Revisiting an old story of a Volvo bus ride in Bangalore …
So this happened today while returning from work. I boarded an airport Volvo. Airport Volvos have a strange warmth to them. People heading back home, or people visiting the city to meet their kids or parents or friends. There is always a sense of comfort in strangers that I have felt. I was thinking about all this while I heard a sudden THUD! And realized that our bus has hit a rather long car, I think it was an Etios, and it had those private taxi names written on it rather unaesthetically. As it happens, the cab driver was a young kid with earphones and came lashing at the reluctant driver-conductor staff. The young driver was quite the common ones we have seen, but I just loved the bus duo. I used to think I am low on aggression and high on indifference, and then there were these two. Absolutely calm and unconfrontational about the whole affair. The kid went on rambling and these two were in their own orbit, sometimes listening sometimes nodding and sometimes silently chuckling.
Slowly the passengers started showing signs of a quiet rebellion, a mild inconvenience and an organized attack. I was in none of these groups. I was still occupied with what Steely Dan was saying in my ears, it was probably “Do it again”. Quite apt I must say.
The group was a mixed lot- old North Indian couples travelling to visit their kids, random North Indian guy who seemed slightly enraged by this event, a North Indian family with 1-2 kids and a mom that looked like she could smack the entirety of this afternoon in its snarly face. Notice the emphasis on North Indian, it was that kind of day and that kind of bus.
One aunty was so unsettled by this mild accident, that she kept asking me to move my bag, first to the front seat, then back at the side seat, then at the front seat. In a little while I realized this is her stress fighting mechanism, and was glad to help while moving on to the next Steely Dan song.
Meanwhile the fight had….NOT heated up. It was still a clockwork of back and forth’s. But with some more people randomly entering the bus now, it suddenly felt like more was at stake here. It could have escalated into a national issue any second.
The bus duo and the taxi kid were negotiating on a deal now, he wanted 2000, and they were stuck at 500 rs, for damaging his headlights. Suddenly the UP uncle corrected them, Headlight nahi indicator! And everyone laughed unbiased for 10 seconds precisely.
The deal couldn’t reach a conclusion, and the passengers became more agitated, the lady with the kids was rolling up sleeves of her sleeveless kurta, the middle age loner North Indian guy with a Metallica t-shirt on kept giving some advice in a hushed tone, and the aunty still kept making me move by bag from seat to seat. I was but a Zen observer to this divine dance of furies.
We soon all drove to the nearby Police Station, and were made to testify on the incident. Suddenly the mild looking populace turned all Braveheart. It was a Titanic turn of events, if you will. We had to pick sides. Given my love for the bus duo, and the camaraderie they displayed while hitting the taxi in the rear reminded me of Starsky & Hutch, or Butch Cassidy & the Sundance kid, Step Brothers, and many other buddy films, I had to confess they were innocent. Probably the first thing I had said since I boarded the bus. Oops, did I say too much?