This happened in that moonshiney period between 11th and 12th. You can say it happened in the holidays after the 1st PU exams, but then given that I was going for JEE coaching, there was a holiday to all my holidays.
So I used to go to this PU college which was a good distance from where I lived, solely because this bunch of JEE-coachers would conduct classes on campus. That was a novelty back in the day, and the only other alternative was to go to a PU college closer home, and then do the commute to BASE which was a much longer way off.Plus, I wasn’t so keen on BASE back then.
I wasn’t the only one doing this. There were plenty of others too. And there were a few of us in my JEE class who shared part of the route back home. More so when we commuted by BMTC. It was a pretty messy route – college to Banashankari, where a few people would split, Banashankari to Checkpost (via the famous 201 series), and then we’d all go our own route.
So one morning, we all turned up as usual to class at 7:30 am. (Hard to believe I was that person). We were supposed to have classes till a little past noon. Wonderment, it turned out that day that two of the three classes we were supposed to have that day stood cancelled. Which would mean we’d be off at 9 am, given that it was still breaktime, and we didn’t have college classes.
So at 9 am, we began walking to the BMTC stop. ‘We’ were five of us – me, and folks who I’ll blur names of thanks to privacy concerns – three other girls S, L and V. And there was this guy, who I’ll simply call The Guy, because there’s very little else about him that’s relevant.
L and I lived close to each other. Our mothers were friends. S would split at Banashankari, and The Guy would split at Checkpost. And V? She lived way off. So um, what was she doing with us? Well, she had a massive crush on The Guy and had taken to haunting him like a spectre. I think it was because he saved her life during a trek or something, I’m not too sure. The memory is hazy. I found it mildly amusing while also thinking she’s being stupid about it, and L found the whole deal supremely funny, while S would pass sarcastic comments every once in a while. And The Guy? He had no clue.
V tried to hang on to us for longer, but it soon became imminent that the route we’d take would be too round-about for her, and so she left in a rick, asking The Guy if he wanted a ride halfway to his place till the last minute. He kept saying no, so she gave us those secret smiles and glances and left.
So, um, the task was upon us. To find out if he was single. To find out if he had any old flames from school. And also, I think it involved finding out his phone number, being as this was in the pre-cellphone era. It also involved finding out what his likes and dislikes were, given that this was also the pre-Orkut/Facebook era. It sounds pretty straightforward now, but back then, it felt like the most daunting task in the history of man, cracking JEE included. And none of us really knew the guy.
And all this was supposed to be accomplished in the half-an-hour-fortyfive-minutes between now and Checkpost.
While waiting for the bus to Banashankari, we tried making the usual small talk, which involved whining about class, making fun of our instructors and saying how horrible the chemistry paper was (even though I really liked chemistry back then, I had to nod in agreement when he whined about chemistry).
Soon we found out which school he was from, which was not in South Bangalore, so it destroyed any chance of us knowing anyone from there to ask about him. And then it was about movies and music and all that random stuff. I was taking the long route here, not making it too obvious that we wanted to dig up stuff about him. So far, it was all of no use, and the only positive fallout of the whole conversation until then was that I heard about Gloria Estefan.
Soon, three buses had passed us, and the only reason we’d not got on was because the buses were too crowded. I didn’t know back then that was the default state of buses going from the outer edges of the city to the center during peak hours. And then when we finally did realize what was happening, we got into the next available bus.
Only after getting in did we realize it doesn’t go to Banashankari. And that apart, there were gropers at work there, taking advantage of the general crowding… and The Guy being a scrawny sixteen-year-old, couldn’t manage to ‘protect’ us all. So we got off at the very next stop. ‘We can always find a bus to Banashankari from here’, we thought.
But nope, we couldn’t. And we couldn’t even make conversation. Finally, The Guy said ‘Let’s go to Monotype’. Now this was a whole new universe for me and L. The Guy reassured us that he knew the routes from Monotype to Banashankari well. Impressed by his chivalry already, we agreed.
Short ride to Monotype, with gropers again, but this time we were well-prepared with dirty looks that surprisingly worked. And then I don’t know what happened clearly, but all I remember is a long, long walk from Monotype to Banashankari, while wearing a salwar-kameez with an unruly dupatta, and carrying a heavy JEE Math book – Gupta&Gupta, I think.
