Bus rides can be broadly classified into two types: long and short (genius no?). The short ones I love and the long ones I try to avoid like the plague. The short bus rides are for example from the bus stop opposite your house to the grocer two blocks down, or even to the Big Bazaar across town. I like sitting peacefully observing my co-passengeresses, gazing out of the window or reading a book. I also like running after crowded buses, trying to get a foothold on the foot-board and hanging out of the bus in quintessentially Indian fashion.
These short bus rides are of course not everyone’s cup of tea. Hanging on for dear life all the while inhaling the “fragrance” of the salt of the earth and if god forbid it rained, the socks of the earth can sometimes cause even the hardest person to feel the strain. Arguing with the conductor for the change and the driver because he doesn’t stop at your stop as well as alternatively apologising and antagonising your co-passengers for stepping on their foot is one of the traits of a bus ride in Hindustan post Jesus H. Christ. Nonetheless, I enjoy every bit of it.
The bus rides I try to avoid are the long distance ones, the ones across states, countries or continents. A suitable example will be the one that take you from one city full of people sporting backpacks, ID cards and earphones to one in the Naalikerathinte Naadu where you have a house like a Narayanakkilikoodu. Or maybe from one place in the latter to another, sufficiently far apart that the language of one is incomprehensible in the other (that is much closer than you might imagine).
Even the sight of the big bulky bus bounding down the road fills me with trepidation. I remember the countless babies crying their tiny hearts out (at extremely loud volume nonetheless) and the buckets of vomit the trajectories of which miss my face by whiskers. Thank god that I don’t have whiskers! I shed a silent tear thinking about the thousands of beautiful girls that sit in the seat just in front of me while the seats adjacent to me are occupied by people who are carrying enough luggage to last them a lifetime or the inquisitive people who appear to be unable to take their next breath until they know everything about me. I shudder remembering the overturned buses and smashed junks that litter either side of the highway that connects my usual destinations. Cutting the description short, I quake like a jelly and my timbers start shivering.
You would be excused if you conclude that with this great phobia of long distance journeys, I do most of my travelling via train. If you belong to the ilk which believes in planning and foresight, the aforementioned conclusion is almost foregone. There my dear reader, your ignorance of the creature called Damu shines through. Damu, rather I, has(/have respectively) never thought ahead of the day’s breakfast compared to some people who have even thought of the breakfast of the kid they will have in some 10 years. If somebody graded my planning on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being the planning of the grasshopper for winter and 10 being the planning of Rohilettan, I will get somewhere in the region of -10.
I eagerly wait for the day when IRCTC reduces its reservation period from 4 months to 1 day. 4 months! I laugh in their faceless faces at their gross presumption. 4 months! Ha ha. 4 days and you are talking business. 1 and you have got yourself a deal. Till that day, I swallow my fear, harden my nerves and take that shaky step on to the footboard of the Rajahamsa, that humble steed that carries my noble self everywhere.