Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bus (read: ‘enough’ in Hindi) of this ride – Part II

Part I
The biggest fun having the window seat was to observe the proceedings of the world from the comfort of a window. I remember watching the newspaper boy throwing the papers out each day. Often the folds would open up mid air and the paper would not reach to its destination. The poor guy would then face the mockery of a bus full of kids. Then there were the ones who would wake up early to water their gardens. Not the gardening type they were. Just so they could do so using a pipe, else once its past the water supply time they had to do it by lugging buckets full of water. The other constant scenes were the kids who would arrive just when the bus starts leaving the bus stop and they would shout for the bus to stop. We would never interfere with nature’s schemes by making any attempts from inside the bus to stop it. If the driver wishes to stop then fine and if he doesn’t so be it. We always envied such kids who were spared a school day because they missed the bus, because in our scheme of things we were always fifteen minute early for the bus. We also had great disregard for the kids who used to get personal transportation to school; be it a chauffeur driven car or a scooter. You are to go to school using a school bus. Anything else was blasphemous. Is one allowed to go inside a holy place wearing shoes? Everyone needs to come barefooted. Sometimes there used to be races between our bus and these other kids and we used to root for our driver to beat the shit out of the infidels. If we used to win, the whole bus would be in cheers and if they won they sure had no one to celebrate it with. Often when such races were against other school buses the hysteria would just blow over the top.

One another reason we used to vie for the window seat was to ogle at the girls from other schools. We used to pass by around five to six such bus stops and each of them was assigned a name as well: the hand pump bus stop, the tea corner stop, the green bus stop (because the girls wore dark green uniforms), the market stop and the Gandhi statue circle bus stop. Once the bus starts nearing one of these bus stops, heads would start popping out of the bus. One often used to wonder that there were so many heads inside this bus. And we used to watch the girls, who were casually strolling and talking would suddenly prim up and become cautious once our bus used to come into sight. We often used to guess what’s happening in other schools by observing the happening at these bus-stops. A lot of girls studying would mean some exams are on, if they are carrying craft and painting then it’s arts, girls with balls means something sporty. One time we were astonished to see few of them wearing dark goggles. Neither was it summer nor had they done anything like that before. We thought it was a joke and shouted out to find out what was going on. The reply was: Conjunctivitis. Next day we kept all the windows on their side of the bus closed while passing through their bus stop. Well, that’s what the parents ordered.

The only spoilsport in our affair with the window was the rains. It was these times when all and sundry would try to remain as far away from the window as possible. But little did it matter because we didn’t have water proof windows and often you could find a few kids wearing raincoats inside the bus as well. But in the rainy season we used to look forward to the bus getting stuck. There was this rough patch of ground close to the school and it used to be difficult to ride it during the rains. We often used to pray that the bus would get caught there. The driver would hit on the accelerator hard and we would wait for the reaction from the bus. Ironically for us, if the bus lunges forward then we were doomed but if you could still keep hearing the roaring sound of the engine after many attempts then you know that god has heard your prayers. It was similar to the pull and push we experienced everyday to go to school; we pulling back to not to go and the parents pushing us to go. Eventually help would arrive from the school and we would be escorted to school. We used to console ourselves by thinking that we were at least spared the agony of the first period. We would also get added to the folklore of the bus-stuck fellows; ‘thou can get stuck but you can’t escape.'

I get transported back to the present by the constant honking around me. We are stuck in a traffic jam. Unlike the school days, we get stuck quiet often now, daily, be it rain or summer. There are no races now. The drivers are strictly instructed to behave and there are telephone numbers to be called to rein them in if they are speeding. Forget about racing, I would be happy if we keep moving constantly. There is no morning rush anymore, we get woken up by alarms; alarms on watches, mobile phones, T.Vs, mp3s etc. They have replaced our parents. They don’t push us to go to office. We are now pushed in doing so by our paychecks and deadlines. We don’t play at the bus stops now. We stand there like snobs, as if thinking about the theory of relativity, not relating to anybody else. Forget about putting your head out of the window now; we don’t even open the windows, because of the pollution. Soon I’ll reach office and would have to furnish my ID card to prove that I work here. Gone are the days when even the bus driver or the guard at my school used to recognize me. No ID cards needed, no names required. I wish to be on a bus on the way back to those days.

2 comments:

bhuji said...

ogle the girls u never told me that u cheated me. I need a refund

Jijo said...

Wonderful post, lovely memories! :-)

A lot of girls studying would mean some exams are on, if they are carrying craft and painting then it’s arts, "girls with balls" means something sporty...that's so funny.:)Indeed, so sporty!