by Diya Batra
After contemplating about my pattern of ordinary routine which I last followed few months ago. I recalled how at times common things start to feel so uncommon and distant. Refereeing here, to the daily bus travel which seemed to be dependable and consistent until now.
From the printed tickets to the digitalised ones, I've carefully stacked in a cloth pouch. They share the space with number of bills and receipts I refuse to discard for no particular reason.
Everyday I was in a crowded, sometimes overcrowded and at times quite empty bus. On some mornings I was standing in the same bus, falling, struggling to find the change I kept aside for the ticket. And finally, finding my little space among people I saw yesterday, weeks ago or never before.
This particular thought took me back to the bus travel I experienced in the hills a year ago. From Dharamshala to Chamba in Himachal. After missing the only direct early morning bus to the beautiful valley of Chamba, I now had to figure the stops, change buses multiple times and find a place to stay for the night. I felt a mix of emotions and at times, nothing at all, just tranquility.
A supposedly five hour journey, with high dense mountains and serenity around me there was force which carried me. The one I deeply longed for. I was thinking about how people respond differently to the experience of bus travel.
Both frequently and rarely. And I was transported back to my Mother narrating stories of her bus travel to college, and how her father's government job took her all around India in a local bus. From vast seas to snow peaked mountains, she looked and beheld divine creation through the window of the bus.
In the bus, I found myself sitting behind a girl who kept glancing at me with curiosity and we kept sharing smiles. A man who seemed displeased before I offered him some biscuits. Next to a woman who offered me her shoulder so that I can doze off till she gets off at her stop. Later on, she told me about her recent marriage and being a teacher in a school. She was happy to know I was a student and on my escapade.
Few of them were perplexed, other took me as their own. Women in colourful saris, faces under the ghunghat going for village weddings. Young girls going back home from school, families with big bags sharing lunch boxes. It felt as if I was unknowingly the part of moments around me in bits and pieces. Because many times public transport can be a very vulnerable place, as it comes with its own barriers. But It sure is a very fascinating interlude in one's typical day- where 'I' becomes 'Us', the window becomes a medium to perceive and reach the places that seem far away yet very close.