I held a belief that nothing is better than one’s own means of transport for it is totally hassle-free. I was wrong. Sometimes traveling by public transport has its fair share of advantages (don’t worry I’m not about to write an article on “The Advantages of Public Transport”). By advantages I mean the opportunity to observe people, to observe their body languages, their mannerisms, their dialect et cetera, plus opting for public transportation does mother earth a whole lot of good too!
Once I was traveling to the old market area of my city, and I’d decided to commute via public transport to spare the inevitable traffic bottlenecks in the narrow lanes of the busy bazaar. I waited at the bus station. The air was hot and heavy. In no time, a mini bus halted to a stop and out of nowhere a mop of people rushed towards it. They pushed and hustled one another to get on board. I too managed with all my vigor to make way towards the door, in the process elbowing a couple of unsuspecting commuters. I hopped on it, bought the ticket and secured a seat for myself. An old man got in after me and sat right across from me. It was impossible to ignore his worried composure. He bore a fixed, serious expression and appeared to be lost in his own world. He seemed to be full of despair. It was as if everyone was invisible to him or he wished that he’d become invisible to all. His body language was flashing the word “misery”. I noticed his attire. He was clad in an old beige shirt and a faded brown trouser. He wore an old pair of rubber slippers and his toe nails were unkempt. His hair disheveled.
The bus moved a couple of blocks, when a shrill tune made me jump. Somebody’s phone was ringing. The old man moved, as if on an impulse. He started fidgeting with the breast pocket of his shirt and fished out a battered cell-phone. He took it in his hands and slowly brought it close to his squinting eyes. It took him forever to take the call. Just when I thought that the ringing was about to stop, the man answered the call. He took the phone near his ear and mumbled a coarse, “hello?” After listening to the person on the other end, his volume increased, and the creased visage smoothed. He answered in a language I could not interpret. Hearing the person on the other end, he flashed a grin exposing his discolored teeth. In the end he said, “achha ji dhanyavaad! mai bas aa hi raha hoon. (Oh! Okay. Thank you very much. I’m on my way.)” He hung up and shouted to the driver to stop the bus. He gathered his stuff, got out of the bus and went on his way, blithely.