Monday, May 11, 2009

Bus Stories

Brian Matthew and The Beatles from Top Gear #2 (Recorded November 17, 1964 at the Playhouse Theatre, London; Transmitted November 26, 1964):
Brian: Yes, a point. But what about the simpler things of life, like...eh...
Paul: Like riding a bus?
Brian: Yeah, or going to just about any restaurant you...
Paul: Well, yeah, you miss those sort of things.
* * *

I have lately developed an irrational liking for bus rides. State buses or minibuses, for preference. If it is a private bus, it needs to be the type with forward-facing parallel seats, not the other kind. There is another qualification: the bus needs to be empty enough that I get a seat, preferably a window seat.
Earlier I used to view bus rides within the city as a mundane necessity, sometimes even an annoyance. Now I have taken to waiting patiently at bus stops, and choosing complicated routes with multiple changes, just so that I get buses which meet the aforementioned requirements. It is slightly worrying, this strange pleasure that I get out of bus rides these days. “Riding on city buses for a hobby is sad,” sang Belle and Sebastian on the opening track of Tigermilk. But maybe they were being ironic; I can’t always tell with that band.

* * *

Some days back while waiting for a bus, I fell into conversation with a fisherman who was going to fish (so he said) in the Minto Park pond. Since I showed some interest, he took out assorted hooks, lines, floats and sinkers and started to explain what they were for. Next he revealed some crabs which he had caught elsewhere. They were tied with string, but some broke loose and scurried off in all directions, much to the consternation of the other people at the bus stop.

* * *

Once during a summer school programme, I travelled by bus from Simla to Upper Dharamsala with a bunch of motion-sick Americans. The scenery was breath-taking, and I was immensely excited at the prospect of visiting McLeodganj. While I whistled merry tunes in my private elation, they groaned and retched at every sharp turn in the road. This went on for two hours. Then one of our professors threatened to throw her bag of chips at me if I didn’t pipe down.
But long bus journeys alone are no fun. Add a companion, though, and the equation changes. Some day, I want to go on a pan-India bus journey. I have worked out the details in my head. Backpack, much-thumbed copy of Lonely Planet, and a girl. The girl is essential. It shouldn’t be too hard to guess where the inspiration comes from. “Kathy I’m lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping.

* * *

On a bus in the city, even at night, there is usually enough light to read by. Now let us suppose you are going by a route you have travelled a hundred times before. But still, when you look up from your book and out of the window, there is one moment before you recognise a familiar shop sign or a building – there is one flickering moment when you are not quite sure where you are. I like that.

11 comments:

Rick said...

Buses. Trains. Interests in them sprout after we have been in contact with them for long enough to get tired of them. Strange indeed.

I agree. Buses with parallel rows of seats are somehow more comfortable and have the feeling of a bus. More so than the Limo style buses.

Motion sickness is just the failure to appreciate the more pronounced things around us. Sea Sickness though is a different story. I talk with experience behind me.

And about the flickering moment of uncertainty, well, don't we experience a small measure of the very same just when we wake up? Now, i like that too.

ಕವನ said...

Surely you also like the patterns made by the street lights on the pages of your book as your vehicle makes its way through the traffic?

BJ said...

Bus rides, even when a bus is almost empty, are fun.
As for one flickering moment of wondering if i'm lost, i have too many of hose flickering moments. So many, in fact, that i can say it's more of a permanent state of things with me. My horrible road sense is the only reason i am still not confident enough a driver. :(

Opaline said...

I can never recognise anthing from a bus if I'm not sitting by a window. It's the elevation, I think.

Indecision Personified! said...

Tho I like Bus rides too, (and I prefer the buses in bangalore to the buses in Kol), I enjoy Train Rides the same way that you seem to enjoy buses. I do not mind travelling alone on an overnight train though. :)

@Rick: Limo Buses? - Had never thought of them as that... not half as comfortable though don't you agree?

Pratiti said...

I curse this trip of yours all the time. Especially since I got Lonely Planet India. I am deriving some satisfaction from the girl being missing. If everything had been perfect and to your liking, I could have murdered you.

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

i miss schooldays. being on a crowded bus at nine thirty in the morning with newly-ironed uniform and newly-bathed brow both caving into sweat, that was the shit. autos don't really come close.

Rahul Saha said...

With you any girl is better of sleeping, so you'll probably be going, "Girl, I'm Lost, I said, though I knew she was pretending".

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

LOL @ Saha :D.
I cannot relate to this post owing to my limited exposure to public transport:-(, but I love it all the same. I have resolved to tour the city on bus at the first possible opportunity :D

WV:lawyr :P

Rick said...

@ Indecision- Well, i related the side seat design to that of a Limo. hence the thoughtless comparison. :) Nah, not even close. But i still prefer buses. 'Cept maybe, in May.

new age scheherazade said...

I love Simon and Garfunkel, Belle and Sebastian and bus rides. Of course, they're inextricably connected in my mind with homework, because I always did mine on the school bus. But then, I liked homework too.
I love this post.
Also, I hate buses here as a rule. Way too well behaved and on-time. They have printed schedules for heaven's sake! Takes all the fun out of it. (One thing I did like: One highschooler to another on the 606 that goes to the Mall: Who's your favourite Batman villain? Other one: Lex Luthor, by far.)