Busrides

From early school days, I have nurtured a fondness for window seats in bus rides. For years I boarded a bus at five minutes to nine, and took the window seat, on the second row on the left. And stared out aimlessly at a city waking up. It was customary to Revise in the bus, when en route to an examination. I didn't much care for this custom as it would threaten to eat into my stare time. The stare time was also usually interspersed with reconstructions of yesterday's nine o' clock serial, the Enid Blyton Midnight Feast that took place the night before, the lunchtime fight of the day before. These indulgences in consonance with queer sights and sounds of an awakening city effectively pulled me out of moral quicksands of Not Studying Before Exam.

At age twelve, I was shifted to posh Anglophile school (earlier I was in jingoistic, highbrow Brahmo Bengali school), where the bus had to be boarded at seven in the morning. After a few swift maneuvers in this new bus community, I established Flag and Fence over the left window seat on second row. This was brilliant. It was a boy-girl bus. Which added variety to my morning canvas. Yuppy accented adolescent pigtail-pulling enmeshed in early morning trucks and chai-shacks and nine o'clock serial memories made for a hearty breakfast.

In college, there were Monday morning car-rides back to hostel, with radio in the background. Playing Dil Chahta Hai, Dhoom, Dhoom 2, RDB and Himesh- across five years. These were Morning Mulls of an average variety. Sometimes, I took the Nagarbhavi bus to Majestic, then one to St.Mark's Road from Platform Seventeen. Back home on Saturdays. On Saturday afternoons, these were excellent widow-seat-rides. Interspersed with heated conversations between vegetable-women and conductors in an alien tongue. Alien robust masculinity on kingsize painted posters. Alien political slogans brandishing each other across walls. Alien lanes leading alien crosses into alien mains, forming alien layouts. The humdrum planned neighbourhoods going about their afternoon business.

It was in Delhi that the old feeling of bus-ride-bliss came back to me. I looked forward to the odd matter in Tees Hazari or Debt Recovery Tribunal ( in Jhandewalan) being allotted to me, for the love of the ride. I had to catch the nine am one, because by nine thirty they would be too crowded and the Aggression Battles would overpower me. Journeys to courts opened up obscure dargahs across the city, some alleys bearing names of insignificant British Lieutenants, some undiscovered varieties of Jat Masculinities and Heavyweight Vehicles. And the forgotten cities of Delhi came forth to chat me up.

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