Now L took over. She was sick of my namby-pamby attempts at conversation, and took a slightly more direct route. Which meant she began pulling my leg about random fellas, as schoolgirls in pigtails are wont to do. And I played along, pulling hers, and then finally we ganged up on The Guy, and asked ‘So how ’bout you, who do they tease you with?’. And by the time we’d arrived at Banashankari, L had managed to elicit from him his entire romantic history (or lack thereof). And then we found a 201, and then The Guy impressed us with his giving-up-seat-for-us routine, and we finally took back our Gupta&Guptas which he had so sweetly carried for us during our long walk.
By now it was 11:30, and L and I weren’t expected home until 1 at the very least, so we were expecting to give our mothers a pleasant ‘class got over early! yay!’ sort of a surprise. When I reached home, Amma was on the phone, and was giving me glances as she was talking. I didn’t realize who or what, and didn’t much pay attention.
And then she finally got off the phone and I said “We didn’t have Maths and Chemistry today!’, and instead of ‘Oh what a relief it must be for you, you poor thing’, I got a ‘So where were you from 9?’. Least expected.
Then she proceeded to say V had called up at 9:30 (presumably in anticipation of hearing what dirt we had on The Guy), first L and then me, startling both my mother and L’s mother.
Oh, and it gets better. V even mentioned that L and I were with The Guy, who had hitherto been unheard of. And back then, your daughter-at-impressionable-age hanging out with unheard-of-guy-also-at-impressionable-age could mean a variety of things, all of which were worst-case scenarios if you were a parent. And L’s mom and mine had gotten talking on the phone, compounding each others’ worstcase scenarios with every passing minute.
I stood my ground, put the blame all solely on BMTC and gropers and rush hour, and said I’m off to rest now because my body’s aching from all the walking I’d done. And I guess L did the same. And when V called us both up later in the day, we pretended to have nothing to talk about other than this week’s homework and Coke [V] Popstars despite her best tries to get us talking. And we gave her a sound shelling the next morning and threatened to call her folks up and say awkward things.
There. Feels good to get it off my chest now.
Epilogue: It took V a long while to get over her massive crush on The Guy, who said no to her repeatedly, and went on to have a string of girlfriends. I have since vowed to never try hooking people up, for reason not connected with this incident. L on the other hand would get a kick out of it for as long as I knew her; we haven’t been in touch for years now. I also became slightly more regular in calling home and informing them I’ll be late, before any jerk would call home and mess things up for me. And most importantly, when I’m travelling by BMTC during rush hour, I make sure to avoid the middle of the bus and stick to the front end, and in general turning extremely violent when faced with gropers on the bus.
I am back to my old life as one of the numerous Saaftware folks in Bangalore, if only for a short while. Yes, that signals the return of all the BMTC rave/rant blogposts.
When I had just restarted the rounds on BMTC, I found I was getting tired an awful lot, and there seemed to be too many catty Isha_123 types who elbowed me out in the rat race to find seats… even given their general propensity to anorexic proportions, the average Isha is way, way more strongly built than Wanderlust after a month of swimming and yoga. And Irvine and OCTA have turned me soft. I have turned much more polite. I say please and thank you every few minutes. The general friendliness in a small town like Irvine have just made me forget that others aren’t used to making eye-contact and conversation with random people. All that makes it harder to nudge my way into any available seat and giving a ‘Take that, witch’ look to the also-rans.
But a week of this, and I quickly re-learned all that that used to come intuitively to me not long ago. And with this guide, you can too. So that you don’t necessarily have to undergo the coupla weeks of two hours on your feet every day with a gargantuan laptop on your shoulder to learn the tricks necessary to a windowseat on the Volvo.
So firstly, it turns out it’s rather important where you, the gone-soft software engineer position yourself in the crowded bus. Rush hours really mean rush hours; once you lodge yourself, it’s hard to shift.
And where do you position yourself? Right next to someone who’s most likely to get off the earliest, of course.
And how do you know who’s getting off where? Allow me to show you.
