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.