Pune Diaries

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The Bus Ride

A kid of 11 gets on a steel frame red color bus to go to school and goes on to sit on the only available seat on the bus. As the ticket conductor comes, the boy unperturbed, continues to sit. “Will you stand up? Cant you see that I have been moving up and down the whole time and you are continuing to sit on your seat showing your monthly bus pass?” The conductor asked the boy to stand up as he was quite young and could have stood up. Without making any fuss, the boy stood up. No sooner the boy stood up, the conductor burst into a laughter, asking the boy to sit down, telling him that he was only testing him. The young boy refused and asked the conductor to sit. Conductor was embarrassed and requested the boy to sit. The boy indicated that his stop is about to come and with a coy smile, got down at next stop.

I could not gather much from what they were saying as I could not understand Marathi but by their actions and reactions, I did understand that people here very simple and good-hearted.

Then there was this elderly couple, that boarded one day on a fairly crowded bus. It was a sort of cultural shock for me to see so many people to spontaneously stand up from their seat and offer their seat as if they were waiting for a long time to give up their seats.

This is really incredible.

I recently moved from Delhi and boy, what a place that was – Polar opposite. Leave alone the friendly banter, in most cases, it was as unfriendly as it could get and banter gave way to abuse. It is undeniably true that the local language of Delhites is cuss words. Not one sentence is completed without uttering a cuss word. So much for their sweetness. The words are as pure as the air of Delhi.

To expect someone to stand up and give up their seats in Delhi. Are you kidding me??? Be it a metro or a bus, a seat is as coveted as a seat in a college. People hold it to their seats like leeches!!!

Public transport, especially the local buses, are frowned upon by most of the people. I did not realize that of all the things in Pune, I would fall in love with the local buses.

Even here, people are still aghast and take a minute or two to digest when I tell them that I come to office by bus. First reaction is – “is this guy crazy or what???”, which is followed by “why is he cheapening out by undertaking such an ordeal??”

I have absolutely no idea why people hate the city buses. It’s an absolute pleasure to ride on the buses and something I look forward to every day. I travel from “outside of city” Pashan to core of city – Camp by bus. That’s a lot – some 12 kms. It takes not more than 35-40 minutes. To sit all the way till office – nothing like it. I do have to change the bus once but seat is always there for me. My boarding bus-stop is 50 feet away from my home and distance to office from destination bus stop is even lesser. This is at normal starting time of 8am.

Compared to Delhi, where I used public transport for a relatively same distance and starting at the same time, it was impossible for me to stand on my two feet, leave alone hoping for a seat. It took me not less than 1 hour by bus to reach office in Delhi.

The conductors I saw at change over bus stop are as diligent as any of the other Marathi people, I have seen so far – silently going about their business and helping out, when called for assistance.

Yeah, language remains an issue for me for now but the intent of the local people here leaves me with no doubt that this city has already made a good impression, that too, through its buses.

Lets see what new things city has in store for me and what new story the old red buses have to tell.

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