Not the BEST option

I was asked to attend yet another conference yesterday. Yes, that was the second one in as many weeks. They are getting a bit tiring if you ask me. I have reached a saturation and I dont think I can “build knowdge” on any subject, at least for sometime.This time my destination was Bandra.

Terrible judgment, that’s what I have. It was this terrible judgment that I am blessed with that made me chose the bus over the train. I ditched the local thinking the bus would be the easier of the two modes. I was wrong. I soon learnt that travelling by a packed BEST bus was in no way easier than travelling by train. Just as train travel requires you to meet certain standards of physical fitness to survive the journey,  so does bus travel. And I, with my blessed judgement, am incapable of meeting the challenges posed by either of the two.

What could I not handle in something as simple as a bus ride, you ask? Practically everything. For indefinable reasons I found it extremely hard to maintain my balance while standing in the moving bus. The driver driving at neck breaking speed (I suspect the relatively traffic-free road urged him to go over 60kmph. On Mumbai roads, anything above that figure is defined as speeding) and applying breaks with sudden unexpected jerks didn’t help my situation. I don’t fully blame the driver.  I understand that vehicles on Indian roads are unpredictable. Indians love driving in zig zag paths and they can’t be blamed for this. We are genetically wired in a manner that puts driving in lanes beyond our intellectually grasp. To accommodate all the hundreds of zig zagging vehicles, the BEST driver had to put his brakes to good use- frequently and abruptly.  It was this frequent break-applying that caused my downfall, quite literally. At one juncture through the 50 minute bus ride, the driver applied the break so hard that I all but fell on the guy standing on my right. One minute my body was positioned exactly at 90 degree to the floor of the bus and the next I was making a 20 degree angle with the floor. I didn’t totally fall over the poor man- the velocity with which I moved in his direction just dislodged him a couple of inches to the right. He didn’t say a word. Any injury caused was too minor to make a noise about I believe. I mumbled a sorry and tried harder to latch on tone of the horizontal black bars running parallel to the roof of the bus. I would like to draw you attention to a very fascinating aspect of these bars. The original purpose behind installing these was to help people hold on to something solid and stable in order to stand in an unwavering posture while travelling. However since there bars are positioned such that allowed only those 5’6” and above to get a hold of them, they are for all practical purposes useless for people like me. I am well below the stipulated height requirement of 5’6″ and therefore can use these only as money bars. Though that’s not the original purpose of the bars that’s the only purpose they can serve for vertically challenged people like me. After dislodging the man-on-the-right, I held on real tight to the monkey bar forcing my body stretch to unnatural lengths. Seeing my stretched-out plight, lady luck shined on me. Someone vacated a seat close by and I got to sit- a rarest of rare opportunity in a  BEST. I grabbed it with both hands. Fifteen minutes later I noticed a woman standing next to me. At first glance she looked like she was expecting. “Poor thing, she must have worked all day and is now going to travel all the way home standing. She looks so tired.” I thought. My heart went out to her. I jumped out of my seat and offered it to her. People around threw quizzical looks my way, but I didn’t care. I was too busy doing my good deed for the day. Soon after the lady was seated I realised why people were so perplexed by my good deed. A quick but careful glace in her direction reveal that she was not expecting, she was just slightly pudgy! I was in such a hurry to help I didn’t bother checking (But really, how does one check things like this? I think checking out people like that is rude) Spontaneity is such a stupid thing, I tell you. So pudgy lady sat comfortably all through the journey while I hung on to dear life, occasionally swaying towards but never really falling over the man-on-the-right. The man-on-the-right tried putting some distance between us. Unsuccessfully though. I think he secretly feared that next time around I would really fall over him and flatten him out. But I dint. I stood strong and stable even though my arms ached and my toes hurt and I cursed myself a million times for giving up my seat for no reason at all.

As the bus approached my destination, I prepared myself to alight.  I adjusted my over-stuffed bag over my shoulder, held on tightly to the file I was carrying and prepared to move towards the front door. I had to cross the man-on-the-right in the process. Just as I was sliding past him, the driver applied the breaks. Fiercely. I lost my grip on the ridiculous monkey bars. At the risk of losing my balance and toppling over, I groped for something to hold on to.  A fraction of a second later, I found it-  in the man-on-the-right’s face. He was standing right in front of one of those vertical bars that you find at intervals in the bus (the ones that connect the back of the seat to the top of the bus). As I tried to get a grip on one of those bars, his face came in my way and I quite literally whacked him. Its wasn’t my fault. I was looking for the bar to hold on to, he came in my way. Fault or no fault, I was horribly embarrassed. What do you say to a man you have inadvertently thwacked?  I am sorry but your face was in the way? I am sorry but I didn’t really mean to hit you? I am sorry I though you were the bar? The man was shell shocked. Here he was praying that I wouldn’t lose my balance and knock him down and I just took his worse case scenario and made it ten times worse!! He was too stunned to react to what had happened. I was too embarrassed to wait for him to recover from his shock. I said a quick “sorry”  ,ran along the aisle and got off the bus.

