For a kid that travelled on a solo flight from the Middle East to India, using public transport should have been easy. For one, it’s a shorter journey, within the same city – which means it’s far easier to come back home. Second, you know the language to communicate with individuals – whether it was Dubai (where English worked), or Bangalore (Kannada). Finally, public transport used familiar routes – ones that were visible with the naked eye, without the need for any form of onboard camera, or blind faith in the abilities of a pilot. A wrong turn was identifiable.
Yet, the bus scared the pants off of me.
I took a while to warm up to the auto-rickshaw. I’m aware, you don’t consider the auto rickshaw “public transport”. Let’s deal with that first. To me, “public transport” is a mode of transport that (1) I am not in control of, or (2) Me and my immediate family are not the sole users of – that there is a possibility of a user I was unaware of. For all the taunts my mother made when I was a child, I was quite a germophobe, and sitting on the same seat someone else sat on scared me.
Worse, the shape of buses just put me off. Most buses look like monsters. That Cars movie didn’t help things either. Disney made a van a hippie, and I didn’t take kindly to it.
I used the bus once when I was in Bangalore with my grandfather – we had to go from home to the Air India office in order to book my return ticket and fill out some Unaccompanied Minor form. I remember the day pretty vividly – there were no Volvos in service then, so we used the blue BMTC’s, and switched over two buses. My greatest achievement that day? Holding on to my grandfathers hand and managing to stick with him throughout the ride. I saw a couple of people jump off the bus while it was moving, and managing to land on their feet. While my little brain wondered why I was incapable of such daring feats, it was easy to rationalise. I was sure they were stuntmen, blessed with capabilities beyond my wildest dreams.
Relocating to India, I despised the thought of buses. I stayed away from them for 2 years, after which someone proposed a challenge. To travel the bus route alone.
I couldn’t stand losing.
So I went.
Since that day, I’ve developed a romantic relationship with buses.
(That sounds so creepy)
But in general, with all modes of public transport. I find them more enjoyable than travelling alone in an Uber/Ola Cab.
Mostly because my brain paints backstories to every individual on the bus – secretly hoping one of them will be the love of my life, or that one of them is an Indian Batman.
Or maybe I’m an Indian Batman.
Or an Indian Batsman.
But you get my drift.
There’s so much creative potential sitting on the bus. It’s a comic strip waiting to be written.
One day, maybe I’ll pen some sketches. They’ll sell for millions, just you wait.