A bus ride in Kolkata : The Tribune India

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A bus ride in Kolkata

A bus ride in Kolkata

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Gouri Sen

ONE of the blessings of living in Mumbai as compared to Kolkata is that you can travel on a bus in a dignified manner, without being sandwiched between co-passengers, without having to hang precariously on the edge of the footboard or being constrained to cling onto someone in the continued effort to maintain your balance.

Mumbai follows the queue system, and conductors don’t allow more than a few passengers to stand aboard. You can relax in your seat, enjoy the passing scenery, and even venture to take a short nap without the least perturbation.

Alas, Kolkata has no queue system. Hence, one’s experiences there tend to be rather unfortunate. For two years, it was my lot to travel every day by bus to Kolkata University during the office-hour rush. I eventually got into the habit of accepting with calm resignation three or four buses whisking past my nose without paying heed to my frantic waving. I could, of course, see that there was no space to accommodate even a foot, leave alone my formidable corpus.

However, when after several attempts, I finally managed to climb onto a bus, I invariably reached a stage where I would be condemned as moonstruck if I even faintly cherished the hope of catching hold of the overhead handle to avoid a catastrophe. Was it not enough that I found myself standing place on the footboard?

But usually, I travelled without any mishap, for one could not travel on a Kolkata bus without being closely surrounded by fellow passengers. If necessary, one could steady oneself by holding on to the tail of another’s shirt or by pulling at a tie, disregarding the danger of committing murder by strangling the poor man.

At this critical moment, you would hear the booming voice of the conductor, your rescuer: ‘Dada, ladies seat charoon’ (Brother, please vacate the ladies’ seat). The gentleman, who had so far pretended not to see me by suddenly taking an interest in the beauties of nature, would reluctantly and silently vacate it. But his look would be eloquent enough.

But believe me, even then my ordeal was not over. As I neared my destination, I would cast furtive glances behind. My mind would be focused on how I would wrestle my way out through the human barrier. And then suddenly, I would find myself standing on the concrete road once again. I never cared to analyse how I had accomplished that tremendous feat. The struggle I had undergone, however, would be evident from my dishevelled clothes, the uncoiling of my stylish coiffure and my spectacles hanging on the nose at a rakish angle.

#Mumbai


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