I think I am over and done with public transportation. Not only am I incapable of surviving the tests and trails of of it, I am now known to cause real, physical injury to unsuspecting co-passengers. If they compel me to continue using public transport facilities, which I am sure they will, I may be forced to continue with this kind of behaviour. And in that case you must keep track of Marathi dailies. Its only a matter of time before you spot a small article on the right column of the first page saying “pargi ne maansala marla” or some such thing.

21 thoughts on “Not the BEST option

  1. LOL! 🙂

    I’m sorry, but it was so hilarious! I know, I shouldn’t be laughing… bu the picture that you have painted with your words is hilarious!

  2. I am sorry for what happenend,but the way you have written it makes it hilarious..I just can’t imagine myself in this situation of .
    “I am sorry but your face was in the way? I am sorry but I didn’t really mean to hit you? I am sorry I though you were the bar”

  3. LOL….porgee ne mansala marla indeed 🙂 This is such a hilarious write-up. I dont mind u travelling in public transport as long as you write such funny stuff! Just kidding 🙂 You know a few years back guys used to offer seats to ladies. But since they reserved a few seats in front of the bus exclusively for ladies I noticed that even if a 9 mth pregnant lady got on the bus,guys will not give up their seat. Do they still have these reserved seats on BEST?

  4. Fell Off Chair Laughing!!! 😀
    Isn’t our public transport just glorious? This post brought back the memory of travelling in a public bus in Kerala. Drivers r equally rash n i witnessed a guy seated at the end being rudely interrupted while dozing…the bus took a SHARP turn and went downhill…so he slid off the seat n fell on the floor of the bus!!
    Loved ur writeup…keep em comin!

  5. I’m so sorry that you are having such a hard time with our public transport, Mandira!

    But your travel travails are giving us all a good laugh! You don’t think so now, of course, but in a couple of years time, you will be able to laugh at the memory of these experiences, too. 🙂

  6. hehe..gurl…you are cursing BEST buses?? you must come to Delhi and travel in one of them Haryana roadways buses….even when u are sitting..its like one of those CRAZEE roller coaster rides..with the drivers racing each other and not even looking at the road…mostly staring at some babe in the back.. lol

  7. I have traveled in DTC like this during my college years 🙂 We had become experts and running and catching moving buses, all we needed was one handle bar to hold and a little space to place a precarious foot… and we fell all over other passengers, and changed buses at red lights – the works 🙂

    I cannot even dream of doing that today! Yes Mandira our public transport needs to improve!

  8. hahaha….:)…umm sorry but it was really funny!

    atleast you managed to get off the bus…i remember many times i would miss my stop because i couldn’t make my way to the door since the bus was sooo crowded and people wouldn’t move!

  9. Poor you. I spent much of my youth chasing Delhi buses, and trying, like you, to shoulder-wrenchingly hang on to the bars. Looking forward to your next account of your encounters with public transport:)

  10. @pixie- im glad someone;s laffing!!


    @HC- reserved seats still exist…but the female population has grown tremendously, making them insufficient!

    @alwayshungry-welcome to the blog! never been to kerala but the bus rides seem like a gud enuf reason to visit!

    @n- so move back!

    @chakoli- 😀

    @manju- i m laffing at them already!

    @bethebird-been there,done that.. dtc and hr both.

    @SnS-:D will u stop already?:P

    @IHM-oh yeah, that running n catching skill is an essential with our transport system.

    @nidhi-so u wud like walk back to ur bus stop or wat?

    @dipali-i deserve a break from the public transport system, dont u think!?

  11. Mandira, As I was reading this a the song ‘Jara bachke jara bachke ye hai Mumbai meri jaan’ was playing 😀

    Your travel woes are fun to read. Am I cruel? *innocent face*

    BTW the other day while surfing channels, there was this comedian dressed as Dharmendra who talked about Buses and then the other one said, I knew that BEST buses were owned by you.

    BobbyEshaSunnyTransport 😀

  12. @SnS-thank u.. i spent the better half of yesterday making that!

    @solilio-oh that song fits in sooo well. and no u are nto cruel… the traveling is a pain… but ppl are totally allowed to have a good laff at my plight! lol@ the new meaning of BEST.

    @solilio- thank you.:D

  13. LOL at the Pudgy lady, and the man-in-the-right. How can you manage to be so brilliant in the explanations department> “Your face came in the way, hehehe”
    I was literally laughing out loud reading this.

  14. 🙂

    thank god our office is nearly empty these days! or they would have wondered why am i looking at the computer screen and laughing so loud!

    been there and done that… the swaying and swinging inspite of being the requisute 5’6! :p

    i always hated buses. but i loved the trip from cuffe parade to churchgate stn. we used to run to the top in double decker bus and try and get the front seat! and then feel the salty sea breeze! awesome! 🙂


  15. @abha-if u sway in spite of being 5’6 imagine wat happens to horizontally challenged people like me! town it town man…everything there is good!! the buses, the breeze, the buildings, the character in general… i think there is nthing i dont like about it…except may be the fish smell!

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