LFB #2 – That Bus Ride

It was just another day. As usual, my 5 friends and I boarded the bus from our hostel to work. It had been around 2-3 weeks since we had landed at Bangalore. The city was becoming less alien and was fast losing the “Wow!” factor in our eyes as was evident by our choice of local bus over the AC-fied, extremely sleek-looking BMTC buses. Being the responsible adults that we are, we preferred skimping 20 bucks by compromising on our level of comfort so that we can hit the Commercial Street and blow up twice the amount we have saved on shoes that we’ll never wear and books that we’ve already read. Like I said, responsible adults and all.

Back to my story. So here we were, in the local bus, cramped between a cute girl with a nose-ring and enough perfume to drown out the stench from the nearby gutter & an aunty with long, loose hair which, I know not how, kept finding its way into my mouth. The conductor came in and I gave him the customary 10 Rs. And as was the practice, he didn’t give me the ticket. My friend, who asked for the ticket was dismissed with a shrug and some muttered words (most probably, it was Kannada). Nothing unusual in that. In Bangalore, you get tickets only in the above-mentioned sleek-looking BMTC buses.

In the next stop, the aunty with long, loose hair that kept getting into my mouth (and tastes disgusting, btw) got down only to be replaced by a kakhi-wearing uncle. He came in and asked the cute-girl-with-the-nose-ring for her ticket. She promptly explained that she had already paid but was not issued a ticket by the conductor. She looked towards our conductor, who looked rather frightened and said that since she didn’t give him 2 Rs. change, he had not given her a ticket. On hearing this, the kakhi-clad conductor said (in Kannada) “Alright then. Travelling without a ticket is a crime. Pay Rs.140 as fine.”

And thus started the drama.

Within seconds, the cute-girl-with-the-nose-ring turned to a Kannada-spouting version of the girl that the author of the lines ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ had in mind. She went on and on in full steam, alternately shouting at the conductor (who, by now, was feebly trying to say “she did take a ticket”) and volubly refusing to pay the fine. And with good reason. Apparently, she HAD given the prefixed amount of Rs.12. The conductor, in order to slip that amount into his pocket, had not accepted that 2 Rs. and not given the ticket too. This, we later came to know, was a common trick in local buses.

In between all this hungama, that girl somehow got down at her stop and the kakhi-clad conductor turned his fury towards us. We explained, rather tried to explain, that we had paid the amount and didn’t receive the ticket. But the kakhi-clad conductor wouldn’t listen to any of it. He kept on saying “Fine of Rs.140, fine of Rs.140” By then, in true Kannada movie style, another kakhi-clad conductor got onto the bus and blocked the back door to prevent us from getting down at our stop. As things started getting a bit ugly, one of my friends (who, incidentally, is the perfect example for the quote ‘appearances can be deceptive’) suggested that we pay up, only to be silenced by 5 pairs of Bharatanatyam-style stares.

By now, the kakhi-clad conductor had started scolding us in Kannada. Not to be left behind, we retaliated in a mix of Hindi, English and Telugu. Next he came up with a “brilliant” idea – we pay up the fine, he’ll question the conductor ‘properly’ and if our claims were found to be true, he’d send us back the money to our address!

When we refused to give our address after repeated ‘instructions’, he took out the ‘Brahmastra’.

“Take the bus to the police station,” he shouted, rather dramatically.

“Alright then, take the bus to the police station”, we retaliated.

This went on for a few minutes. By this time, all the locals in the bus, with the exception of a gentleman (alright, a good-looking gentleman. Gawd! Just let me get on with my story, will you?) who worked at UST Global and had supported us right from the beginning, had started getting pissed off with us and the drama. Unable to withstand the pressure, the kakhi-clad conductors made our bus conductor pay Rs.720 as fine right before us, and let us go. Finally.

So the moral of the story? If you get into a bus at B’lore, before you give the money, always ask “Ticket kodi..”  Might save ya quite a bit of trouble later on, you know.

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Blog Addiction!

Recently, a few of my friends asked me to recommend a few blogs, probably since I gush about “that post..!” every other day or so. Not just that, they seemed rather curious as to how I got into this habit of waking up and checking my WordPress reader quite like how I check ‘The Hindu” and ‘Mathrubhumi’.

Alright then, I’ll wait till you’re done laughing.

Done? Okay. So like I was saying, try as I might, I can’t recollect the day I got addicted to reading blogs. It’s kinda like some of those friendships we have – the one where neither of you can remember how (or when) you started hitting off. All you know is that one day you woke up… and bam! You were best friends. Now before I go off topic again as I am prone to (but you know that already!), I’d love to share with ya’ll some of those blogs that has kept me up quite a few nights and still has me craving for more.