**Warning: This post might effectively be considered racial/regional/otherDemographic profiling, so do not read if you find terms like Vellakaran and Amit_123 offensive **
- Laptop check: This is the first, basic check you’ll have to make. If you are a softie, you’ll probably be travelling to one of the hazaar tech parks in the Garden City. You want to make sure that the seat you’re standing next to will not be vacated only when you’ll also be getting off. The first sign of another software engineer is a Laptop. Because no other sane person totes these unwieldy contraptions on buses otherwise. (Unless of course you own one of those sleek Macbooks which fits into your handbag, but if you own a Macbook, you wouldn’t be travelling by BMTC; Apple cleaned out its offices in EGL within a month or something, I heard). So steer clear of the seated folks with anything that looks like a laptop bag.
- Gender check: If you’re a lady, you should first scan all the ladies’ seats. On a good day, you’ll find a man seated in a seat reserved for women. Your search ends. You don’t have to do any further checks on where the man gets off; you tell him where to get off here
Sadly, there’s no seat reservation on Volvos. Which is one of the perks of travelling by non-Volvo buses. And the other is….
- Age check: Check for older folks. They are most likely NOT saaftware. And are less inclined to make long bus journeys in peak timings. They will probably be getting off within city limits and in older areas – they are most probably visiting other senior citizens in BTM Layout or Madivala or HSR Layout, and will not stay on the bus till Marathalli or Bagmane. Also to be considered are parameters like flowers in hair (for women), amount of oil in hair (for both men and women), and greyness in hair. Be polite to them, and they themselves will ensure that you get their seat when they get up.
Also of note are little children. Pint-sized kids going to school in large gangs. Some of these can easily be lifted and placed on your lap, even by a pint-sized person like yours truly. Sure, you run the risk of being called Aunty or Uncle, but I’d rather be the vibrant Aunty than the tired Akka.
Most passengers on Volvos tend to be Saaftware, and it becomes hard to spot the Pankaja Aunties and Sathyanarayana Uncles and the Chinnus and Putties in the sea of Amits, Ishas, and of course, Rameshes and Geethas. There are however plenty such folks on non-Volvos. Volvos suck, right?
- Skin Colour check: Face it, you will most likely not find a Vellakaaran or African or South-east Asian on a bus. The ones you will think are south-east Asian will be North-east Indian for the most part [Aside: There was this Korean at my workplace who kept getting asked about IIT-Guwahati and Mizoram and Nagaland too often ]. But on the occasion you do find an authentic foreigner on the bus, check for the tourist attractions on the route. If there are none, they are probably headed to Saaftware land. Avoid. Because you are expected to be polite to them; Athithi Devo Bhava, etc. You can also put on your best pseud accent and talk to them about the colours and heat and dust in India.
On the other hand, if they are the naturalized Indian sorts – Bindi, gold bangles, plaited hair, Indian clothes – they have probably grown to love the ‘chaos of India’. You are allowed to be pushy. Same with the ones who’ve come looking for their destiny and purpose in life.
On the third hand, there was this white man on the bus who seemed rather unhinged… he was eating his ticket. Be kind to such folks.
On a more practical level, these folks could be headed to either the British Council or Max Mueller Bhavan or Alliance Française.
- Clothes check: You reach here when you’re past the Age check. You have a bunch of people who look to be of similar ages – 18-35. How do you decide who gets off where?
If it’s a woman in formals or semi-formals, rest assured it’s an Isha (going by empirical evidence). Isha = softie. Or, hell, (semi-)formals = softie… who else wears those ghastly things anyway. Collars are a pain in the neck. You want to avoid other Softies; they’ll most likely get off where you do.
A woman in a saree is a delight to behold for reasons other than aesthetic appeal. I can go all Kamala Aunty and say kids these days have no respect for culture, tradition and India, they don’t even wear sarees, look at my generation, we all wore sarees to college only, but for the fact that I’m one of those kids, and we didn’t wear sarees in college except on one or two special days, when it took us a zillion pins and hours of effort to pleat those things into submission. Getting back to the woman who does brave all the effort, she is normally in one of those jobs which requires her to look intimidating and professional at the same time. One of those can be Hooch Queen, but those types probably travel in a Sumo, not a bus. Another is senior HR, but those ladies drive to work, and get to work early (to stare down latecomers), no rush hour for them. The most delightful however is school teacher, or front desk employee, for they most probably do not work in a softie place.
