Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It Helps to Miss the Bus

It literally helps to miss the bus.Especially if the nature of your search for an idea for a blog entry verges on the desperate.I spend three hours a day commuting to and from work and cover a distance of nearly thirty kilometers one way.People living in parts of the world, where long distance travel is trivial and the infrastructure makes one's burden a tad lighter,might scoff at the number.It takes a seasoned Bangalorean to understand that thirty kilometers nearly amounts to the first hurdle of a dreary pilgrimage.My employer is kind enough to provide transport,thus saving me the ordeal of inching through snail-pace traffic.The only catch here is that I need to be present at the bus stop at 6:50 am;something that my occasional tardiness doesn't permit.

When I miss the bus,I rely solely on the benevolence of Bangalore's ubiquitous transport provider the B.M.T.C. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation has buses coming in various colors,differing in the provision of air conditioning,comfortable seating and vehicle suspension.The B.M.T.C. has a set of air conditioned buses popularly called 'Volvo buses'(there are other buses manufactured by Volvo which have no air conditioning but only the air conditioned ones come with the 'Volvo' moniker).For the remainder of this article I will use the terms 'regular' and 'Volvo' to refer to the different types of buses.

Travel in a 'Volvo' comes at a higher price.While 'regular' buses are packed with a diverse mix of individuals,'Volvos' go nearly empty and house either 'IT professionals' or ignoramuses who have no idea that the tickets are priced higher than usual.One can't help but feel piteous towards these oblivious travelers who pay the price for ignorance with a quiet grimace.'IT Professionals' belong to a different creed altogether.In 'regular' buses it is common to see school children without shoes,construction workers with shovels,bangle sellers with stacks of their wares,poultry sellers carrying hysterical chickens,eunuchs looking enviously graceful in saris and I once saw a turban clad man carrying a primitive musical instrument.Going in a 'Volvo' is like moving through a delusional alternative world where everyone,barring the average ignoramus, is affluent.This is the world of IPods,Blackberrys,noise reduction headphones,designer clothes and accessories and accents that are a hodgepodge of the American and the local.

As one approaches the IT hub,the commuters turn unnecessarily 'hip' and the bus conductors,politely multilingual.Passengers are guaranteed the pleasure of being addressed as 'sir' or 'madam' as opposed to 'regular' buses where the average commuter is treated to a derogatory 'aye'.One can no longer see demure college girls struggling to keep their balance as the bus swings precariously.People flinch self consciously even to ask each other the time.

It helps,occasionally,to miss the bus and witness,with wonder,the great divide.An extra hour of travel with four bus changes is far more gratifying than staying put in the company shuttle that gets you to work in a jiffy.

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