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…..