Also delightful is biochemist and nurse. They’ll get off at CMH or St. Johns.
Not delightful, however, is betelnut-chewing vegetable seller. They will most probably get off at ‘lashtaap’.
Brightly coloured multi-hued clothes, an abundance of denim, along with messy hair and xeroxed notes in hand should put a smile on your face. These are college students. They travel in packs. Which means the entire front two rows will be empty once the ‘College’ stop comes.
Nuns and Moulvis are easy to predict too – the nearest ‘Church’ or ‘Maseedi’ stop. You will not find Hindu priests in buses; they are madi.
Salwar-Kameez on the other hand is too pervasive across all job descriptions.
- Gesture Check: If someone begins fidgeting with their belongings, they’ll most probably get off soon.
However, avoid sleeping people, or people with their laptops open. They KNOW they won’t be getting off for a while.
As also gossiping-chatting ladies, especially the middle-aged ones in sarees. These are the ones going all the way across town for someone’s Sathyanarayana Pooje or housewarming, and they will not be getting off for a long, long while. They come fully prepared with company and loads to gossip about. Entertain yourself listening to their conversation (does not apply to Amit/Isha… but then you are probably entertaining others with your own phone conversation where you are sharing your salient observations about Bangalore with pals from your regions).
- Software Company Check: Yeah, you avoid softies with all your life, but then what if you avoid that laptop-toting guy, and it turns out he works at CGI and gets off at Silk Board, two stops away? You’ll kick yourself, that’s what, and say “Priya, your methods suck!”. Fear not. I haven’t missed that. This is a necessary step for anyone travelling by Volvo.
Check ID cards. It might look creepy, but you soon can master the art of sneaking glances. Even the strap of the tag will do. The dude with “Life at iFlex Turns Me On” (yeah, they really have that) on the neck will not be getting off until Bagmane.
Check laptop brands. Lenovo and Dell mean they’ll get off at EGL. Mostly. HP however can mean a variety of places.
Check Tshirts. Usually it’s the Yahoo and Google folks who flaunt those.
Eavesdrop on conversations. If they mention “Manyata Office” AND “Bannerghatta Road Office”, it could only mean they are from IBM. “Nice HR people at Bannerghatta Road” means they are from NetApp. This bit is an Art, and you get better only by practice. Do not feel shy to listen to others’ conversations. If someone’s whining about office in a public place, they deserve all that that comes to them.
- Language Check: I find this rule useful while travelling in East Bangalore. Anyone speaking Tamil normally gets off in Old Madras Road.
- Other General Advice: Given all the Volvo rants, it seems miserable to travel by those buses. The rates are more, and the assurance of finding a seat is much lesser than a non-Volvo. This however is true only on the routes on the Ring Road. If you are lucky enough to work in the heart of the city, Volvos rock. Otherwise, you are better off travelling by some other bus.
Except if you want to look presentable the moment you enter office. Non-volvos are more sweaty, which will easily mess your makeup or render it useless. Ironed clothes have no hope here. Oh, and you’d pick a Volvo if you like your oxygen.
Remember the stuff your Science teacher in school said, that went went like “Wear a white shirt and go roam around [Insert name of big city] and it’ll come back black” to illustrate the pollution problems in cities? Well, he might have been kidding in his day, but that really happens now.
- Caveats: There will always be that laptop-toting amit_123 who will get off at Basavanagudi. That ancient man might just get off at Marathalli because he’s buying a shirt in those hazaar Factory outlets. Those two nuns will probably get off at the Last Stop; they got in at ‘Church’ stop. And all these rules reverse for the evening rush hour.
This guide is by no means complete. And I don’t always follow these rules myself. But I find a marked success in finding seats when I consciously follow these rules than if I just squeeze into the first available space.
I have left out the rules for the trip back home not just coz I’m sleepy at this time, but also as ‘an exercise for the reader’. It is, as this nice BMTC post by Thejaswi Udupa says, the best way to ‘learn’ a city.
