10 October, 2011

Public Transport 101

Having used public transport, intermittently, for around 6 years now, I have observed that there is a certain pattern, a procedure to be followed, a path, rules which been laid down.
Oh, mortals of public-dom, adhere to them or be a small bleating goat at the altar of unbearable crowds and peak hour travel.

1)    The process starts from the very moment you see the bus approaching; hitch you backpack/jeans/skirts up (people might just end up pulling it off in their hurry), make sure your dupatta/stole isn’t around your neck (you run the risk of being strangled) and make very sure that your wallet/purse is in a very secure place (you KNOW why. If you don’t, go save enough to buy your own transport, buses are not for you). And more importantly, poise yourself to launch your person into the bus the moment it comes to a halt (you don’t even have to wait for it to stop completely). Seconds count, mind it.

2)    ‘Reserving’ (for lack of a better word) seats is not like when you book a flight ticket where the hostess takes your boarding pass and leads you, with a smile, to your seat and asks you if you want imli candy.
Think more on the lines of members of the feline family, the big ones, ripping apart the gazelle, whose neck they broke, fighting for dinner. Here, gazelle dinner = seat. You get the point.

Any object, pens, bags, shoes, socks, handkerchiefs, underwear (of questionable sanitary standards) etc found on the seat need to be taken as a sign that the seat is taken and any attempts to sit anywhere near will be taken as an excuse to start a loud, fish-market-like brawl. Keep away if you want to keep your anonymity in the crowd. Pick another seat, preferably window, and choose to ignore the rest of the world until you arrive at your destination.

3)    If, after all your efforts you fail to procure a seat, make sure you do not go anywhere near the middle portion of the bus. You are a woman? Stick to the front, preferably as close to the drivers’ seat as possible. Unless, of course, you want the local law college men boys staring at your chest (what’s new), contemplating with each other (loudly) what school you go to (!?) and exercising their vocal chords with the sole intention of impressing you with their rendition of the latest kuthu song that goes ‘adraadranaakumooku’ (I don’t know, don’t ask). Or if they consider you pretty enough, you might just get treated to ‘Kalyanam than kettikitti odipolama’ (Google the song for the rest of the lyrics, if you care).
True story.
Remember, closest to the driver.
(He’s harmless to you for he usually has his own regular groupies to flirt with at particular stops).

4)    Also, in case you have to stand, make sure you stick your elbows out and look straight out of the windshield. If you don’t, you’ll just be crushed into a grainy keema and you’ll have to call somebody to scrape you off the floor/bars of the bus.

5)    Have the exact change ready; keep extra coins in Re.1, 50p, 25p, 10p etc. I can’t stress this enough for if you don’t have the EXACT amount and you get stuck in a bus that has an irate conductor (who had a brawl with his wife/mistress about his drinking/eating/social/working habits), that’s Armageddon for you in the form of tickets.

Keep your hand extended in his general direction till he chooses to acknowledge it. If you don’t, he’ll just yell at you like you were trying to cheat your way to the stop. Save yourself the embarrassment and keep it extended, wont you.

When he snatches takes the money from you, tell him with precision and clarity where it is that you want to go. Also, how many tickets exactly you want (doesn’t matter if there isn’t a single soul on the bus with you, you still specify ONE TICKET). In case you fail to do either of these, aforementioned chances of being embarrassed come to play.

6)  If you’ve gotten onto the bus with your guy/girl, brace yourself for perpetual stares. It’ll feel like they almost expect you to start taking your clothes off and do it right there or atleast start groping. Also, be prepared for the ‘Tch, tch’ from the nosy aunties who immediately start discussing the ‘youth today’, your moral character, value system and your parentage (this is one of the points I was referring in 6 where you shouldn’t react). They will invariably end the conversation with what an angel their husband/their daughter is. Now, if you have the good fortune of knowing that the husband has been spending quality time with their bai or that the daughter is in love with the mochi and planning a getaway, you’re allowed one snort. One.
7)  Consider wearing Chanel No.6, Brut, Axe and Dove all together before you even think of getting on a bus; you will need it. Trust me when I say you don’t want me to elaborate on this one. Also, practise holding your breath for long periods of time, in case you get stuck between the aunty who smells like she just finished cleaning the septic tank (which consisted of dead rats as well) herself and the uncle who has memory lapses about his last bath (which was three years ago, today). In case, you faint, keep emergency contact numbers on your person.

