April 19, 2009
A person, when asked about the toughest job he has ever done, may reply anything ranging from his first night, first date, to his tenth and twelfth STD board papers. But if the reply is “waiting “then one has to understand the agony he has undergone waiting for his loved ones or something else. In this article I will narrate my harrowing experience waiting for the KSRTC bus and that too in a government bus stand in Chennai. Smart people may be thinking “What is he speaking about. KSRTC busses stop only in government bus stands”. Am I right?
To clarify a bit on my waiting episode. I was traveling from Chennai to Bangalore and the day was Friday. As you all know in cities especially on Friday evenings, one takes two to three hours just to travel a distance of 5 kms.I remember the last time I traveled to Bangalore, it took me 2 and half hours to reach the bus stand which on any other day would have taken only 40 minutes. My bus was to start at 22:30 and I reached late by 10 minutes and to my utter shock I was the first passenger from our bus to have made it to the stand. This time I took no chances. Even though my bus was at 22:55, I reached the bus stand at 20 30.Full 3 hours and 30 minutes early. And wonders of wonders, there was absolutely no traffic and I took less than 40 minutes to reach the bus stand. God has his own wonderful ways to teach us mortals a lesson or two right?
I had a book called “Jesus Lived in India” and it was a good book to read to wane away my time. But being a Good Friday, I thought at least this day I should do something good. I am, just like most people, a strict follower of Sankata Bandaaga Venkataramana and right now my days were going on quite allright, but still I was afraid of not being religious. So I turned my attention to INDIA TODAY.Election-2009 was everywhere, starting from the cover page to the advertisement in the last page and 30 min into the book I was bored. Every major party was digging the past, Babri Masjid, Kandahar, 26/11, weak PM, Foreign origin etc. No one was even speaking about future development. Dirty Politics. When I was wondering what to do, I saw a couple sipping Maaza and I too was tempted and could not resist. Mangoes are tempting .No doubt they rule the kingdom of fruits. Sipping Mazaa I thought about observing people around me. What better places than a bus stand to observe people? Isn’t it?
The bus stand (I don’t want to name it) is the largest bus terminus in Chennai and unlike Majestic in Bangalore is less crowded. I always used to tell my Tamil friends “What a waste. Your government has wasted money building such a huge busstand.Who comes here huh?”Anyways I was back to my plan of observing people and obvious my first preference was to look at girls. After 2 to 3 minutes of night vision scan I found none. Would you believe it? The place where I sat was in one corner and around 10 meters from it there were 50 -60 people fast asleep without a care of the world, not even bothered about mosquitoes. We cannot sleep without rubbing Odomos, but here were people who were happily asleep.NDA’s election slogan for the last general election “INDIA SHINING” just crossed my mind, UPA’s “AAM AADMI “crossed my mind too.
The reason behind telling this is 50% of people who were sleeping were not travelers; they were laborers and beggars who had no roof over their head. When the government has built such a huge bus stand and put fans, why not use them. True. I realized this when a n elderly couple came walking ,stood next to me, and surveyed for their spot for the night. After a minute they seemed to have come to a conclusion and headed straight there, put down their small bag and were fast asleep after 5 minutes. Just 20 meters from this place there was a huge board “DOMITARY A/C Rs 258, Semi Deluxe – Rs 180”. These things happen only in India right?
My time was passing smoothly now, I was enjoying my new experiment of observing people. There were 4 kids playing with the luggage carrier. Kids were poor .Their clothing made it known to the entire world. But what difference it made .Even well educated so called modern people don’t wear so much clothesJ. Couple of couples were discussing about their future, I think, or maybe about their weekend. I never asked them. Among all these people, a man caught my attention. He was well dressed.
He was checking everyone who was sleeping. He came to each person, peeped and had a closer look at their face and then went away irritated. I had no idea what he was doing. Maybe there was a robbery. Maybe there was a bomb threat and maybe the guy was a policeman and he was tipped off by someone. Thousand thoughts were playing kabaddi inside my mind. To make kabaddi more interesting, suddenly 5 policemen came and started waking up the sleepers. They began to hit people with their big bamboo sticks. Real Bamboo sticks. No one was spared. They were considerate to women though. Why only men had their punishment for doing the same thing the women too did, took me by a little surprise.
Well there was only half an hour remaining for me now and I really enjoyed the drama that was unfolding around me .The policemen who were fast asleep till now were wide awake and were doing their duty. I asked one of the policemen “What’s wrong Sir?” He replied “Idiots, what do they think of themselves. Have we have built such a huge place for them to sleep”. I didn’t do much .but nod. The bus stand was now empty. Till now I was praying to god that if at all thee was a bomb planted let it take off after my bus leaves. What a selfish thought? I realized this later only after my bus left. I was ashamed of myself only when I was a safe distance from the bus stand.
I started toward my bus, after a delightful wait. The queue in front of the ATM was never ending and so were the people pouring into the terminus. My time was almost over. On my way to the bus, I should not have been surprised to see the same policeman who was hitting the people, now sleeping in a comfortable chair and around him were the same people who were hit just an hour ago. Now I know why other parties can’t poke their noses into TamilNadu Politics. People pay back the government for letting them sleep in the bus stand. Even though I had to wait for 3 hours, I consider it worth the wait.
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