Riding in packed Chennai bus is lot tougher than I thought. I have always been one of those reasonably privileged class, who used to go by cab or auto or train or other personal means of transport, who at the traffic signals coolly stare at the mobs of trapped people inside the Chennai city bus and would gasp “ Cha pavam” (Pity !) ” or words to that effect. I had traveled occasionally on city buses, not the usual over-crowded leaning sideways ones, rather on the buses with moderate mass and peaceful driver. Those journeys were not cosy, neither do haunting.
Recent events in my life imposed me to rely on this bus ‘44C’. It was a 1 hour remarkable journey along with infinite number of people in finite space. The bus was thronged at the terminal itself. In the subsequent stops, people who trusted the statement “When there is a will, there is a way”, found a way to shove them inside. I was not lucky to get a seat, neither do the people who got seated were lucky. I mean, One can hardly call the seated passengers as “Lucky”, if every stuff from standers were dumped in their lap and suffocated to death. Here, inside the bus, the pain was mutual and everybody endured it.
There is something I witnessed on the eyes of every resident on the bus, especially on the eyes of driver and conductor. It is the gleam of displeasure and drop of hatred. No one was particularly happy over the trip. I asked the conductor to give me a ticket by showing him 10 rupees note. I think that state of affairs had thrown him to deep distress. He was very upset, in fact angry. My 10 rupees note didn’t help him either. He looked at me sternly with every neck nerve of his straining to bust any time , and barked – What is this ? Eh ? What is this ? Can’t you get exact change (3 Rs 50 paise) for the ticket ? .The co-passengers cooled him down. At last I got my ticket.
Then the ride was adventurous. Amidst this crushing assemblage , I noticed some fascinating humans. The foremost being this big female, about some 170 pounds, who bumped on everyone around her without caring much on how she physically harmed others. Then this lean old lady, not so contented with conductor for not returning her balance cash 50 paise, accused him as “stealer and cheater”. Then this diplomatic disciplined gentleman, who pacified everyone whenever a verbal eruption spurted out. Then this bunch of school boys with their backs mounted by bags of size bigger than themselves, were constantly rebuked by others for pressing their boots on others naked feet. Then this middle aged women who frequently asked every seated passengers the same question that “when-will- you- get- down-so-I-can-sit-on-your-place”. Bunch of college dudes who found the foot-board fascinating , and few other blokes who crawled on bus top, were few others who earned my attention in the course of journey.
The audacious tip ended at last when I hopped out from the bus after an hour. I felt exactly like an knocked out boxing player.