To catch a bus

One fine Sunday against my better judgement I decided to step out of the house and take the bus as usual. I thought it’s Sunday and the bus would be relatively empty but it was jam packed like weekdays. (I’m talking butt to butt cramming. You don’t want to experience the horror.) The entire city decided to grow a conscience and use the public transport on the same day. Please increase the number of buses, BMC (= Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation).

The light shrug I was wearing went into my bag as soon I got out of the house and started walking. I should have done the same with the woollen stole when I still had my hands free. Because it was hot and sweaty inside the crowded bus and being unable to peel off layers is the stuff of nightmares. You are dressed for the winter outside but it’s summer on the inside.

The swiveling over road humps, bumping into the mass of humanity was almost painful. I like fun rides but they belong in an amusement park. This is icky not thrilling. It was filled beyond capacity and the conductor was still taking on more  passengers. Am I the only one who thinks he’s bonkers? The conductor was hanging outside the bus. Literally. I’m not kidding. These were dire circumstances.

The ladies seats were occupied by lovely gents and today I wasn’t able to get the conductor to give the ladies their seats. I asked once and he ignored me. Sometimes I am too tired to argue. These men should be seat shamed for taking ladies seats and  they sit there almost flaunting it, daring people to call them out on it. What can we do? it’s a pity there’s no provision to make citizen’s arrest in India.

There was a guy on the bus who was going to the station and he had taken up the space of three people all by himself. He seemed faintly apologetic about it. Or was it embarrassment I couldn’t tell. Picture a large boyish man with a huge red strolley and a bag like the one students carry (Like a snail they carry their world with them). I had a good mind to throw his red strolley off the bus when I reached my stop but it would damage my hands further. And what guy travels with a red strolley? It must be his sister’s or maybe he likes colours. I’m not judging or maybe I am. I wanted to tell the conductor to book him for three tickets but this was no place for chit-chatting. This was survival of the fittest.

I didn’t lose my cool but I did look grumpy. I looked like a person forced to go out on Sunday when she’d rather be a bed potato (couches aren’t that good for my back). It was true in a sense. I had to return a lovely blazer. (Something’s lovely doesn’t mean it will look good on you, dummy.) And had I known returns were such a hassle I wouldn’t have taken it in the first place. Not if I couldn’t bet my life on it.

While returning I waited a while at my stop. When I could feel the cold envelope me, I started walking towards the next stop but kept looking back to see if my bus had arrived. I saw it arriving at the stop. I stood waiting but it didn’t budge. The bus was nearly empty and was waiting to take on more passengers. Oh the irony. And this bus has one row seats on one side. (I don’t know who designed it and what was he or she thinking because it has more standing room than sitting room.) I walked back, took my seat and waited to get home while music blared on.

A young boy climbed up and held the seat next to me for his mother. She sat down with a little boy dangling from her arms. How well mannered. Why do they change when they grow up? Or perhaps they don’t. They protect women they know and couldn’t care less about others. Both boys glared at me when I tried to speak to them. The one screaming on his mom’s lap liked my phone better than me (he cotinued looking at the phone and turned his face away when I put the phone away) and the one standing pretended not to hear when I told him to get a seat somewhere. Of course he would want to stand next to his family. He couldn’t care less about a window seat like I used to still do.

We were literally crawling along because it is Sunday evening and Market Building is still the one shot stop for all shoppers. Take that malls!

I spotted a yellow smiley balloon in the sea of vehicles. What is the point of buying a balloon? It will burst soon my mind answered without being asked. It’s like saying what’s the point of living and enjoying the present moment because it will soon become the past. I now know I am an adult and a practical one at that, which came as a suprise to me. But chronic illness has taught me well. To live in the moment but also to be wary of the consequences. Where is the idle dreamer who saw neither profit nor loss and went along with something because she felt like it. You were better off as a happy-go-lucky child, chided the mind. Don’t you know anything, said the heart.

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