The beautiful garden city has now turned into a dust bowl. With flyovers and the metro being constructed at every turn and corner, life has become akin to staying in some third world town. Sand piles, stones and liberal quantities of mud are strewn around in the footpaths. Honking vehicles clog the street, sucking out life from the lonely city beaten trees that have survived from the axe of the city builders. Apartments with no plan nor design keep springing up in small plots and jute out on to the roads. Some of the beautiful lakes are fast being filled up with overzealous builders who find it difficult to get land through proper channels. Today’s lakes are turned into tomorrow’s apartments. Garbage is dumped at every possible corner of this once green city and possibly new tools would have to be invented to navigate through most of the mess that would get dumped. Development has taken a sleazy turn and to be a developed nation if we are following this route then woe betide us as to what we have to endure to turn all these wrongs into rights.
In such a situation it is not easy to commute from one place to another in Bangalore. Only god can save you if the distance to office is inversely proportional to the amount of patience that you possess. Bleary eyed and shoulders slumped you reach home to be again pounded by near and dear ones to visit some far flung malls for entertainment. Tempers starts to strain on the edge of the mental cliff and barely manage to keep themselves from skipping of the ledge. Peace of mind is ultimately the royal goal of any human being and that is something Bangaloreans are desperately seeking for when they are out of their homes.
One of the best things that has happened to me was the introduction of the Volvo buses. A serene island of peace and calm navigating through the endless sea of insanity. In the cool confines of the bus I’m free to dream, sleep and read. Pictures of life, survival and struggle keep passing through its window and you just keep looking out as if you are seeing some gangster movie. Slumber slowly reeks into you, if the driver handles the bus like a baby, but you also witness some hair raising rides akin to those of a roller coaster if the driver is too zealous to be on time.
Conductors keep running up and down the bus asking for tickets which is a process similar to what is called as randomly beating around the bush. It would be hard for him to find a guy ready to buy tickets as most of them have the monthly passes with them. Scores of people inside the bus and the AC is turned up bringing a smile in the hot summer months and a spine chilling shiver during the winter.
Smell of different dosas and rice baths wafts through the bus in the morning when pangs of the stomach would have forced some commuter to open his tiffin boxes. The melodious bhajans add their own flavour to the ambience which sometimes get abruptly distorted when the driver realises that the crowd is too young for the music to be appreciated. Meticulous conductors who force the drivers to wait at bus stops to meet the days target sometimes break the simple monotony of the bus journey as people start grumbling about the loss of time, but nothing can change the beautiful ride these buses provide.
Days have passed into years and I’m still riding on these bubbles of peace. Hope they have a long life.