Nowadays, given my cranky insomnia (there used to be a time I thought this infernal thing was stylish), I dread the one and half hour commute to office. I am usually seated next to people with bony elbows who like to do the crossword, dangling their limbs this way and that, or those who pray. I know the latter is a good thing and all….but I don’t trust people who shut their eyes, do some astral gliding into another plane, and have a one on one with Him. It scares me.
Today, I was in a bus that was driven (and I use the term loosely) by a guy who got his license before he learnt the function of brakes. He would slow down at every stop for people to get in and then slow down again for people to get out. If a person waited for the bus to stop before getting down, the driver would snap sharply at the jelly-spined dodos. The dodos would get scared and jump off in fright. (That, I believe is how the birds got extinct in the first place.) I think the brusqueness was a carefully devised strategy.
Anyway, when I am in buses that don’t stop (urban legends like the headless horsemen), I pray – with my eyes wide open. The other passengers standing in the aisle dangle like unwieldy Feng Shui equipment and I genuinely sympathize with them. However I do pray that if I have to be crushed under a mountain of bodies, may they be deodorized. I mean, I have to stink once I decay, right? No point in having a smelly exit as well.
So there went my bus – hovering over potholes, scraping against autos, hurtling between trucks, crossing traffic signs that seemed to turn green miraculously. There was a ‘close call’ every ten minutes What was even more annoying is that the dude next to me, in this whole Freaky Chakra get-up, kept mumbling something to himself, with his eyes closed. (He had a very, very, very goodlooking Rolex though.) My stomach was in knots and I rued the day I ever wanted financial independence.
Then suddenly, everything felt different. The bus had stopped. The dangling passengers waved a little bit just out of habit and then stayed still. I felt scared. There was something terribly wrong, I could feel it in my bones. I could see the driver look back sheepishly. ‘Conductor’, he yelled. A gentleman with a briefcase between his legs asked the driver, ‘Kya hua?’ (what happened?)
The driver sheepishly asked, ‘Idhar se left ki right?’ (Do I go left or right from here?)
After the cacophony of nervous, getting-back-at-you laughter died down, we all screamed in music concert fashion: Right.
Freaky Chakra looked at me and gave me a beatific smile.
The bus stopped at every stop from then on.