There’s something unusual that happened to me on my bus ride back to Bangalore and it was just as unexpected as an A on my school report card. Sigh, that never happened. Of All the 12 years that I studied in school; I never managed to score above B+. I was an average student but that doesn’t make me an average brain and an average person, does it? Well, my dad thinks it does. Actually, I guess he goes one step further and its not only him but almost all who were born in the early after independence era in India believe in the power of education. Ohh well, we’ll get to that. Now where was I? Ahh yes, the bus ride back to Bangalore. Its a story worth telling and I’ll most probably move to dialogues somewhere down the line. I get bored of narrations these days.
If I didn’t already mention I was super excited that I was coming back home. My flat that is. I’ve grown very fond of it and it seems like the safest place for me. No tormenting notes on how I need to study. No sarcastic comments on how I need to exercise. No anecdotes about how good the other kids are. God damn it – I don’t wanna fucking change, alright? So yeah, when I’m here it seems as if though no one can bother me. I like being here even if it makes me an antisocial rather nocturnal mammal who comes out only at night to feed. Now whom do I sound like? A vampire or a bartender? Whoever. I was happier than usual about boarding the bus back and I rushed to the bus stand as early as I could on the 3rd. On my way back, I did contemplate the fact that my actions could have hurt my mom and sister but then, there’s a limit to the amount of word lashes I can take. I’m usually never lucky when it comes to such situations. Like the guys in the movies? They always seem to get the best seat. The one adjacent to the heroine. The pretty one I mean. I’ve endured some horrendous people the last couple of times that I’ve taken to a long bus journey. I was scared of a similar situation this time.
You know what pisses me off? Its not that I don’t get seated to the best girl in the bus. Its just that I get seated to the worst person ever! This happens almost all the times. Its most usually a fat bugger (much fatter than me) who eats like a pig, laughs like a maniac and snores like an angry bull! I was hoping… praying if I remember right. Please lord, I’d be happy if no one sits next to me but let it not be a fat, snory bastard. I’m fat and it just makes the whole seating arrangement uncomfortable. Abhi and me were waiting at the bus stop; bird watching as usual. We oogled at a few girls, some good and the others weird. Abhi has a weird choice when it comes to women. Or maybe I have a weird choice *winks* Here is when I noticed this orange-topped, jeans clad, slippers on feet and kajal in eyes girl walk across the road with her family. She was cute, not the cutest I had seen but cute nevertheless. She looked like someone I like a lot. Quite a few pimples on her face, most of them fading off but still there. Specks, cute ones at that. She had this odd green bagpack and she had a constant smile on her face. By this time I got Abhi to leave and hoped for the best.
The bus arrived 15 minutes late and I was the first one to board it. She was right behind me and we got our stuff loaded into the bus’ belly. I was on seat number 13 and I settled down. I guess she was seat number 8 or something. Not sure but she sat in the seat adjacent to the one in front of me. Simply put, I could see what she typed on her cell phone when sent out those many happy new year messages. Now what kinda sick freak would do that, nay? What the hell? I’ve got eyes alright? And I see things. There’s no stopping that. Halfway down and at Swargate, I noticed that there was no one next to me. I was thrilled and I whistled a bit. Thats when mom called and we discussed about the bus ride in malayalam. She turned back, looked at me and smiled. After which she proceeded to untie her hair and call someone on her phone and yeah, she spoke in malayalam; as if to tell me something; or so I thought or hoped even. I also noticed how easy it was for two chicks to kick start a conversation because she started chatting up with the girl who sat in the seat in front of her. How easy is that? Talking to random strangers that is. Doesn’t it take time? I thought. Or maybe its female bonding. Here is where lightning struck the both of us. First her and then me. This fat dude in his late 50’s ran in and bounced around his seat before finally rebounding onto it. He could hardly fit in and fiddled around with his luggage trying to push it into all corners of the bus. His suitcase worried me because he had strategically placed it to my top right from where it’d give me a mole on my head anytime the bus swerved. She had a sick look on her face as he sulkily spoke on his phone to someone about how he hated traveling in buses. I praised the lord that I was still alone. Next stop – entry into Pune-Bangalore highway, the Katraj cut and here is when misfortune found me. The next fat dude in his late 20’s thus stuck on his phone in ultra loud marwadi came pounding in through the door and jumped into the seat next to me. Pfft, what rotten luck I thought and slumped into my seat music blaring into my ears trying to avoid whatever the fuck it was that he was saying on his phone. He spoke so loud that it annoyed the entire bus and I was hoping that the bus driver would throw him out. Gujju, Marwadi and other north Indian languages are just as annoying to me as my language, malayalam is to them. Its like a mosquito in your ears that’d beeeeeeeeep non stop on a fanless night.
