Monday, May 14, 2007

Travails of Travel

Having lived in Chennai for the past six years and having traveled in the bus for majority of those six years I think I am qualified enough to write about bus travel in the (in)famous PTC buses of Chennai. This blog comes in wake of a recent event in my life. My bus travel from adyar to velacherry.
Now coming to bus travel. There are five stages in bus travel namely


Let me discuss each of these stages in detail. My experience with the first and second category is almost nil coz I have NEVER got the place to sit, sometimes if I am lucky I get an area of quarter feet by quarter feet to stand but MOST of the times I come under category three or four.

If u have done punyam in ur previous janma or if u r as belligerent as mike Tyson or if u board a bus at the source station u will be lucky enough to belong to this category. When u belong to this category u can sit comfortably in the seats and smirk at all the standing/squeezing/dying/dead people around u as if to say “Ho ho ho!!i sit therefore I am”(ok that was a bad one!!sorry). most of the times even if u board the bus at the source station u might have to go to the standing category because u have been pushed roughly or elbowed cruelly by some meenkaari/ pookaari/pichakaari/karigakaari who believes herself to be mike Tyson re-incarnate!! A disadvantage of being in this category is that if u r below the age of 30(and are sitting) then u will have to give up ur seat for old women/expectant mothers/ women with small wailing running nose kids. This way u can do some punyam and ensure urself a seat in the bus in ur next janma.

This is a comparatively comfortable position where u will have some space to stand (sometimes even lean) comfortably and have no fear of perverts (because u can steer clear of them. U will have ample space to do so) or pickpockets. U will have enough space to walk to the conductor and buy ur own ticket and will be able to get down comfortable when ur stop arrives without having to push/pull/shove/ jostle through a sea of humanity. And after u get down u wont feel like someone has just squeezed the life out of u and u will be still be able to walk.


This is the next stage where the rule of 40 sitting+25 standing will be broken. There will be 40 people sitting and around 40-50 people hanging, standing, suspended, stamping and doing lots of other disgusting things. In this stage it is best to carry with u a deodorant with you. This is not for you. This can come in handy when u r forced to stand next to person who has lifted his hands to suport himself and the stench emanating from his underarms is suffocating u to say the least. So a minimum requirement for this stage is to carry a deo if u want to survive and not die of asphyxiation. U can liberally spray the person with the deo. In this stage u must try to reach the entrance two stops before u wanna get down. Only then u might be successful in getting down two stops after ur intended stop. In this stage u can vent out all ur anger on someone by going personally to buy tickets(rather than passing it thru someone) and stamping the feet of everyone really hard with all ur strength in the process. Really helps ease out the tension of being squeezed mercilessly like a lemon inside a lemon squeezer.

In this stage it is wise to call home before boarding the bus and telling them that u MIGHT only come home and let me tell u there in NO point waiting for the next bus to come because the next bus will be equally if not more crowded. When the bus approaches the stop u might wonder “how the hell am I gonna get into this sea of humanity”. Don’t worry. U just have to stand near the entrance and a wave of humanity will push u inside. It is advisable not to carry any bags because when u get down after this stage either u will not have a bag or not have the straps on ur bag or the contents of ur bag will be missing. In this stage u must try to get to the entrance almost as soon as u board because only then u will be able to reach the entrance in time for ur stop. All those people who argue that they will stand near the entrance itself, it is obvious u have never seen the insides of a bus in the “dying” stage. As soon as u enter the bus the conductor will shoo u and u will be pushed by fat grandmas, stinking men and malicious aunties into the absolute interiors of the bus. A deodorant wont help in this stage because u wont have enough space to take it out and spray it on ur fellow passengers. In this stage mostly there wont be place for u to keep both ur feet on the ground. So u must necessarily keep it on someone’s feet. And don’t even dare to try to get ur ticket on ur own. If u value ur life and limbs pass the money for the ticket. This stage can get really really worst during peak summers when everyone is sweating and the stench is unbearable. And after u get down at ur stop it will take u atleast 5 minutes to collect urself and even after that all u can manage is a hobble back home.

What can I say. This is the worst stage by far. Personally I have never been inside a bus during this stage so I am not qualified to write much about it. When this bus arrives at the stop it is at an angle of 75 degrees to the road (instead of the usual 90). The other two wheels of the bus are almost off the ground and the number of ppl inside the bus in the sitting stage will be equal to the number of ppl hanging on the foot board in the dead stage. I never board a bus in this stage. I value my life. I cant imagine how the people are able to survive

And with the ever increasing population (and with Mr. Murphy always being on my side) i never seem to find a place to sit or stand comfortably nowadays. Phew!! i love chennai but sathyama bus travel mattum thangala pa!!


ragesh said...

LoL! Cool one dude, pretty blatant, lol,. I have only seen buses go in the dead stage, and since the buses tilt as u said, I call it Mohanlal style, after the great Malayalam actor, who sometimes tilts as he walks during songs (Kalapani(Siraichalai) for example).. lol

Harish said...

Try travelling from Mount Road to Tambaram in A51 in peak hours.
You would consider writing a will very soon :-P

badari narayanan said...

A motorbike is the most fuel efficient vehicle for two people, mine runs close to 70 km a litre (I do not drive within the city much). The only drawback i can think of for frail women in using bikes is the weight. Though many flout road rules, still one can survive on Chennai roads.

logic said...

Chennai's buses are 'D BEST' in terms of service and 'D WORST' in terms of comfort.And recently MTC has gone for comfort too with those flashy orange(yikes) buses.. Those last 3(even 4!) stages you explained will be extinct in near future i guess.

In few areas buses are built with a 15-20 degree tilt on the right to manage the load so that its 90 deg when on road.Public transport has a long road to provide comfort to average passenger.

Savita said...

LOL LOL ...good one revs...
having travelled like that in chennai I think i can understand... Ive travelled the most by 38C to my aunts place and I dont remember sitting even once...
and not to mention all those gallis you get when you try to move a muscle..

every journey there is an adventure..

Pratibha said...

Well no matter what, Chennai's buses are definitely better than Delhi's...not that I have any first-hand experience with the latter, but I speak from observation ;).