  1. SHE in China: I’ve written about this blog many a time simply because it is THE best one that I’ve ever read. Jonna Wibelius (yeah, it took me a few days to get that right too), the Swedish author of Seen, Heard and Experienced in China has this amazing style of writing – though the blog is basically about her life and experiences in China, her readers often get a glimpse of life in Sweden and Australia (arguably two of her fav places) as well. Usually travel blogs include long explanations on the wonders of the Forbidden City or the story behind the Great Wall of China. But Jonna wrote about actual life there – about the cost of living, the process of apartment hunting, finding a gym, snippets of conversations with taxiwallas and her attempts of learning Mandarin among other.
  1. The Shooting Star: Another fav travel blog. Yup, I’m a bit obsessed with those. The Shooting Star is written by Shivya Nath, who describes herself as (and I quote) “Just a girl who travels”. That she does and how! To travel solo and “live with the White Thai tribe in a remote Vietnamese village, hitch-hike along Turkey’s Black Sea coast, swim with black-tip sharks on Malaysia’s east coast, spend a night in the highest inhabited village of the Himalayas” among many other memorable moments – not everyone’s cuppa tea. Apart from the mind-blowing pictures and Shivya’s very visual style of writing, the reason I adore TSS is how every trip she writes about is easily replicable by you and me (provided you have the will.) And as I’ve personally taken her advice many a time while booking a holiday, I’d say that Shivya knows what she is writing about.
  1. A Quest On Overdrive: Now now…how does one write about one’s own? Well, to be brutally honest, the only reason I started reading this one was ‘coz it was written by my former English teacher (Erm…actually she has never taught me in the conventional way, but that isn’t pertinent to the story). The first few posts I read didn’t mean all that much to me…don’t get me wrong – I liked what I was reading, but it was more of an ‘in awe’ kinda like. And then, to quote Hazel Grace, “As I read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
  1. Freebird: Now this one was recommended to me by one of the kindred spirits. I remember reading the very first post and rolling on the bed, doubling up with laughter. Tongue-in-the-cheek takes on current political scenarios, movies, trends…you name it, Alka Gurha has it. Occasionally, I have been surprised by a few nostalgic posts as well (Remembering Enid Blyton). Considering that she is a regular contributor for the Gurgaon Times, her sharp wits and list of accolades shouldn’t surprise you.
  1. Ashish Shakya: Now this one you might have heard of. Ashish Shakya is…well, he is a humour columnist for the Hindustan Times, co-writer on ‘The Week That Wasn’t with Cyrus Broacha’ on CNN-IBN and a stand-up comic. His ‘About me’ describes him as “Too lazy to type out full sentences.” I. Adore. His. Posts. Never politically correct, they make me laugh, think and laugh some more. That level of sarcasm – it’s a gift, I tell you.

 

So that’s a few of my favourite blogs. Any good ones that has caught your fancy lately? If so, do drop the link, will ya?

Happy reading!

Live From Bangalore

That tangy smell of coriander being sautéed…I’ve always associated that with the feeling of being at home. For there is little that says “Welcome home” like having your nostrils burned by the smell of spices. So here I am, another day, another place and yet, very much at home. Only this time, it’s my sister pottering around the kitchen, trying to whip up something edible from a mass of greens and pulses. Every time I look at her, I get this kinda maternal vibe…a sense of pride as if she is what she is because I am who I am. Does that make sense?

So here I am. New day, new place. The same old sense of excitement. But this time, there are no nerves. Bangalore seems as much home as Thrissur. Now how is that? I don’t know the language, the people… and considering the fact that I’m one of the most geographically challenged people existing on the face of earth, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t know any of the places too. And yet, my mind is at ease. There is something about Bangalore that welcomes you right in. It seems to have a place for you, whoever you are. And somehow, I have this gut feeling that life here isn’t gonna have as many peaks and ditches as life at Gandhinagar. Let’s see…

Meanwhile, I’d appreciate it if those of you who knows Bangalore like the back of your hand or knows someone who knows someone who knows Bangalore like the back of their hand lemme know about what to do at the so-called happening city of India. Good eateries (‘coz after all, food comes first), good music, fun places to hang out (which are, preferably, rather easy on the pocket)…anything and everything about the place. So do drop me a message with suggestions, wokay?

More on life here later. Go…have fun!