There was this messy family that got into the bus too. It wasn’t actually the family that was going to Bangalore, it was just the daughter of the house and thus the entire family was there to witness her awesomeness. They hugged and kissed her so much that I thought she’d need a shower. Her mom wasn’t ready to leave the bus and I cursed my luck for it was getting late. This girl was funny looking cause she wore a pullover and track pants. So the women next to her asked, “So you going to play for the state or something?” and she says, “No, I am not” then the woman, “You look like you’re going to play and all that…duh!” she gives the woman a ‘god damn you look’ and says, “Nah, just… style hai!” and I’m sitting there wondering to myself about why god has to do this to me! Why wouldn’t the bus just leave? To add to all this, the driver loves the song ‘Hum to thehre pardesi.. saath kya nibhaooge..” he repeated it a few times and I nearly had a nervous breakdown. We finally moved and the fat fuck next to me called the bus-boy aside and discussed his chances of moving to the seat behind us – what luck!! Those seats weren’t taken until Kolhapur and he dragged himself onto seat number 18. Here is when the girl I was talking about spoke to the bus-boy and from what I could make out, I guessed that she’d be coming next to me. Damn! the gods must be crazy today, I thought. She got up, and said, “Excuse me…” and gave me the ‘move your fat ass’ look. I was kinda lost in thoughts and hadn’t noticed her come next to my seat. I obliged and she sat next to me. We didn’t talk for a while. I pretended to be lost in reading the book I had and she continued with her sms’ and many phone calls. The bus sped on and out of Pune. I didn’t quite notice her since I was consciously trying to avoid a conversation. I get funny during such circumstances. She began talking..
She: Malayali ano? (You a mallu?)
Me: Ade, Malayali ano? (Yes, you a mallu too?) I mean, what kinda stupid question was that?
She: Ella… (No)
Me: Pinne? (So..?)
She: I know malayalam and I speak Tamil, we’re from Pallakad.
Me: Ahhh, thats why.
She: Enikyu seats shift cheyyandi vannu… ayalude phone samsaram sahikyan vayya, pinne seat ayalku pora, appo sthalam vittu kodutu (Had to shift my seats, his phone talks got annoying and he needed the whole seat, so left it for him)
Me: Hmmm, toni enikyu (I thought so) Ende adutu irinne aalude idu tanne ayirinnu kuyappam, pashe ayal pinnilite seatilkyu maari (The guy who sat next to me was similar, but he luckily moved behind)
She: Guess we can get back to English now?
Me: Don’t quite mind whatever.
She: So, you from Pune? Or Bangalore?
Me: From Pune, working in Bangalore.
Me: How did you know?
She: Noticed your bag when you climbed the bus.
Me: Yeah, HP. What about you?
She: Ohh, I’m studying and I work for animal welfare.
Me: Nice! So what were you doing in Pune?
She: I’m from Pune. Moved to Bangalore a few years ago. Couldn’t manage an engineering seat in Pune.
Me: Ohh, Engineering? Heard thats fun.
She: Dunno, just wanna get over with it.
Here, the conversation slowly died out and I continued with my book, music and random thoughts of how my rotten luck had changed for the day. I think I dozed off and woke up with a jerk when she patted my shoulders. “Tea?” she said. “Yeah, have we stopped?” I asked sheepishly. “Thats why I asked, lets go, everyone else is off the bus. You need to move for me to get out of this seating arrangement. This is so uncomfortable!” We got up and walked out to the dhaba we had stopped at for tea and bathroom related activities. We had a quite tea break and didn’t speak much. The journey from there to the next stop for dinner seemed to have flown by. She was a chatterbox and would just not shut up. In the cute kinda way, I’d add. We spoke about food, music, education and politics. I guess she was taken aback and turned off by my apathy towards the subject. I mean, what the hell? I don’t give a fuck. Dinner was good and she continued blabbering about her countless little tips on bettering the world. I’m a good listener and thats what I did on most of the occasions. Except for the regular wise inputs which she seemed to relish and that would just mean that she’d dig further into the subject. The best argument was on why education is over-rated and she sounded like my dad sometimes. Anyway, big deal; I offered to help her securing a job after she finished Engineering, heh.
Here on, sleep was ruined for all of us in the bus because those couple of fatso’s decided to play ‘Who snores louder’ MAN!!! snoring is the most annoying thing ever, I tell you. I relied on my mp3 player to get over the night. We got talking again for a while when we stopped for re-fuelling and she needed to use the restroom. So I walked with her and had to wait outside the ladies restroom. It was an awkward feeling, but I thought it was worth the trouble. We hadn’t bothered asking for names, but I picked up that her name was Swapna from one of the phone called she received. We somehow managed to doze off and it was around 7 when I opened my eyes and we had nearly reached Majestic. She was tying her hair and wished me the most pleasantest greeting ever! “Good morning! I’m so happy that you didn’t snore…” and we shared a laugh! That was just about it. I picked up my bag and she picked hers up. We walked out, got our luggage. I turned around, tilted my head a bit to say good bye and walked into the waiting auto. No names, no keep in touch, no nothing. Don’t ask me about what it was that I was thinking. But then, some things are better best forgotten. I’d always remember the day luck shined on me. An awesome bus date. God bless the cutey.