All those people mentioning “TRAVELLER” and “DREAMER” with brimming pride in your tinder and Instagram bio- you need to bring it to hault! If you think that traveling is about climbing the rocks, trekking the Himalayas, diving in the ocean and being lost amidst the desert, then let me introduce you to another lesser acknowledged dimension of traveling – the journey from home to work. If you believe dreaming is being high “allegedly, on life” then your’s are in a desperate need of being shattered. The journey to the workplace may sound monotonous but it is a real kind of adventure minus all the fun. My dad just won’t agree to drop me to work (he even shouldn’t) and I fucking didn’t bother to learn to drive (I should have), so here I am stuck on a daily voyage of 2 hours all by myself but never quite left by myself (introducing the public transportation!). The schedule says- 10 minutes of walking from home to bus stop, 1 hour 15 minutes in bus, 40 minutes in autorickshaw and 15 minutes in another autorickshaw. It doesn’t even sound simple no matter how hard I wait to reveal the adversities, but it also leaves me awestruck at times.
Okay! Talking about the atrocities first- the crowd. It is impossible to board at first and once I manage to hop on I am welcomed by really irritated gaze. The reason behind this kind of acceptance is that the men might need to give away their seat, the women find a fellow competitor to get hold of a place to sit (challenges start early, don’t they?) and the crowd inside gets one more face to bare. Anyhow, ignoring the glare I push through the crowd and manage to find a place to stand. There is no space to breathe. Strangely the fresh air of early morning or the petite dusk is replaced by the stinky armpits. Buy deodorants people! I would not be making my point clear if I don’t mention the continuous gaze at boobs (by both genders) and the occasional boob grabbing (men, majorly) followed by “Oops, sorry madam. Bheed bhot hai!”. In that crowd more men have secretly grabbed my thighs than I ever plan to be with. Astonishingly, I can’t ever find out who these jerks are. I have not adapted to this yet. No woman ever can. It makes me extremely uncomfortable and figedty to an extent that now I jump a little even when someone taps my shoulder and asks me to get a little aside.
Well, it is said that when in darkness look for the stars. I think I’ve found mine! I have made a few friends. These are the people who themselves travel to work around the same time as I do. If I manage to be in time, I get to see them and these are the only faces that smile at me. Their smiles make my day. My first friend is a fifty-ish uncle who lives somewhere around my house but I had no clue. He helps me find a seat everytime he can. He has told me a lot of stories about his daughter and shares life lessons occasionally, especially the things his daughter wouldn’t listen to. Another friend of mine is a woman in her fifties (I guess). She is loud and cranky and mocks everybody on the bus occasionally, except me. I think she loves me. She is lonely. Her only son lives in US and cannot return due to certain circumstances and her husband left her long time ago. She is strong and independent. She whines about people in the bus and the conductor but never had she bickered about her life. She narrates her sad tales to her only audience but with a strange sense of pride. She never hesitates in yelling. Surprisingly, her sarcasm amuses the entire bus, except the frequently targeted conductor and driver. One conductor in particular never says anything at her face but bursts out the moment she steps off. That is when I know she is impactful. She doesn’t need her son to support her. Her persona is her rescue from oldage.
During the initial days of traveling a guy pushed through the crowd for me when he saw how much I was on the verge of panicking. This makes me believe in kindness and look for hope. I asked for the directions so as to reach the destination when I get down and a lot of people were willing to answer my query way better than google maps. That makes me trust people. The next day, a girl who’s face was covered by a dupatta to keep away from the tan asked me if I reached the place the previous day. I couldn’t recognize her at first but then she mentioned that I was reading a novel sitting next to her and had asked for directions. This teaches me to care and also to observe.
I started writing this piece with a grumpy face and in a fuck-this-challenge mode but right now I am ending this with a smile. The journey makes me realize that I am growing up and so are the people around me. I never thought this is from where I’ll be picking up my life lessons!