Yes, I realize I sound racist, regionalist, lackingScruples and just generally rude while profiling folks and elbowing them out, but that’s what rush hour does to you. It’s a rat race and you are still a rat when you win it, but atleast you’re a more comfortable, relaxed and satisfied rat.
Plus, average bus travel in the city is not thus; it’s a lot more civilized, and you tend to meet a lot of interesting people, if you get out of your xenophobia and gen ‘Don’t talk to strangers’ mode. People are way more polite. Hell, even I’m polite when it doesn’t come to finding a place to sit – you ask me random stuff – bus routes, autorickshaw-fu fundae, restaurants, housing – I’ll tell you, even if I’m hanging on for dear life on a bus. And that can be generalized to the rest of the residents of my beautiful city.
As for regional stereotypes, they don’t arise out of nowhere. Statistically, it’s more likely that a North Indian heads to a software company than to Max Mueller Bhavan or St. John’s. And of a gang of Tamil-speaking college girls getting off at Old Madras Road than at Richmond Circle (in the evening). If you trained a classifier to do these things, it’d do the same based on the evidence… it chooses the ‘best bet’ based on all the historical data it is trained on. Our minds are no different. You needn’t go to the extent of changing the alphabet to “Indian-Americans, E, F, G, H….X,Y,Z” (via twitter) to be politically correct.
Here’s wishing you much fun on your bus trips around the city.
Like they say, ‘Use BMTC, save trees/fuel/Earth’.
Little sleep. Tiring day. Hour-long ride home.
So the moment I got into the volvo that’d take me home, I went to the first available seat and proceeded to grab some shut-eye. I pride myself on sharing one trait with Masai warriors. Sadly, it’s not their height. It’s their ability to sleep and wake at will. Okay, make that half a trait… I can go to sleep at will.
Soon, two girls sat opposite me, and a man in the seat next to mine. I barely registered their presence as they kept talking. The conductor came around after quite a while, when I was just about awake thanks to the incessant conversation that I think was about their siblings’ weddings or something.
“Where to?”, the conductor asked. “Udupi Garden”*, said the two girls. “Udupi”, said the man.
“And you?”, he asked me, while one girl made an effort to nudge me awake.
With great effort, I turned around and said “KREC Guest House”**.
*Name of stop in BTM Layout, Bangalore, on the ring road.
**Name of stop closest to Girls Block at NITK
For the past one month, my movements have been at the mercy of Bengalooru Mahanagara Saarige Samsthe. I’m astonished at the distance I’ve covered in that time… only wish they gave out goodies for frequent hangers (most of the distance has been covered while hanging onto a narrow strip of cloth fixed to a metal railing).
I guess the amount I’ve travelled is colossal only coz initially I had no clue about the easiest routes to take, and tried to avoid Silk Board at all costs, apart from preferring frequency of buses over total distance covered. End result, I travelled from the eastern end of the city to the city center and then to the south-east, and the other way too. And THEN i was informed about the easier way out by a good conductor. Now, that was a shock; it cut my travelling time by half!
Anyway, like they say, learn from others’ mistakes…. here are mine, and how you can avoid making the same ones I made.
- Don’t, don’t, don’t ever say “NIMHANS hogabeku” while asking for a ticket. Not everyone will understand that you’re going to just wait for another bus at the stop there.
- When in doubt, go to Majestic. Or, at worst, Shivajinagar. Never, ever, ever take a bus to KR Market. You might or might not live to regret it.
- If you hate crowds, catch the pre-6:30 AM buses.
- If the aforementioned bus is a red-board, the above if-condition is violated, and so is your sense of personal space.
- And if it’s headed towards KR Market…. be prepared to share space with hens, eggs, baskets of grass, vegetables, and senile old ladies with betel-stained teeth and snuff-hardened voices, and the flurry of a Kannadiga dialect of Tamil.
- “Richmond Circle” is imaginary. Now has anyone seen the Equator? Well, Richmond Circle falls in the same category. Popular opinion is divided whether it’s on Residency Road or on Richmond Road. Though another school of thought puts it approximately near Mayo Hall, there still exists another which says it’s next to Shoolay Circle.
