s a walking talking call centre standing right next to me who, by the volume of his talks, seems to be trying to talk to someone on Jupiter. I’m not the only one cribbing though, there are silent complaints exchanged between me and co-passengers as we listen to his clear rants with his girlfriend, played out in full technicolour right in front of us! Actually, I should thank him for the free entertainment he provides to the otherwise bored crowd in the bus!! Oh, there he goes again, putting his girlfriend on hold to yell at his employee in the same tone! The breaks in signal are no deterrent for our phone champ. Using commute time to make calls is a great idea, just be considerate of other people’s eardrums while doing so.
Finally, I manage to get a seat, carefully checking if its not reserved for women! As I continue observing the sample space around me, my trail of thoughts is broken by a common inquiry of ‘Kaunsa stop gaya?’ by my seat partner! I think twice before answering as I already know it will be a conversation starter, and that’s where I get my next category! The interviewers! They look like any of us and are easily spotted chatting with anyone who comes in their vicinity.
If you think answering them once out of courtesy will spare you the horror, you are mistaken. Once they spot a weak prey who answers them politely, they pounce at him/her with a long list of questions that might put quizmasters to shame! From your home decor to your marital status and family plans, no area is out of bounds for their claws. They aren’t stalkers or in any way dangerous – trust me, they would forget your story as soon as they get their next target. Yet they talk to you like an HR executive, making you wonder if you’re going to land a job or a marriage proposal after the survey. Phew! The quiz master finally has to get down, leaving me feeling like I just finished a therapist’s session.
As the seat gets vacant, an anxious face asks me politely if she can down. Her visible apprehension on her face clearly announces her recent arrival in the city. I let her have the window seat, giving her the much needed space. I look around, and I see such people all around. Their expressions are a curious mix of relief at having boarded a jam packed bus, and anxiety about getting down at the right stop. Getting the ticket from the conductor is invariably accompanied by a ‘Let me know before XYZ stop comes’ request.
This is followed by regular glances to the conductor, afraid he might have forsaken them and their request. Most of the times they end up boarding the wrong bus, getting stuck at the next stop, cursing their bad luck. The fading signs on the bus fronts with a language not known to them and lack of proper signage add to their daily misery. Thankfully, with a little help from helpful passengers, they’ll graduate to being master bus travelers in a couple of months’ time!
Late Standard Time
Standing right next to the exit door since the last five stops is usually a guy who is running extremely late, frantically checking his watch or asking others about the time! What is surprising is that you would find the same guy every day at the same position if you have a common route! It is amazing how these never leave the door side even when their stop is an hour away, as if given a divine duty by the Almighty to guard the bus doors regardless of how many dirty looks they get by inconvenienced passengers.
The funny bit is that they have also caught the bus with the same impatience, jumping on it with Olympic level agility when the bus has already roared off from the stop, or yelling after the bus to stop and accommodate them. Every brake, every stop and every signal is met with a huge sigh from them, as if the bus driver is purposefully making them late. These perpetually late ones make me think – ‘Should I laugh at their permanent lateness or gift them a watch that’s at least 15 minutes faster than ours?’
My bus stop finally arrives and I am amazed at how the journey went by in a jiffy. Humans enthrall me every day as they bring out colourful selves that make life nothing less than a vast circus! While some do their part on making us all laugh, some leave vivid impressions with their unforgettable behaviour. I dwell within these people, lodging within their souls and expressive personas. Next week, I will be back here with some more interesting characters that I will inevitably bump into with my next ride! Do you find any of these similar faces as you travel through the dramatic public transports? If you know of any species of passengers that could find a place in my diary, let me know in the comments below! Till then, enjoy the rides. See you next Wednesday!