14.01.2010 : Thursday
No I will got get into a female empowerment lecture and how good it feels when I see a bus dedicated for women. Instead I will just relate my own tryst with this bus of a ‘different’ kind.
The office going experience was a new one today. Everyday I board a bus, usually a Howrah station or a BBD bag bus from the bus stop and after a tough ordeal of about an hour I reach my destination : Dalhousie. First of all the buses are ‘mini’ bus which means they have a lesser capacity though if you ask me they always manage to pack the same number of people as other buses resulting in a claustrophobic environment. You breath in the people around you and in turn can feel their breath on your shoulders, arms. The buses have only one exit/entry gate. Which means all boarding and exiting happens from the same place resulting in more chaos. Then there’s the heavy laptop without which I cannot function at office. The first thing I do after I get into the bus is to transfer my bag to someone who is already seated. But reaching such an person requires quite an effort since from where I board the bus it has already been travelling from quite far : hence the buses are already crowded. So an empty seat is a dream. In fact the aisles are so crowded you hardly get to reach someone who is seated. Thankfully I am a woman and hence people do not openly use obscenities for pushing in with a huge backpack in the rush hour. Else no one would have spared me for carrying such an unwanted awkward thing. Meanwhile its the rush hour and the traffic isn’t quite moving and the conductor shouts out to more people encouraging them to board the bus. Adding crowd to the already crowded bus. The worst is when someone sitting in the seats at the back of the bus reaches his/her destination. Pushing through he asks ” dekhi didi ektu jete jaiga din..”. Now where do you create space when you do not have an inch to move? Straining and pushing people on the opposite side, somehow maneuvering yourself on one foot yet bending backwards you create a vacuum which is immediately occupied. Then like a spring you revert back to the earlier position in turn helping the person to move forward with this impetus. This chain of action and reaction entails the person to finally reach the front exit. Though this discomfiture doesn’t continue for the entire journey..its only till camac street/minto park after which the crowd lightens and I usually manage an empty seat as well. The reason I am detailing all the challenges is to give you a picture of my daily office journey.
Anyway today was different though not because any other mode of commuting like a taxi. I traveled in a bus itself, only this was a different bus it was a “ladies special”. Excepting the conductor and the driver all the passengers were women and for obvious reasons it was quite empty. Like seats were occupied but there were still empty seats and no one was standing. So no jostling for seats, pushing people, no hustle bustle, free space to move for me and my laptop. If only the world was so privileged. It was a surprise to see the bus. But once I went in, it felt so welcome and a sigh of relief went through. A peaceful commute. I occupied a seat near the end, put on my earphones and the mobile radio and readied myself for a blissful ride.