- The best-ever way to kill time is to catch 201. It takes you all the way from Srinagar to Domlur. The point is, it doesn’t do so through just the Ring Road – it takes a deviation at Koramangala to go all through CMH Road, Jeevanbimanagar, Indiranagar, Halasur, Murphy Town, Richmond Road, and god alone knows where else, just to head back to Domlur which is max twenty minutes from Koramangala. And this deviation takes two hours, at best.
- BMTC driver-conductor yaavattu route tappalla. They can never be wrong on the routes. This, I got from a self-righteous conductor when I expressed doubts about whether the route he told me about was feasible.
- In conflict with the above point is this one. I travel too much by bus. This I demonstrated when I directed a n00b driver on the right turnings to go to Old Madras Road from Murphy Town.
- You get verbally abused if you lack exact change. If you can abuse back, nothing like it.
- You need to be a frickin’ domineering bitchy bossy tough nut to be a BMTC checking inspector. There was this lady inspector who fined a passenger for not having a proper ticket. She said the conductor refused to change it for her irrespective of the number of times she asked (which I can vouch for), but the inspectre (boy, was she scary!) said it was the passenger’s fault as she didn’t create a big ruckus, due to which the conductor was encouraged to carry on the fraud!
- Etymologies! I didnt know Halasur was named after the Halasina Hannu (jackfruit) trees around the lake. And I thought CMH was just another kewl abbreviation… but it’s actually Chinmaya Mission Hospital. And BTM is Byrasandra-Tavarekere-Madiwala.
- East Bangalore consists of highwaymen who rob you under the guise of a little ‘extra’ for the grand favour of letting you use their autorickshaw.
- One-ways are the enemy of habitual bus-hoppers. Now if you have a BMTC pass of some sort, it’s hard to resist the temptation of jumping from one bus to another in the hope that the new one might move a bit faster. Especially when you’re in the middle of a traffic jam. Now I came across a bus which I would have had to catch two stops hence, on the one-way near Dickenson Road. In the middle of the traffic jam, I get off the bus I’m on, and run into the new bus. But ahh… turns out it’s going the other way, away from my destination. Added an hour to my travel time, that did.
- Vajra is a very good example of daylight robbery. These are some ‘special’ buses, coloured grey to show the area of law in which they operate. They charge one-and-a-half times the usual rate, but for what? The seats are not more comfortable, the bus is not air-conditioned, and it’s not even limited-stop. Bah!
- Stop names are a result of public usage. So you have ‘Sony World’, not Ejipura, it’ll take some time for ‘LRDE’ to be rechristened ‘Bagmane’, Fraser Town will never be known as Pulakeshinagar, irrespective of what the BBMP tries, and no one knows ‘Murphy Town’, everyone knows only ‘Church’. And where the hell is Gurappan Palya? Everyone only knows Jayadeva.
- An-n-n-d… it’s a small world, after all! Just today, I got to meet a friend of mine I hadn’t set eyes on for close to six years now. But that isn’t it… I happen to travel with the same set of giggly girls every morning, and they turned out to be classmates of my cousin. And that’s not all, they turn out to be the same ones I hear her comment about every now and then. And what’s even better, they were commenting about her! Turns out it sure is fun to hear both sides of the story.
- To finish off, I’d like to talk about the indomitable human spirit (The same thing you read about in Readers’ Digest). Everyday, I happen to travel on the same route as this lady who travels all the way from Jayanagar to ITPL, for a job in a garment factory. She’s hardly five feet tall, makes excellent conversation, jumps buses with impunity as she has a pass. There are hundreds who fit that description, I suppose… but then, this lady is completely blind! She knew bus routes like the back of her hand – she helps out a lot of noobs, she doesn’t depend on anyone else to tell her what bus it is, she doesn’t ask for help to get on and get off, she vacates the reserved seat in the front of the bus with a crisp ‘Excuse me’… “How do you manage?” I asked her. “I can’t bother about distance and the like when I have a living to make!”, she said. And another thing I noticed is how helpful the BMTC folks are – they assist her without being patronizing. They always make sure she gets a fair deal. And since she’s such a regular, she’s takes active part in the banter. The thing is, she never ASKS for help, and it’s so ingrained in the people to -for want of a better word- help her out when she needs it, that they don’t consider it out of place. Hats off to this wonderful city, where all that matters is your drive, determination and zest to live.
