I’ve been inside this moving contraption that they called a special deluxe for Bangalore for around 18 hours now and the feeling of frustrated relief, frustration at the long journey, the bed bugs in the seat, the hot weather, relief at having finally moved into the city borders of Bangalore, had left me in one of my sarcastic moods again. In an unadulterated frustrated mood there generally is in my mind an absence of all thought. Here there was relief too. Thoughts were unleashed.
The bus was moving at a snail’s pace, rather at a cow’s pace. Or that of the particular cow that decided to go on a leisurely mid-noon stroll through National Highway 7. The hot mid summer sun injected through its rays a dose of lethargy in every being I spied on the road. The fruit seller with his dust covered face was silent unlike the norm of his vocation, yelling out the price of guavas to a kilo. The street dogs on both sides of the road chose to lie under the shade with eyes half closed instead of venturing into the opposite gang’s territories and trying their luck. The only thing that seemed fast paced was the mind, capturing the scenes and making mental notes. It gave words to the expressions on people’s faces, sounds to the crows in the distance, life to inanimate things.
I saw a line in front of an ATM. The board above it said “ABN Amro Bank ATM –24 hours”. In all these years I’ve so far failed miserably to find an ATM that’s not “24 hours”. You know one that opens from 10 till 5. One in which god forbid if you are trying to withdraw money at say 4:59pm and during the transaction the clock ticks over to 5, instead of giving the cash it will just show a smiley on the display with its tongue sticking out and asking you to buzz off and come back at 10 tomorrow.
I had a friend in college. He was the one who came to college in a car (that was a big deal in that part of the world in those times. Believe me), drove all the “cool dudes” of the batch to the bar in the city and almost always ended up footing the booze bills, even though he could barely gulp down more than half a pint of beer. He really was an ATM for many in those times. The best thing about being in a government college for me was that it gave me a perspective of life. A much more realistic one of society than what I was exposed to in the sacred corridors of a catholic school. I believe the most persecuted ones in a catholic school are the poor catholic students themselves. The little lambs were forced to fight demons of sleep while the reverent father vice principal tried to instill catholic values during catechism classes that were mandatory for catholic students in the school. Talk about discrimination. The poor ‘minority’ had to go through this while the rest of the folks had moral science and rumor goes even ‘sex education’ in those hours. I never could find out till 6th standard when I lied to the teachers that I wasn’t a catholic and attended moral science classes for full two weeks till some god fearing mate of mine decided to reveal my self-emancipation from the faith to the vice principal. Let’s just say that the ‘vice principal’ truly decided to live up to his name. Pure Vice.
For all his divine demeanor the father vice principal was one of the most hated being in the school. Everything about him was slow. The way he talked, the way he walked, even the way he thought. We would cross the father in the hallways and instead of wishing him something like “good day father”, they would say “good dog father” or even meaner things. His hair burdened brain processed just the first two words and would walk away nodding none the wiser to the children’s antics.
What brought me back the present was the fatso, I mean the extraordinarily well built gentleman, in the next seat stirring in his sleep. This person sitting in the bus next to me had taken up all the space in the arm rest and then was spilling on to my seat too. I mean his arms would extend over to this side and his elbows would start poking my sides. Along the journey I had devised a clever strategy to make him shift his arms while avoiding a confrontation (Me, normally not one to avoid one, but this guy was nothing less than a hundred and twenty kgs). I would periodically lift the arm-rest up all the way and then bring it down after sometime, all the time pretending that it’s a perfectly natural thing to be doing during a bus journey. I looked outside and we were not far from where the cow was blocking the highway. It was 19 hours since I started. The Special bus that the travels so kindly decided to bring out during the peak Vishu-Easter season was turning out to be a special journey indeed. Madiwala at this pace would be another thought unleashment away. Atleast.
Happy Easter :)