Also, after reaching home consider taking one bath outside the house with Dettol and one inside with cologne.

8) Ignore all kinds of contact. Most importantly eye contact. Let them stare if they want to, you have your music.
It might lead to inquisitive, inappropriately personal questions like if you’ve tried hash, if you’ve a boyfriend and if you’ve made out with him in the local park, if your parents are divorced etc.
True story, again.

9) If you don’t understand the local language, then all is well. If you do, even in bits and pieces, don’t listen to conversations around you. If you do, don’t react to them; don’t laugh, snort or get pissed. And NEVER reply. My suggestion? A good pair of earphones which cancel out all external noise and an iPod with a minimum of 25 favourite songs upwards, depending on your travel time.

10) In case (after all my warnings) you do get into a situation where you’re pitted against the fattest, ugliest, smelliest woman on board, do NOT argue back. For she’ll make you look like a spoilt, rich brat (doesn’t matter that your father is a middle class istriwala) who is disrespectful, bitchy and careless. And the rest of the bus will revel in the scene of your humiliation. Suggested course of action: pretend you don’t understand human forms of communication. Better still, pretend that you’re verbally impaired. She’ll decide that you’re not fun enough to rape verbally and move on. 

One last thing, please make sure you stand near the door at least a stop before yours and crane your neck out in order to prevent having to flail your arms like a goddamn marionette doll after the driver decides to skip your stop and drop you 3 kms from where you wanted to get down in the first place.

P.S: Do note that my experience is limited to TNSTC and the occasional KSRTC.

Originally written for Spiff but posted here because 
1) She gets something else.
2) I've too many aches and pains to type anything new out.

And sorry about not replying to previous comments, please bear with me until I can move my body parts normally again.


  1. Hahahahaahhaha... Naice... :) Its the same story everywhere dear.. Abt the post.. Detailing... 10 on 10.. All steps covered.. 10 points again.. Warning points included.. Bonus 5 points.. Tips for in case situations.. Again another bonus 5 points.. Its a full on from my end..!! :D and the deo thingy.. God so true.. Sometime u feel pins being inserted to your brain through your nostrils.. And you advent included the sleepy heads... Sit next to them and you end up having a head to support and droll to clean up from Yourself... I now kinda enjoy these happenings in buses.. Conditions apply... It Provides a quick view of variety of people and typical characters :):)

  2. little bit funny but ur observations are almost correct.

  3. A very good guide that applies to all forms of public transport, be it bus or train. If I have to catch a bus I just sit in a window seat and blast some tunes like you suggested.

  4. nice one. One more thing. Avoid sitting next to any middle aged chap unless you have pointed instruments like safety pins, compasses etc.. Else you will get Thondal pichal etc...

  5. That's a thorough 101, I must say! And quite a lot applicable throughout India! :)

    ♡ from © tanvii.com

  6. you know, while I was going through the post, I was imagining myself wearing a helmet and armor and sergeant peevee shouting instructions at me at the top of her voice :P

  7. aw man! Its been like yeaaaarrss since i've traveled in a KSRTC bus.. :P... but when i'm really really forced to use the bus, i take the volvo.. i don't care if its expensive, but i'd take that anyday than the normal smelly bus!..

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  9. @ Supernick, :D thank you for all the points!
    And yes, yewww. I forgot about them. But being a girl and not a very frequent traveller, I don't encounter them much.
    Yeah, they are real good modes of people watching:D

    @ Jidhu Jose, 'almost'?

    @ Mark, you haven't been in India public transport have you? You should:D Add it to your list of 101 things to do before I die.

    @ Sunitha, :D lol, true. Gross, that.

    @ Tanvi, thank you!:)

    @ The Guy In The Mirror, the tone says it all eh:P Sergeant PeeVee has quite a ring to it, I must say:D

    @ Phatichar, :P

    @ Viya, you have Volvos for intra-city transport?!

  10. yes!! :) :) I seriously can't thank the local transport wale for introducing them! :D :D ...
    Come down sometime! :D :D we'll go on the bag hunt! :D

  11. @viya : oh yeah.. Volvos are anyway a better option.. Forget the cost.. In Bangalore and its long traffic jams.. Its worth any day

    @Pee Vee : volvos and merc buses too...!! Yup.. We are spoilt with choices.. :p:D

  12. Every word was like I was "right there doing that"! Super.... Totally agree with all the points and especially 7 n 10!!
    Enjoyed reading it

  13. Bang on the money DK and here you were skeptical as to how this would be received.

    You've painted a hilarious yet accurate picture of public bus transport system. Spilled my morning coffee at the part where GF-BF couple are judged by onlookers and the part where you've mentioned the stinky co passengers.