No, this one’s not about what I had for breakfast.
Morning-morning, I get verbally abused by some arbit BMTC driver-conductor duo for the cardinal sin of not having change, and for the even worse sin of being involved with software, and it was only aggravated by me verbally abusing them back in Kannada and talking rules.
Soon, the driver was yapping away on his cellphone while driving, and was prompty hauled up by some BMTC inspector, got sworn at, got a dose about rules, got a lecture about road sense and the accident rate of BMTC. And the best part was, his cellphone got seized.
Maybe I should start believing in telepathy – the whole while, I kept thinking “You deserve it, <add abuse of choice>! Take eet! Take eet! (in true NITK style and connotations)”, and they really Took It.
The bus number was 13…
Ahh, my BMTC experiences give me so much fodder to blog about… how tragic it’s only for two more weeks if all goes well. </sarcasm>
So I have had an extremely bad two days trying to discover new BMTC routes. I thought I’d chronicle them here as “Lord of the Ring Road” or “Richmond Circle – a new one every time!”, or “The Corporation Chronicles” or “The Raman Effect” (one of the stops in question was CV Raman Nagar), but they as usual turned out to be wordy accounts of absolutely nothing apart from boredom, lechers, frottesque experiences, “Are you queer or what?” looks, and an informal course in Kannada slang. This piece is not much better, you are warned.
So when I finally got onto a familiar route, and found a vacant seat, I proceeded to catch some much-needed shut-eye… atleast one good thing has come out of all those journeys from S’kal and back, I can sleep on any moving vehicle at will. And familiar route ensures I don’t have to stay awake the entire time looking out for my stop. So there I was, oblivious to all the rest of the world, when I suddenly felt a tiny hand on mine.
It turned out to be this kid probably five years old holding on to my hand to avoid being swept away by the crowd of people alighting at every stop. Now I’m not the sort who goes into raptures at the very sight of pictures of babies or live children, but I couldn’t see a kid get jostled about like that. So I did the most logical thing – I shut my eyes.
Ah… no, I didn’t… I put that in for the effect it generates. Soon the kid was on my lap. Enquiries as to who his mummy was yielded no results… why are these rules about not speaking to strangers so firmly entrenched, and not the ones about disturbing others’ forty winks?
The kid grabbed a nice nap for the better part of half an hour, oblivious to the jams around Silk Board, while I regretted not paying attention to congestion-easing algorithms in Nagesh Sir’s class that I could have figured out the best way to ease the traffic now. Then I also cursed myself for not paying attention for the past year to news items about Namma Metro that I could daydream in technicolour now about how good life would be in 2020 or whenever it is that the project is scheduled to be completed. By the time I was wondering about how effective a ban on vehicles ending in the digit 5 would be, this lady with a sleeping infant on her shoulder and another holding her hand started rousing the kid on my lap.
The lady smiled at me. I smiled back. And then she asked the kid to say bye to me. I didn’t mind that.
But why did she have to say “Aunty-ge ‘bye heLu”?
Remember the hair-dye ad that had this echoing line that went like “Aunty.. Aunty.. Aunty… Aunty..”? It felt worse than that.
I don’t have an issue with growing older… it’s just that the whole image the word ‘aunty’ conjures up is one of this responsible ladylike woman who is agreedly cooler with your misdemeanors than your mom would ever be, who knows the right way to go about anything, who knew to keep you away from mischief in ways you wished your teachers would think of, and who had atleast one trademark recipe you had never tasted before… I suppose you’ll agree that is too much to live up to.
So now I totally understand when my neighbor Jayanthi aunty Jay Akka gives me a scandalized look, and I don’t think I’ll even subject anyone to the torture of being called a “maami” or a “maama”.
A while back, Logik had blogged about the ignominy of being issued a half-ticket on a bus at age 21. When I’d read that, I’d given a sly grin and said that doesn’t happen to me any longer. I’m not sure I should grin that widely now…..