Diversions on board

Diversions on board


Now it is possible to travel by bus from the Metro station on M G Road to many different destinations; many to the Shivajinagar bus stop for other connections.

Beware though if you are getting on a No 9 which will take you onwards via the main bus stop. I always get prepared by stationing myself at the door, umbrella in hand, ready to face the onslaught to come.

As the bus pulls to a stop and the doors swing open, crowds attempt to force themselves in, but on observing my umbrella brandished like a sword, as those behind cried ‘forward’, while those at the front cried ‘back’, I feel like Horatius at the bridge as the hordes part to allow us to descend the steps and exit the bus, but not before I get in a few elbow jabs and pokes with my umbrella at particularly obnoxious characters who still attempt to push in at the last minute. I do not recommend others at home imitating this as it requires months of practice and accurate positioning of one’s umbrella, body and elbows.

Still, I prefer this mode of travel to the alternative of having to argue with surly auto drivers who wish to fleece you. The confrontations are too exhausting to feel any sense of victory or relief when the price is eventually negotiated. Besides this, there is the pleasant physical activity involved in travelling by bus, not to speak of the sense of camaraderie engendered by fellow travellers who have successfully secured a place to sit.

On one of the unusually heavy rainy days, I managed to get a seat in a decrepit bus seemingly tampered with by some sadist at the workshop so that drops of water intentionally fell onto the seats and rarely on the empty spaces in-between them.
So, here we had a bus full of people, all sitting at strange angles, legs far to the right or left of their bodies and some leaning forward, while others leant to the right or left. A man seated facing me was moving his head sideways, in what seemed to be perfect synchronisation as he avoided alternating drops from hitting his head. He must have been a Bharatanatyam expert as only they could move the head in that side swinging motion so effortlessly.

Across the aisle a mother cradled her four or five-year-old son on her lap. He was very alert and kept making comments on whatever he saw, sometimes imitating people who particularly caught his attention. The ‘dancer’ was one. The child saw the drops fall from the ceiling in front of him, and using his hands, began to catch them, using snake-like motions, smiling delightedly as he succeeded in catching occasional drops despite his mother’s attempts to stop him.

Just then the bus started up and pulled out of the stop. The movement caused a pool of water which had collected on the roof to come gushing in through the air duct. It managed to drench two unlucky commuters on the heads while it continued on its way along the floor. Now the seated ones were obliged to raise their feet to avoid being caught in the tidal wave. Sitting at angles, feet raised, arms akimbo, they looked like plastic dolls crammed into a kid’s toy truck.

Above us the lights protected with semi-globular frosted-glass were beginning to get water in them. A small hole in the base allowed the water to trickle out. The little kid stared and shouted to his mother, ‘Look mummy, milk is coming from the light!’ Almost all the commuters seemed well-versed in ‘filmi-symbolism’ as laughter rippled through the dripping air; commuters would look at each other later and smile. How a child can lighten the atmosphere.