"Cramus maximus" quite possibly the motto of the KSRTC.I knew this fact to be true when I unwittingly found myself engulfed in the large arms of a bear like man.
The conductor was a tiny man.i watched with awe as he made his way through the aisle, squeezing his lithe frame through impossibly small spaces.He elbowed his way ruthlessly,parting the crowd like a modern day Moses. Unfortunate, tall, men bent over in pain, tears welling in their eyes, as the conductors elbow landed on their crotch with an unerring accuracy. Finally he stood in front of me, palm outstretched , demanding my money. I placed a hundred rupee note in his sweaty hand. An ominous silence descended over the passengers as they stared unabashedly. The conductor looked at me in disbelief. Slowly, methodically he began to shout, his voice rising in a ringing baritone. The words”change”, illa” and “ticket” were mentioned several times in varying combinations. I quivered and quailed and handed him several coins. Appeased by my ‘donation’ he pushed me to the back of the bus, to the dark and dreadful abyss, that is the last seat.
Ten minutes later, the bus began to move. Writhing bodies filled the bus making a can of sardines seem quite roomy. The bus creaked and groaned as it carried the equivalent weight of three Indian elephants . The driver sweared proficiently and egged the bus on, occasionally hitting the engine with a mighty ”thump”.
The conductor screamed a medley of words, one among which was my destination. I leapt to my feet, eager to be off the bus. Twenty, large, men scrambled for my now vacant seat and I was unceremoniously pushed and prodded towards the door. Largely unscathed I exited the door with a sense of triumph. I had survived.
Looking around at the vaguely familiar landscape, I realized that I had alighted one stop earlier! A bus stopped in front of me, seeming, impossibly so, more crowded than the one I just left. I took a deep breath and dived into the sea of human beings……
Posted by Joseph Thomas