It’s new year’s eve! And you know what THAT means? H.O.L.I.D.A.Y!! It’s 3 30 pm and the crazy Operating Systems Lab had just ended. Well, it was supposed to end only at 4 45 but 80, excited 19-year olds can be very persuasive! The poor suckers didn’t stand a chance against our combined attack! Hai Yah! LOL. I don’t feel very apologetic though, we implicitly followed the laws of nature- Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
And we scuttled out, eager to escape into the lovely , summery outside. This weather ain’t gonna last long in Chennai and we wanted to absolutely LEAVE before our professors changed their minds!
Vids, Vini, Swathi and I (THE GANG) did our loitering-outside-the-department-after-lab ritual for the last time this year(!!) , wished each other a delightful new year and hurried away in four different directions.
So, with a bag slung over my shoulders and a jaunty hop, skip and jump in my steps and a lightness in my heart, I fairly danced to the bus stop. Well, I had to wait to cross the road, of course, but I skipped the rest of the way.
I don’t know about buses in other parts of the world but during a holiday, buses in India are PACKED with people. I really don’t know how they even MOVE with over 50 people stuffed inside! And my bus? Oh. Don’t even get me started on my bus.
Itsy-bitsy name. MASSIVE OVERLOAD.
It’s like the entire Southern Chennai goes on that bus. Every time that bus comes, no, scratch that, WADDLES unsteadily, I feel a thrill of fear. Today, it was insanely full. Forget the fact that it creaked as it came to a gasping stop, or the fact that it fairly tipped over sideways with all the people hanging out but nooo, when 21 G comes, you don’t let it go so easily! Nuh uh!
Before you could say ‘G’, about 20 crazy people rushed past me and somehow, SOMEHOW got into that bus. It’s a sight Discovery Channel couldn’t show you.
I couldn’t even see inside the bus, all those people looked like squashed tuna! The boys hanging onto the sides waved merrily. All I got was a mouthful of smoke as I watched my ride roar off into the sunset. ( Eating dirt got a little literal there. )
Oh well. I wasn’t too disheartened. There would be more where that came from. I plugged in my ipod and prayed that One Direction had a bus-god somewhere who’d show me some mercy. It was New Year’s Eve. The time of HOPE.
15 minutes passed by and no 21G. The fresh, summery atmosphere morphed into an evil, scorching sun. (And my aunt in Canada is wearing snow boots ,woolies and building snowmen. WHY? )
Atlast! My RIDE. Another 21G. This was a tad better than the previous one. I looked around stealthily. I could see people inching closer and closer. I marshaled my failing courage, calmly unplugged my ipod and breathed deeply. (Who knew when I would be able to breathe this freely again?)
It creaked to a halt. Instantly, I and a score of my contenders ran to the bus. People were getting out. I stifled my impatience. Suddenly, I was borne into the bus on an escalator of crazy passengers waiting at the bottom and immediately had my nose against a woman’s bag. Not one of those delicious-smelling leather bags, noooo, a BAG which had not seen water since the day it had been bought. Ugggh…I couldn’t move one inch. I was assaulted in the front by a stinky bag and held at gun-point by 10 people and a baby at the back. And I was near the door too. O place? Where art thou?
Atleast I was in the BUS! Humpphh…alle…mmph..luuuuuuJAH! Phew. The smell. See, I told you I didn’t know when I could breathe again?
A few minutes into the ride, the bus conductor started his usual ticket-round. The moment of truth. Would I or would I NOT be able to bend it like Beckham and perform a miracle like Houdini and get my purse out of my pocket? I must. Because bus conductors, like Moses, seem capable of sweeping the mass of people to one side and collecting their due. The sea of people magically parts for him. HOW?
Anyway, with a lot of muffled curses, fantastic twists and one mighty jerk from21 G itself, I managed to extract 13 Rupees and triumphantly hand it over to Moses.
Yaay! Part I. DONE!
The first stop arrived and 5 people behind me got down. I could now feel pockets of air behind me.
By this time, my olfactory cells had become immune to the bag and the people behind me cushioned every jerk from every pothole. I was feeling quite cheerful when THE TURN came.
This turn is the MOTHER of all hairpin-turns. To make it worse, it’s on a flyover. Yeah.
For this particular part of the journey, I need my hands to grip something and both my feet on solid floor. But today was not my day.
Limited floor space forced me to balance on one foot, hold the bar 2 feet above my head with one hand and pray with the other. (No place to keep my other hand.)
And now, presenting, a marvelous balancing act by none other than the Human Flamingo! Sorry for the lack of PINK. But at least her face is red. Yeah, RED with the strain of having to hang on to a bar made for basketball champs. (T_T)
All that I’d learned in physics came into action. Centripetal, centrifugal and centre of gravity danced around merrily in my head.
The aforesaid Centripetal force pulllllled me outward as I struggled to maintain mountain-pose. I switched to panic-counseling mode- Hang on, It’s almost the end! You can do it! You are NOT going to fly out of the window. A few more tense seconds…
The last part of the curve aaaand YES! I made it! On one foot too!
I looked around with a goofy grin with my free hand up for a hi-five when a whole bus of emotionless zombies stared back at me. Seriously! That was an AWESOME STUNT right there! Nope. No response. Vegetables.
That was the craziest part of the journey. Everything else paled in comparison and melted away like vanilla-ice cream drizzled with hot-fudge(Yummy!). Even the time I almost got dragged out with a few over-excited passengers. No. I was cool, calm and collected. I even waved!
Only 2 more stops now and I’d be home! 21G was nearly empty. I was now sitting cozily with my face resting against the smudgy window and feeling the air rush by. Adele soothed my frayed nerves and I prepared myself to descend to terra firma.
I got up. Hung onto the railing. 21G lurched to a shuddering halt as I stepped majestically out of it.
I think I left my heart behind.