    Now, if this isn't proof enough that you can write humor then I don't know what is?

    Cheers :)

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  15. And this is why I got a car... lol

  16. I loved the picture of coins oh my so old how did you manage to get hold of all of them .. the 2 paisa and 1 paisa coins ..

    Public transport well college times were fun standing on the door he he he hanging with just one foot on ..

    I dont think i could do it now


  17. what an amazing sense of observation and presentation girl!
    to tell you the truth, before i ventured into the reading i thought it would be another pointer post...but you whipped it up with so much humour n fun-the songs serenaded when stared at your chest, ONE TICKET please, wearing all the perfumes together..hehe:-)

    i wish for u better experiences in future so that there are no more such "true stories":-)

  18. Hahahahhaha BANG ON!!!
    My college is at Churchgate but I catch a train from CST and there's just one bus running between. So yeah, even before the bus stops, everyone's rushing, pulling pushing abusing and what not!
    In the train,yeah, if you take somebody's bag and sit in that place, you are SO dead -_- They'll start shouting at you like you've stolen their gold.Just because they travel regularly in that train ka that compartment ka that seat with their group who'll obvi back them up. Ugh :/
    Even I try to go in the front of the bus only. Or else all these perverts just find an excuse to you know rub up against you and all such rubbish!
    YES! Once I gave that conductor 10 rs ka note and he just wouldn't give me 4 rs back :o And he did give change to some aunty. All young ppl are not spoilt brats re :(
    Hahahaha yeah! Just 2-3 weeks ago, when I was out with my guy, all these uncle aunty stare like just the way you've described :P Idiotic people only!
    My college is like 1 and a half hour far if I travel by train,but have to catch a bus to the station and from my destination station to college. While going it's okay but while coming back, it's rush hour. And all kinds of yucky smells you get to experience :|
    Someone who's put over over ka baap over perfume seems like such a big god sent gift at that time :P
    Superb post :D

  19. You know what PeeVee? We should collaborate on a 'How to' book. Seriously! :D

  20. Hahaha!!! So true!! I decided I would not travel by bus ever, because I landed in a situation where my face and somebody's armpit had a not too promising conference.. nowadays I mostly walk n I am also a cisco certified bike hitch hiker :D

    Brilliant analysis btw.. u really covered almost everythin bout bus travel :)

  21. hehe i like spiff's idea!
    I was nodding my head like crazy to every single point....
    This is exactly why I gave up on public transportation. I stick to my car now... but even that has its share of problems!

  22. Hahahaha!! So true especially in Coimbatore!! Was travelling in a bus few days back, and my stole actually pulled away a woman with her watch :D!! Was quite embarrassing but funny seeing the lady run behind asking me to wait!!! And yes, they do stare like we have killed their parents when we are sitting next to our guy, or even are engrossed in the music from our phone or ipod!! So much for minding our own business!!

  23. Public transportation?Ain't that the stuff people never tire of writing horror stories about????:-D

  24. Oh Man so true. I always drag myself to the front seat of the bus everytime i get in one. Even if i get no place, i stand all the way till my stop because i am sure that if i ever go beyond the third seat. some guy will wink at me or try his luck on me. Ahem!!
    These conductors and drivers are no good too :(

  25. seriously public transport is muccccch better in Mumbai! The conductor and his mood tantrums regarding the change and all are still the same so are the smelly experiences! But guys (correction men) singing and the gossio aunties are hardly there *touchwood*
    I travel in bus 4 times a day to and fro college! So public transport is where i spend most of my time and yes they have given me good story characters ;)

  26. @ Viya, wow. Consider yourself blessed girl:D
    And sure, we soooo need to:D

    @ Supernick, brats:D

    @ madouthere, welcome here, first timer na?:)
    Thank you so much...

    @ A.S, isn't it a bit too long and a bit draggy at times? Honesty man.
    And hope the coffee is fine? *concerned look*
    Thank you! *bright smile*

    @ Muhammad Israr, different partitions? Wow. We should totally have that, will make our lives so much more easier!-_-

    @ Hazel, ah, I wish I had my own. In India, a majority of us get our own cars only after we start working ourselves *sigh*

    @ Bikram, Sakshaat Google helped:) A lot.
    o_O That is SO dangerous.
    You shouldn't either.

