Thursday, November 10, 2005

Waiting for the 65B

(This article was written ten years ago. See this post for an explanation)
Weather, they say is a universal topic, meaning, you could start a conversation with a perfect stranger by commenting on how hot Chennai is (which it was pretty much all the time). In the same way, here at HVF estate, you could start a conversation by just commenting on the bus service. All you need to say is, “Oh, this 65 B. It is never on time”, and you’ll find everyone around agreeing with you and you’ll even find a new friend. Thanks to the 65B my list of friends includes a teacher (whom I befriended during her B.Ed. days), a watchman from a neighboring college hostel, a couple of college students and people from different walks of life. This conversation that builds on the bus service sort of binds people together – people completely understand your plight and there is mutual sympathy between the people involved.
It is not that there aren’t enough buses on the route. On the contrary there are many, but then they go about either in pairs or in bunches. I have sometimes seen five to six buses go one behind the other in quick succession in a direction with not a single one to ply in the other direction for a solid two hours. Naturally in the seventh bus there would hardly be one or two passengers besides the driver and the conductor. Some people after waiting for some time at the bus stop start on a long walk to Avadi Circle. I confess that I really admire such strong willed people.
I, for one, can never bring myself to walk like that. Sometimes, I plan to start walking after waiting for ten minutes. But once the ten minutes is up I fear that the bus would come any moment and wait for about half an hour. After waiting for half an hour, I say to myself that a few more minutes of waiting would do me no harm and then I end up waiting for more than one and half hours. Once I decided to give walking a try – I congratulated myself on being strong willed and started marching towards Avadi Circle registering determination in every step. Of course, every now and then I would turn around to see if the bus was coming. When I was just about to turn around a bend, I was silly enough to look back and guess what, found the bus at the bus stop. That was it for me. I never again tried to do this walking to Avadi circle thing.
If you go through all this trouble and finally do manage to board the 65B you are in for a rude shock. You must see the condition of the bus to believe it. You see an array or metal frames for seats, some seats luckily do not have the back alone - you could sit but you couldn’t lean. If you had the misfortune to sit in a seat with the back intact you will invariably find a permanent brown coating added to the back of your shirt – this is because the transport crew believes that since the bus is public property, it is for the public to wipe the seats clean.
I once was witness to this amusing incident in the 65B: two passengers were sitting on a seat and when one of them got off at his destination, the seat tilted and the other passenger just fell. The latter – with the typical tolerance that one waiting for this bus service develops – got up, dusted his pants and then carefully sat in the middle of the delicate seat! Obviously the seat required two people of equal weight to balance themselves properly on the perch. And, should one of them get off, the other is required to have enough sense to move carefully to the middle of the seat.
If one starts worrying about the frequency of the bus service it would make one’s life miserable. What’ more, one’s BP would shoot up. How then do we cope with this inconvenience? Here is my solution: all you need to do is, instead of thinking that you are waiting for the 65B, suggest to yourself that you have come out of your house to enjoy a breath of fresh air and if you sincerely believe that you are enjoying yourself you will have a good time. G. K. Chesterton, the noted essayist, once said, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.” By taking such a view, I’m sure that you will not find waiting for and commuting by 65B a frustrating experience.

Satire on Bus service in Chennai

I identify myself as a Chennai vaasi. I spent a glorious 14 years of my life in Chennai to stake my claim to the coveted title. I do not know how many other Chennai Vaasis remember those days (about ten years ago) when every little corporation limit had its own "newspaper". Basically the newspaper was a small newsletter kind of stuff that was distributed free of cost. These newspapers had at the most one or two articles, a small ‘letters to the editor’ column, classifieds for people to wish each other on their birthdays, anniversaries etc., and the remaining vast majority of the paper was dedicated to advertisements (which was the whole point of the enterprise of bringing out this paper) by the local merchants. In Avadi we had the ‘The Avadi Post’.
I had always wanted to see myself in Print. When I was a teenager I was attempting to dash off articles to newspapers and magazines ( Young world of The Hindu and jokes to the Reader’s Digest – none of which go published), and the Avadi Post sounded as good as any other to try my luck. It was then that I wrote the following satirical article on the local bus service in Avadi. To my immense delight it got published. I am posting that article in my next post with a few modifications.
In order to follow this article, this is what you need to know: 65B is the only bus that connects HVF Estate (Heavy Vehicles Factory Estate) to the rest of Chennai. One could take the bus to Avadi circle to get connecting buses to the rest of the city. However, if one felt inclined to walk (one usually wouldn’t, what with the sun beating down mercilessly), a good half an hour to forty five minutes walk would take you to the main bus stand in Avadi circle. Ok, now, if you have the patience, you are ready to read the next post.

Hope to Post everyday

Today is as good as any other day to start blogging on a regular basis. What would I have to say every single day henceforth? I have no idea. But I am going to give this a try. I am very passionate about the Arts. I love to travel. I love to sketch during my travels. Here is a blog to share some of my artwork. Photography is very interesting. Moreover, it sometimes informs my paintings when I do not have time to make a quick on the spot sketch. I have always loved to write (is that not what drives most people to use the blog world?) - though it has been a while since I sat down to write anything creative. I would like to have this blog dedicated to spinning stories. This general blog will have pretty much anything that catches my fancy. I am crazy about music by Ilaiyaraaja and other classical giants such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Schubert and the like. But I do not quite have the vocabulary necessary to describe the creation of these great masters. I might attempt to describe how I feel when I listen to some of them in my general blog. That is it for now, let me think about the next post I need to write....