The Art of Travelling in Bangalore
It had only been about 3 months in Bangalore and who would have thought, we would have to visit the police station before our college staffroom.
Before coming here, we heard stories about the Bangalore police from other friends. They said that they never liked outsiders and if there was a case where you didn’t understand Kannada, you would be in a lot of trouble.
I was actually a little bit tensed about going to the police station because our parents weren’t here to help us and second, we were kind of involved in this situation. So I asked my roommate.
“Do you think we should maybe take a lawyer with us?”
“We can’t afford a proper masala dosa and now you want a lawyer. Also, it’s better not involving anyone, let’s try our best to solve this issue without anyone knowing.”
“Then, I would recommend getting to the police station fast, because those 2 right now, are in a police station surrounded by police officers, who don’t speak the same language as them.”
“Oh my God! I didn’t even think of that. If they try to talk their way out, the next thing we know is probably that we were booked as terrorists.”
We rushed to find an auto and that is when another Bangalore tip came to mind. Never ever call autos in Bangalore, unless you are filthy rich. Sometimes the autos charge as much as your monthly hostel rent, I’m being serious.
There was this one time, where I took an auto from Shanthi Nagar to a hockey stadium, which is like 3 to 4 km. When I asked how much, the guy said, “First-month hostel fees”. No joke. So autos were out, the next thing was rental scooters.
They were affordable but there was this deposit to be paid at first use and we didn’t have money for that. So, that was also out of the question. Finally, we agreed on BMTC, Bangalore’s own bus service.
Coming from Kerala, we thought no bus drivers in any part of the world would scare us because taking a bus in Kerala is like a roller coaster ride without the safety straps, you will enter the bus but there is no guarantee you will leave the bus in the same way as you got in.
But here in Bangalore, the situation was different. It wasn’t the bus you had to be scared of, it was the people on the bus. The rush hour during Bangalore is in a league of its own. We got on the bus which was at its first stop, so there were a lot of empty seats. 2 stops later the bus was filled. Another stop later, there wasn’t even any standing space left in the bus, another stop later you couldn’t see out of the window of your bus because your face was being squished by some uncle’s briefcase.
Our stop was here and I was in the corner, squished like a bug against the window and my friend who I couldn’t even see but could hear his distant screaming…
“Bro, I’m being crushed. Tell my mother, I love her. I don’t think I’ll make it out of here”.
Never in my life had I seen such a crowded bus. Well, I can’t say I saw it, because my eyes were forced shut by someone’s brick-hard briefcase. Usually in a crowded bus when you have someone pushing up against you, what you do is you push back slightly, which shows you are a little uncomfortable and the person will then make some effort to move at least a little out of your way.
But this was no usual situation, in order to push back I had to move my body, but my body here was squished into a state of paralysis, I had only some motion left in my mouth. I was like Stephen Hawking, without the brains, or the money, or a degree from Oxford…Yah, I wasn’t like Stephen Hawking, I was just like a squished bug.
Our stop had passed we had to get out somehow or god knows where we would have reached in 1 hour. There was no other way but to start yelling.
“Stop the bus!”
My roommate also chipped in, we both started yelling our throats out and somehow the bus stopped. Everyone looked worried like something bad happened. The conductor comes up and asks, “What happened? What happened?”
“Can’t you see? I can’t even breathe. I’m being squashed like a bug here man!”
Some other guy on the bus replies.
“Boy! We’re all getting squished, you don’t see us yelling about it.’
“Bro, our stop has passed, we’re new to Bangalore. Me and my friend, who I must add are missing somewhere on this bus, I actually don’t know if he’s even alive..”
In a broken voice, “I’m over here”.
“…he’s alive, we just want to get out.”
“Just get out both of you, wasting everyone’s time.”
Like how Moses parted the seas, people suddenly made space in the bus, it was magical. We both got out and it literally looked like we just survived a crash landing.
That’s when I realized this was normal! This is how life revolved in Bangalore, there was nothing to be done other than getting used to this.
My roommate was looking extra beaten. I asked him,
“Bro, where were you stuck?”
“I was trapped under this aunty. I was sitting in my seat minding my own business, this aunty comes up, who’s completely caught up on her phone talking to someone about how her daughter in law was such a cruel human being and that she was plotting to kill her.”
“You hear all that?”
“That’s not it, this lady was so concentrated on the conversation that she didn’t even realize I was sitting there, she goes on to sit on top of me!”
“What?!” I couldn’t control my laughter.
“I was trapped under a human being for almost 20 minutes and a bus full of people INCLUDING THE LADY SITTING ON TOP OF ME FAILED TO NOTICE!”
“That is Bangalore.”
– to be continued