    @ Suruchi, nothing at all compared to the way you write Madame, but thank you so much:)
    And yes, I could use better 'true stories':D

    @ Blahblaholic, thanks love, wow those are a lot of public transport stories:)

    @ Divya, we should?:D Yeah, we should!!

    @ Raj, Yeeeewwww:D "not too promising conference" loved that bit:P
    Hitch hiking, that is one thing I should try. What about a few pointers";D

    @ Chandana, then you be the editor, whatsay?:D
    Traffic, I s'pose:D
    Life - an unending saga of problems:P

    @ Deeps, UGH. Don't get me started, this was the decent version of events. Cbe is full of weirdos-_-

    @ Rahul, well, aren't 'empathy' and 'relating' the essence of blog reading and commenting?:P

    @ Red, oh yeah, the driver who asked you for your number?:P

    @ Maithili, then consider yourself blessed:D
    And we're still waiting for the next part *tapping foot impatiently*

  27. Ah public transport! I hated buses in Bombay due to most of what you mentioned and the added groping by men. Loathed it!!! PReferred trains only because there were ladies compartments. But even on the trains, you'd have the smelly ones, the staring women and some of waht you've mentioned. Sigh...

    Loved your take on the public transport.

  28. hahahaha!! Loved it! Just loved it! And it is true of te KSRTC buses as well! And the DTC ones too... gues thats the one binding factor across the diverse country!

  29. Yo PeeVee, mast post, ekdum! :D
    Fortunately, I've never experienced Public Transport on a regular basis! So, can't relate to it exactly, but yes! The post was hilarious! Keep it coming! :D :D

  30. An interesting post and gave a feeling of actually being on board the bus! Well written!

  31. Oh, mortals of public dom, adhere to them or be a small bleating goat at the altar of unbearable crowds and peak hour travel.

  32. //@ Rahul, well, aren't 'empathy' and 'relating' the essence of blog reading and commenting?:P

    A toast to that!!!!:-)

  33. oohhh.. may be east, west, north or south.. its the same story everywhere...
    But trust me.. In North India.. the seat near the driver or the conductor is the worst place... there are such ass hole conductors who tries to touch you in the buss (you know where) :( :(

  34. Hey! You've got some good reads here! You blog about general things, and it's nice to read. unlike typical personal blogs. I'm a blogger myself too! It's great seeing someone who blogs with a similar mind set as me! Keep them going :) I'm Nia, from Malaysia by the way! http://thevaguelife.blogspot.com/ Here's my blog. Do read it sometime when you're free.

    Yes, I'll be tuning in to your posts! Definitely.

  35. @ Psych Babbler, thanks milady:)

    @ Nirvana, unity in diversity indeed:P

    @ Paanipuri Lover,:D I love the tone you say that! Or rather the tone I imagined you saying that with:D

    You should, just once:P For it takes all kinds to make up life:D

    @ Rahul Bhatia, thank you Sire:)

    @ Packers Movers, you liked that or hated it? o_O

    @ Rahul, CHEERS!!:D

    @ Madhulika, bwah, sounds yuck:|

    @ Nia, welcome girl:) glad you like my wee lil space!
    Thank you so much for dropping by:)

  36. THe comment button is not there in your latest post the poem ..


  37. Arre, you dunno! I'm toh dying to go to a different city, killer college, jhakaas hostel, etc. But my parents wanna keep me close. They're not letting me go only. There's this condition, I've promised them to stay with them for my bachelors only if they allow me to go out of my city, rather, state for my Masters degree. And the tone you are picturing, yes, that is the tone, the way I say it.! :D :D

  38. This post had to be TANGY TUESDAY PICKS, great work there PeeVee :)

  39. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I am happy to find so many useful information here in the post, we need develop more strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  40. @ Paanipuri Lover, LOL, I get it. They mean well but they don't realize that it's not the best way for us to find our feet.

    @ Ashwini, thanks:D

    @ Animesh Ganguly, thanks man!

    @ septic tank pumping alpharetta, erm thanks:)

  41. hmmm now the turn comes...!!
    does anyone dare to board a Hyderabad city bus ha?

  42. Love this post! Have traveled in the public buses for enough number of years to agree to all the pointers!!


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