Of rides you don’t know of

“I would like to tell my story,”
Said one of them so young and bold,
“I’d like to tell you my story
before I turn into gold.”
-Leonard Cohen


I didn’t like the sound coming from my right. It was plain irritating. The girl next to me was scratching her thumbnail with the other hand-scratching away the remains of her nail polish.

She got up to leave when the bus reached Baneshwor. And before she stood upright her long nails scratched my left hand. I mean it hurt me, literally. Dirt and disease that was what crossed my mind as the scratching was over in a jiffy. Now I have a fresh red mark as the evidence of the encounter with the stranger’s nails! The girl didn’t even notice. Grabbing, scratching, pushing, pulling−that’s what is called a ride in the public bus. Though, it would be hypocritical to say it’s ALWAYS the case. It is not.

There were three girls standing right in front of me who seemed to be new in the ‘public transport’ system of Kathmandu or rather new NY riders. They were discussing the NY route.

Where does it come from?

Patan?…I don’t know.

I didn’t correct them. No one else did either. Most times one person or the other on the bus will help you with such confusion but no one wanted to intrude the conversation today. And not all people in Nepal are supposed to know of ‘public vehicle system’ either. Or else we will have no one to slap others for a Mahindra Scorpio or travel in Tata Safari Dicors, Hyundai I10 , Boleros and the like. Something has to be written about Mahindra Scorpio-The Apple of Discord. Seriously, I must do it. But I don’t know when…. I mean if no ardent public transport vehicle user like me speaks up, who will? 😛 I don’t think any car-wallah or a bike-walla can even imagine how infuriating it is to even hear of such a thing in Nepal.Or can they? Nope. They can’t.

Mahindra Scorpio

Back to the girls. The one standing right in front of me had a key ring hanging from her jeans which included two burgers and a popcorn bag. The sight of the tiny burgers make me think ” Noooo. I don’t even want to see a burger early in the morning. Makes me want to puke”. One of them carried a huge plastic bag with something like get a Converse written on it. Maybe you get that if you buy an original I thought. But for every pricey branded product you have a cheap Chinese version I mused and smiled at my own purple Rs 400 converse lookalike.

Early in the morning, NY always has some lazy flies buzzing around. So, I had opened a tiny portion of the window to let out the flies. The man sitting next to me stretched his arm and closed it. I waited for another fly to come buzzing before I opened the window again. Then the guy took out an air-ticket from his bag for everyone around to see, himself included. Hongkong-Narita… He wore a white pair of shoes with D & G written on it. I had never seen such shoes before.
…………………………………………………………………………………..

A bus ride is never just a ‘ride’. It is an encounter with a random sample of people from the society we live in. It is a fresh collection of faces and experiences every day.

Who wouldn’t want to ride a Mahindra Scorpio? Of course ‘Nothing Else Will Do’ ! And who wouldn’t wish for ‘Reclaim you life’ Tata Safari Dicor when the huge hoarding board you see from a bus crammed with people headed for Purano Buspark says so? But hoarding boards are not real, are they? They are like hanging gardens looking down at you from somewhere high up in the skies telling you of ‘Vista View of Nepal’ and everything else there is to say to tickle the ‘consumer bone’ in you.

The bus is grounded. It’s the bare naked face of reality. It is the mélange of people who wear original Converse, the ones who wear Goldstar, the ones who come from districts for a checkup in Teaching, the ones who trade rice in Sanischare through a loud telephonic conversation and the ones who are dreaming of the ride in the Shinkanshen. It’s the life of the common ‘man’ that the morons who supposedly rule us have simply forgotten about.

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5 comments

  1. “A bus ride is never just a ‘ride’. It is an encounter with a random sample of people from the society we live in. It is a fresh collection of faces and experiences every day.”

    So true! I felt like I was traveling with you in the Nepal Yatayat bus while I was reading your account.

    Very few in Kathmandu can afford private vehicle and there are always problems for the owners too: petrol shortage, strikes, rising prices.

    The government of Nepal must invest in improving the public transportation system in Kathmandu valley. After all, it’s the capital city and face of the country apart from those tall mountains. The government should intervene and operate some bus in some routes in efficient manner. But I gues that would be too much of an expectation from the governments of the day.

    And I hope the scratching was harmless.

    1. of rides she knows of
      and of rides she is a part of
      and of rides is tired of
      and of rides she’s so much to write of…

      She must be a passenger.

  2. I am always in the last window aisle seat in the local Kathmandu- Banepa-Dhulikhel bus. That’s my cinema hall seat. Very good vantage point that. Feel like I can see the whole world from there.
    The whole trip lasts like 2 hours, with about 10- 15 minutes of stoppage in Koteshwore, Suryabinayak, Jagati, Banepa…

    And…. everytime I ride on the bus, there is a new story in there. But I can never take the story home, sit in front of the computer and type it out.
    That’s why I appreciate what you did. This really looks like You wrote the story in the bus, and did the grammar and synonyms corrections at home.
    really Great piece of writing.

    1. “It’s the life of the common ‘man’ that the morons who supposedly rule us have simply forgotten about.”

      ..well said!!.. of course its life of a common ‘man’…common story of our lives!

      But, I wonder: why do we always feel relieved after releasing our frustration over the ‘morons who supposedly rule us’?

      Yes, the ‘creatures’ sitting high in Singha Durbar seem to have forgotten us in many important aspects; but have they been really given enough time to think about us?

      I believe- blaming them over every petty issue further paralyzes them and worsens our own miseries.

      Have some pity over the ‘morons’!! ..they represent ‘us: at least as the ‘creatures’ of our own ‘species’!!

      Lastly, its not the government but our culture, upbringing, which is responsible for the behavior of the girl who hurt you on the NY bus.

      … and to be honest- I have no idea why NY got grounded!!

  3. got to your blog randomly while searching for smthng else in google..
    Must say, it had me hooked for a good hour!!!
    Awesome stuff…

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