IT was a hot day and I was in a hot temper, in a crowded Mazda, called W-11, bouncing painfully, on the twists and turns of M.A. Jinnah Road, Karachi. I was standing in the narrow aisle of the jammed bus, holding a greasy, cracked and rustic iron rod that passed throughout the length of the bus.
It was crowded to the brim, yet the conductor said to the passengers standing on the bus stop “Khali hai, aajao, bohut jaga hai…,” (“It is empty, there is lots of space.”).
People ran after the fast running bus to cling to the handle even after seeing many people were still hanging out from the doors of the bus, they climbed and held the handle and hung just like Tarzan on trees. With the people cramming in the bus, the floor seemed to compress under their weight.
I gasped for air … and looked here and there for a little opening of a window. But all I could see was the crowd — the heads of passengers which were ever increasing with every stop.
If someone asks how does a crowded bus smell, the answer is simple: obnoxious. It’s a mix of smoke, body odour, smell of grease, dust, and if someone is lucky enough, fading odour of perfume, all are found there. But the smell of sweat from soaked clothes dominates them all.
A bus stop came. A person from the front seat had to get down, and he pushed the crowd mercilessly, brushing aggressively against everybody and shouted (literally!) on the way, “Roak! Abbey roak!” (“Stop, stop!”) followed by one heavy bang on the metal door of the bus. The bus halted suddenly, everyone collided with each other.
And once the bus accelerated, the voice of a woman came from the ladies’ section, “Roako bhai!” (“Stop brother!”)
I wondered why this woman didn’t descend when the bus had stopped earlier! I heard driver muttering aggressively in some unfathomable language behind the woman.
The journey started again and a child started crying. The shrill voice of the crying child pierced through the ears, perforating the ear drums. Almost immediately, someone (probably the child’s mother) screamed, “Bus kar, chamat par jaigi!” (“Stop it, I’ll slap you!”)
The child stopped crying — I could not stop smiling at the grumpy kid who gave a very stern look at her mother. He looked just like an unpredictable volcano, which may erupt explosively, any moment.
Three seats ahead of where I was standing, an aged gentleman was sitting and he found that the guy sitting next to him was his classmate at primary school, and interjected joyfully on the discovery.
Just then, a cellphone rang and the owner of the phone took it out and started talking (rather, shouting), and a discussion on some cloth material started ....
A new person — a tough guy entered the bus making his way with a pair of very heavy shopping bags in his hands and dropped one carelessly on the floor which unfortunately landed on my foot. It felt like my foot was smashed under a bulldozer. Yes, because the bags contained something metallic in them.
I held my scream and wanted to hold my foot tightly to give it some gentle pat but as there was no space to even move, I stood there bearing it. You may think why I didn’t say anything to the person. Well this was because he was tall, heavy, with a big moustache and curly beard and curly hair. He looked like a villain right out of a Pakistani movie. So would you dare?
Just then I was pushed from behind and I tumbled to the person standing in front of me. He turned and said, “Andha hai?” (“Are you blind?”)
I replied, “Sorry bhai, vo dhaka…” (“Sorry brother, that push…”)
Another voice, “Hato, raasto do,” (“Move, give me some passage.”) and another push, and the person behind me collided with the hot-headed one in front of me, and this started a commotion.
Among the many voices and sounds around me, I heard the faint voice of the conductor calling out the name of the stop I had to get off. I hurriedly tore the crowd and made my way to the exit. The men were still fighting and abusing each other, while the others in the bus were enjoying their time by looking at the heated scene. The bus slowed down because of their fight which was now getting intense.
And I found this the best time to jump out ….
A Journey by Bus
A journey by bus is dull and boring. Once we occupy a seat, we remain stationery there till we reach on destination. We cannot move freely in a bus. Heat in the summer and cold in winter make the journey troublesome and unbearable.
I seldom travel by bus, but this summer I had to travel by bus to Manali since the entire family was going on a summer vacation by bus. Our luggage was loaded on the roof of the bus and I managed to get a window seat, much to the envy of my cousins.
We left at 6 O’clock in the morning. The weather was quite pleasant. Sunshine was filtering in through the windows on the other side of the bus, so my side was quite cool. Cool breeze was blowing and it was very refreshing. All family members started chatting although a few elders tried to catch some sleep since everyone had woken up quite early.
We had packed sandwiches and cold drinks which we had for breakfast in the moving bus itself. It was a lot of fun since everyone had to pass the eatables to and fro in the bus. I was carrying story books, magazine and the morning newspaper with me. First I read the newspaper to catch up with the latest developments and then went through magazine for some time.
It was lunch time and we decided to stop at the roadside Dhaba in one of the villages of Punjab. The food was very delicious and different from what we eat at home. Everyone stretched their tired limbs and some people even lay down on the cots for some time.
After lunch it became quit hot. I drew the curtain at the window and decided to sleep for some time. With a full stomach and rocking bus, I full asleep within a couple of minutes. When I woke up I could not believe my eyes. The bus was negotiating steep curves and I realized that we had entered the hills. Tall trees cast their shadow on the road and very fresh wind livened everyone up. The children started singing songs and the elders joined by clapping vigorously. It was getting chilly and we took out light woolen to cover ourselves. We refreshed ourselves with hot tea and started to enjoy the lovely scenery.
We could see terraced forms, small streams of water and waterfalls running down the mountainside and the local hill people cheered whenever they saw our bus. There were apple orchards, plum trees and tall chinar trees. It was like a dream come true and was just like the story books that we had read. As dusk started to fall, the conductor announced that we had reached out destination.
One didn’t know how time flew and this bus journey was very different from the usual dull and loving journeys. I will remember this bus journey all my life.
Essay No. 2
A Journey By Bus
It was a fine day. I decided to spend the evening at Connaught place. I got ten rupees from my father. I left my house at 6 p.m. to catch the bus for Odeon.
I stood in queue and waited anxiously for my turn in vain. I joined those who were struggling on the door of the bus. With great difficulty I also got my chance to get into the bus. I got a seat. Hardly had I sat on my seat when I saw a very old man. He was standing near me. He looked very sad. I looked at him. I got up out of respect. I offered my seat to him. But to my great surprise, a fashionable young lady rushed towards the seat. She pressed herself into the seat. The poor old man looked at her helplessly. He had to keep standing. The lady felt no shame. She kept on looking at the poor old shamelessly. I felt very angry at her behaviour.
The passengers inside the bus were talking loudly. Some were talking about politics. Some were talking of soaring prices. Others were discussing their personal problems. The family quarrels were the subjects of their talk. I was looking outside thinking about the sad incident.
The journey was not long. It was quite short. By now our burs reached Pant Hospital. Here may people got down. May others boarded the bus. As usual the bus moved on. An old lady began to feel giddy. She requested a young man to provide her his seat. This proud young man refused flatly. This was very bad. We should show respect to ladies. Young ladies also should offer their seats to old and sick persons.
At the Ajmeri gate three passengers got down. They paid the fare. The conductor did not issue tickets to them. I got a chance. I said to the conductor. “Mr. conductor, you did not issue tickets to the passengers. You are dishonest. “With these words I pulled the chain. The bus stopped. I asked the conductor to tear the three tickets. The conductor was perplexed. Some other passengers called him a thief. I rebuked him. The dishonest conductor felt ashmed for his dishonest act. He tore three tickets and threw them out. Again the bust started.
The bus was now running in New Delhi. My destination was quite near. At Minto Road the driver applied the brakes suddenly. He saved a cyclist. All the passengers got a jolt. My head struck against a lady’s she cursed me. I kept silent. I got down at Odeon.