May 16, 2008

One way or the other

My office is in Silk Board and I travel by bus everyday. There are two places I can alight, to get to work.

One is at the Silk Board traffic signal (Purple Line) and the Silk Board bus stop (Blue Line).

In the past, I have taken both routes. But I realized that there was a difference.

About the Signal

Background Details : The waiting time at this signal is close to 15 minutes. And when the signal changes to “GREEN”, only the first lot of the vehicles who are in the fore, get to move ahead. By the time, the second lot get near the signal, its “RED” and there starts the wait again.

Route 1 – Getting of at the signal

99% of the times I have gotten off here.

Now alighting here is not a safe option for the fact that most of the vehicles who have been zooming behind the bus, might not expect the passengers to get off.

However, this having become a routine, I guess all drivers are cautious when there is a bus ahead and don't try overtaking from the left side just to get ahead and wait for the signal :) and thankfully there have been no incidents in all the 2 years I have been traveling.

So I get off at this junction, walk till the signal, take a U Turn and cross the road. Then I go straight ahead and take the left at the bridge(over the drain). The entry to the bridge is a sudden big upward slope. In the rare rare event I bring my car, I maneuver very carefully on 1st gear.

So when I am at the bridge, I usually turn around and see that the bus I alighted from is still waiting for the signal to change.

Now the road after the bridge is so botched up that it cant be called a road actually. It is bumpy,has many ups and downs, potholes,stones and a drainage also on the side. It takes some skill to walk here., but it is an interesting road.

I once saw camels here. I have seen 2 cars skilfully try to drive along horizontally, failing which one backs off and lets the other move ahead.

Once during heavy rains, the dirty waters from the drainage were swirling here with such force that a colleague and I who held hands and braved that road, were waist deep in water and were thrown back many a time. And the lone electric pole was spewing sparks finally having gotten some attention after years of neglect.I thought I was going to die.That was some experience.

Ok so this walk on the "interesting" road lasts 15 minutes and I reach office. Now to the next route

About the Bus Stop

Background Details : If for some reason you are unwell some day and don't feel like walking, you could sit through the waiting time at the signal and choose to get of at the bus stop. So, after some 15 odd minutes, you are at the Silk Board bus stop.

Route 2 : Getting of at the bus stop

Getting off is the easy part. This road being very wide has a median dividing it.

This side of the road( on which the bus stop is situated) – just a little after the yellow coloured Silk Board icon on the map, has vehicles traveling towards BTM.

The other side of the road has vehicles going either straight to the Outer Ring Road; or taking the left to reach Madivala / Koramanagala.

It always has happened on all occasions when I have taken this route that I get to cross the road till the median very comfortably.

This is because of the signal which has all other vehicular movement to a halt. From this side of the road, I see all vehicles on the other side waiting patiently for their signal.

And just when I get to the median the waiting vehicles will start rolling and there will no moment of peace after that.

Just as the Silk Board Signal has waiting time of close to 15 minutes. These vehicles get a clearing time of some 20 minutes.

When I finally get to the other side, despite my not having walked much, I am exhausted after 15 minutes of sitting in the bus(@ signal). Add to it, standing on the median for another 20 minutes. Total waste of 35 minutes.

My Preference and Parallels

I prefer the Route 1 despite it being difficult because I know I am reaching my destination irrespective of the woeful road.

Route 2 is indefinite. My waiting time is indefinite. My temper is on its rise because all I am doing is waiting for the vehicles to stop; a situation thats not in my hands.

Life is similar. Its better to take the route where we we know we are in the right direction. We know we are getting there, even if it seems difficult at times, to continue walking to our destination.

Simply taking the easy route and waiting for things to fall in place, happens once in the rare event that we get fortunate. Its a once in a blue moon event. Enjoy it while it happens. But never expect it to happen every day without some hard work.

PS: I have removed the map. Will put a clear one with proper directions soooon :)

May 13, 2008

Mr.Krishnamurthi and the Bus Driver

I was crossing the inner ring road at Domlur junction when I saw the "201" bus amble by me. And I was thinking,If only there had been a door on the right side of the bus, I could have at least given a shot at diving inside the bus :)

I was hurrying towards the bus stand when I saw that the same 201 was still standing and though I could see a large number of empty seats, somehow the passengers were getting in very slowly.Imagine my surprise when I saw men standing all over the foot board and unable to get in smoothly when the bus was nearly empty.

By now I was determined that I should get inside the bus. As I was nearing the bus, it rolled slowly. And I was like, man I am not going to miss this one. And I increased my pace of walking.

Then I saw the reason why people were unable to get in easily. There was only one door to this bus. And there was no conductor, so the bus driver was having to issue tickets, take the fare and return the change, while also ensuring that he was not blocking traffic. He stopped a young man without correct change, from entering the bus.

I was the last but one to get inside the bus. After me an old man entered. He looked like a construction worker as he was carrying some tools.

My fare was 7 rupees and I did not have notes. I had a fifty. I asked him if he had change. He was irritated with all the tasks he had to do. And he gruffly said no. As I did not want to be asked to leave like the young man, so I started rummaging through my purse for any change I might have miraculously saved, all the while standing near the steel bar near the driver.

I was lucky. I got a 5 rupee coin and a 2 rupee coin. With a flourish, I took them out and took the ticket from the driver. The old man behind me wanted the 25 rupees day pass. He requested the driver if he could write down his name on it. His name was Krishnamurthi, I heard him tell the driver so.

The driver, overworked as he was, refused very rudely. Mr Krishnamurthi then said that he could not write and again requested the driver to write his name on the pass. The driver got abusive and said he did not give a damn if he could write or not, and asked him to get it written by some other passenger.

Mr. Krishnamurthi then spoke back in anger and told the driver that he was rude. Saying so, he went inside looking for a seat. Last, I saw him getting his name written by a co passenger.

I sat in peace. But I felt sorry for the driver, who might never experience the magic of a thankful smile.

The Tiffin Set

After I got off the "201" bus, I was walking towards my office when I saw a young man struggling with two really big tiffin cases. Now these are the traditional tiffin sets; with steel and circular containers (5-6 in number), being held on their sides. Something similar to the image above, but much much bigger.

These sets came upto my shoulder and I am 5 feet 2.5 inches. He had one of that variety in one hand and in the other he held a hand made basket containing some unwashed vessels. He had stopped and seemed to be taking some rest.

I could not imagine him carrying that weight any further and just then he called for an auto that was traveling empty. He spoke for a while but apparently the auto driver had refused. The young man looked desolate but proud. I asked him if he needed any help. He refused as I had expected him to.

He then lifted the tiffin sets and trudged on and I walked on, albeit a little slowly a little ahead of him. After all he would expect me to walk faster as I had no luggage on me. And I did not want him to think that I was watching him. After a few steps I heard a crashing sound. He had dropped the big set. I decided then that I would do something. I went up to him and told him firmly, I will hold one side while he could hold the handle on the other side.

He just looked at me, said nothing, But he did not object. And how could he? I had lifted the handle with my left hand and he had no option but to pick the other end ;)

While walking, he told me that it was the fourth auto that had refused to accommodate him. I asked him how much further the hotel was.He indicated a location that was somewhere behind my office. I said I would walk with him. Moreover it was not very heavy, now that the weight was distributed.We made good progress. Then I stopped some 15 meters before the hotel and told him I had to get to work.

He said he could manage from there on. I said “Take Care” and he said “Thanks”.

I sent a silent prayer to God that he be given an opportunity to get to a better position.