Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thane to Pune on a weekend

Thane to Pune on a weekend

Vishal writes,

After a series of people centric blogs, I decided to draft on a generic one. Traveling is one of my favorite hobby. I like to do things which do not involve a lot of thinking, rather no involvement of brains. That is why I like situations such as complete power outage (rather blackouts), jogging, walking, cycling and yes traveling. Usually, traveling is such a unwinding experience, where all that you have to do is sit quietly (did i say, I like to travel alone?) , switch yourself completely off, switch on your ipod (i use my phone handset) and let it play. Don’t think of home, office, friends, foes, just in a world of your own, bliss, divine. But that’s a perfect picture isn't it? And when you travel on late Sunday evening, after a weekend hangover, without a bus reservation, on a busy route, in a festive season, you have to accept what comes your way. That is what happened on my way back to Pune in a lal dabba (public transport).

That horrific Sunday after having a look at the crazy SWINE flu-ish crowd, I had no option but to board what was available. Infact, such was the euphoria of the crowd, after seeing the bus, that I had put all my athletic reflexes to hang on to the running bus to get a damn seat. And I did get one after putting my life at risk. No issues! And yes, the bus was not empty either. It had people pre-loaded and 70% of the seats were already eaten up. Considering that, I felt like I did a great job. But who cares. I put my luggage (squeezed it) and sat on the edge of the seat of a three seater, later realizing that my counterparts where little interested in offering me the amount of space, I would normally get after paying the full fair. But no complaints. They were two ladies. One of them nearly twice my age and the other was possibly her mother. The bus had a strange stench.Probably a mixture of sweat (200 underarms), vomit (50 old and a few fresh ones), gutka, cigar, bidi and all sorts of other things which you can think of. Hygiene was least on my mind. It never goes hand in hand in such places. But to add to the stench, my counterparts looked like they had a bath a decade ago, and were in desperate need of eating the over-ripe bananas, cucumbers, oily chips and what not packed in a oversized luggage, in those humid conditions (before the bus even starts) and when food is the last thing on your mind. After a lot of physical and mental stress and my help, they managed to get these things pulled out of the luggage and mail it to their tummy. In return they offered me a wry smile for helping them get the stuff out. I acknowledged it with a warm smile with a lot of sarcasm inside. Nevertheless, the bus started with tons of people inside. People of all ages and sexes.

Checkout the Banana in the picture....

These days, the bus conductors are supposed to be helpful because on such busy routes they get added incentives depending on the number of seats. However, ours was an old man waiting for his retirement and his wrinkles and long beard suggested he had a daughter to get married off hence was neither interested in the job nor willing to help people. He stopped the bus midway to throw people out, those who requested to halt the bus at the non-qualified stops (even if it was pretty much on the route). To be fair to him, he was just doing his job, though he was least empathizing with people. But no one complained, neither did I.

Here is the Bus conductor!

The bus kept traveling and passing one station after another. Though the bus was not traveling at more than 45 kmph, the half bare driver put in a lot of effort and made it look that it traveled at 200 kmph or more. It stopped at some request stops to let the awaiting crowd know that it was overcrowded. But some of them got inside anyways and to my grief, a 17 something young girl got in and called me "UNCLE" (Uncle thoda sarko, mujhe piche jana hai). I was devastated and realized that my hey days are all but over. Quarter life crisis took over me. I sent a message to Ranjit who replied saying that you are lucky, he was called the same by a 25 year old. I was relaxed but not satisfied. After a hour or so, I realized that there were people who were in more need of a seat than I was. I had a good look in the bus and decided to relinquish my seat to a mid
-life crisis stucken man. Though strong and sturdy, it looked like age was taking its toll on him. I thought may be I will allow him to sit for an hour or so and then may be request to get it back. The bus in the mean while traveled happily only to stop at Lonvavala.

Lonavala is a scenic location with an ugly bus stand. It gives an impression that the bus halts in the middle of a garbage site. Flies, papers are found in abundance. The always crowded wada vala was doing his usual brisk business. The sweaty hands were exchanging money with equally sweaty wadas and chutney. People were happy buying those. I got one as well. While munching those, I spotted one adventurous foreign couple trying to catch a pig (or swine). Chikki walas were all around. I was dying to get inside. The bus smelled better than the station.

There (below) is the couple hunting the swine and yes the wada wala too...........

After a couple of burps, the driver got in, so did the bus conductor who vociferously ranged to let the driver know that he was ready. I decided to seat myself. However the person to whom I granted my seat was in a state of disbelief that I was asking my seat back. I smiled and let him have it on a permanent basis. He smiled with a lot of confusion. The bus halted at the designated stops to let people get down. The bus conductor did not stop anywhere in-between despite many request and remained true to the image he had created earlier. I finally got a seat behind my original seat. The man to whom I offered seat made it a point to bend his back and thank me(tumhi majha sathi ubhey rahile). I smiled back with no answer. Finally, I got down at Shivajinagar and was burdened with the thought of getting in to another government owned local bus. To my luck, my bother was there to receive me on a two wheeler. With a peaceful mind, I sat pillion to reach home in a pretty quick time. What a journey!


  1. Gr8 post. I dont know if i have told u earlier, but ur a natural blogger !!!

  2. Oh jeez..I feel blessed ....Ranjit pls take a note :)


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