Sunday, January 11, 2009

Route No. 492

This has more to do with life itself than just a bus route. A new story everyday, a thousand faces each trip, some known, many unknown, a mammoth of steel, wheels, screws, paint, a guy at the wheel and one on the door, and of course just about a few hundred crammed inside. 
This is the story of a white line bus, named simply 492. More in demand than any fancy babe as people queue up at stands to wait for its arrival, and keep track of what time it comes and leaves. 
It is not only a mode of transport, but for hundreds of people, the freedom to work, the freedom to go wherever they want with the power of a 10 rupee note.  I share a very intimate love hate relationship with 492. As it ferries me across town, I curse it for the lack of space, for the way my clothes get crushed even before I reach work, for how I have to sit on the engine itsef and feel immensly lucky, for making me hang on for dear life as the driver finishes his latest F1 racing fetish with 323. I hate it and despise it for making me a part of the aam janta of dilli, fighting for ladies seats, haggling for better notes as the conducter hands me back my change. When my head is not splitting due to the loud, foot tapping music which could put any DJ party to shame,  I am forced to listen to atleast 10 simultaneous cell phone conversations with everyone trying to explain on the phone how they can't hear anything coz they are in the bus.  As I try to stay away from men trying to get as close as possible and try to maintain my balance while making sure that if there is even an inch of space I use it to park my butt, I often think about not traveling in 492 anymore. Not being a part of the same mad crowd everyday, not fighting the same mini mahabharat everyday while getting onto and off from the bus. But the truth is, I couldn't live without it. Couldn't bear to do away with the immense excitement of trying to guess whether we beat the 323 or not.  Whether we  will go from the much shorter toll road, called "toll" for short or not. I would still be going to work but the thrill, the excitement, and a little bit of life would be missing. I wouldn't have a story to tell for each trip, each journey made. There would be no bus "friends" who would keep a seat for me or even if they are standing themselves make a little place for me to stand with them, there  would be no excitement, no adventure, no loud music, no fights on change, no jostling for space, no arguments, no gossiping about cell phone conversations heard, no comparisons of drivers' driving skills, no heartbreaks on missing the bus either. much for the sophistication of wearing non crushed clothes to work. I think I will go with my adventure on wheels anyday. I come.


The past few days have been hectic. Work, more work, and some more work. There has been no time to be happy, to be sad, or simply be myself. And then, yesterday I went for a walk at night and while I was walking with the music plugged in, it hit me. It came out of nowhere and went in like a warmth that you feel when you have a hot mug of drinking chocolate in the insane winter. This amazing feeling of being thankful to whoever the higher power is for giving me the opportunity to to crib, to feel irritated that I have so much work, to be able to make a choice about everything and then feel let down for the lack of options. I realized that life had indeed smiled on me by giving me a warm home, wonderful parents, a sibling I could fight with, a dog, an education, food, people who love me, people who hate me, interests, work, the list is endless. Gratitude for what you have and what you don't have (and would rather not have), is something I am learning now. Not a very big fan of motiovational reading material, I have always laughed at people who swear by the "Secret", and don't really believe that thinking is more powerful than doing. But being thankful or just feeling gratitude leaves you with a glow inside, and if you take a look around, and think about your blessings, you are often left with a feeling of being awfully lucky. I am.