November 25, 2011

Office Bus-Ride

Most people I know complain of travelling to the work place. It’s too long. The roads are bad (no, positively horrible). The drivers are rash.
Though I agree to all of it, somehow I don’t consider it to be too big a problem. Maybe it’s because I live in Mangalore (I travel two hours, or approximately 45 km daily), and not in some metro. And I don’t have any back problems. Even so, a lot of people still find this difficult.

I’ve always thought that these issues are common across India. No matter what city you live in you’d inevitably come across one or all of the above issues. It’s not like moving to another city would ensure better/easier/safer travel. Moving to a bigger city (that’s where most people want to head to, I assume) could only mean more problems. And how about being ‘stuck’ in traffic? I’d rather be in a moving vehicle for the one hour, than painfully crawl for 2-3 hours to an office that’s only 5 or 10 km away.

The only real problem I have with this is when I can’t get my things done and have to specially plan for it – paying bills, running errands, etc. Or the inflexibility of the set routine (if any sudden need arises). Everything gets pushed to the weekends.

Anyhow, those two hours in the bus is ‘me-time’. Though I often end up dozing off (especially in the morning), it’s nevertheless my time. I don’t read because reading in a moving vehicle makes me nauseous and gives me a headache. Listening to music is what most people do, but I can’t indulge in it too much because earphones aggravate my ear troubles. Talking on the phone is not really an option – I am not much of a phone person; besides, I’m not very keen on others passively listening to me (or thereby bothering them).

It’s just some quiet time spent reflecting (on the day – the ups and downs, life itself, memories, thoughts - that may find its way to a blog post, or not …) or simply looking out the window – at the sights and smells I’m familiar with.

These are some of them…

There is this Amul topicals billboard I look forward to every morning. They’re not always up-to-date and I know I might be missing out on some. Might as well look them up over here (or maybe in the newspaper). But I like to wait for it during my bus journey and see it right on the billboard. Helps me check if I’m aware of the context as well. (My GK sucks – Twitter is helping change that). They’re clever and ‘punny’ (provided you also know Hindi/old Hindi songs).

I love saris. So the display at PSR is something I never miss. They change them daily. Do I like any? Would I buy any? This one is so gorgeous! I can totally imagine wearing *that*. I’m sure mom would love this one! Fun to think this way, even though I have no plans of purchasing. After all, no harm in some window-shopping – even if you’re in a bus and get less than 20 seconds to check them out!

The Nethravathi River is what defines the daily journey, being the almost-half way mark. Seeing the gentle waves shimmering in the sunshine (morning) to watching the silhouette of the railway bridge that runs parallel (evening) – it’s the most familiar sight and yet not boring. I remember the river being fuller and livelier when I joined office last year. Now there’s construction work (for the soon-to-be four-laned roads of NH 17 - or is it NH 66 now?) all around, and the water has become so shallow that I’m reminded of a satirical skit in one of the reality shows: a bridge in a Panchayat has been ‘under construction’ for several years together that when it finally gets inaugurated the villagers have just one request to the authorities – provide water in the river over which it was built!

The distinct thing about going over Nethravathi River is the smell. Most of the times it literally smells 'fishy', somehow. But at other times you can catch the distinct smell of the sea (Arabian Sea). And for me, that triggers childhood memories.

Speaking of smells, there is another inevitable one (also associated with my childhood) – shawarma/grilled chicken! What I’ve come to see of my stay at Mangalore is that it’s not too hard to find an eatery that provides shawarma/grilled chicken, as also ‘wine shops’. They’re aplenty, and there’s always one just around the corner! Shawarma/grilled chicken must be due to the “Gulf” connection, as also the fact that there are a lot of Malayalis around. (Even during my stay at Mysore what I observed was that the couple of places I visited for these Middle-Eastern delights were owned/run by Keralites. We love them, don’t we?) I’m yet to figure out why there are sooo many wine shops, though. I mean, you may or may not find a medical store, but a wine shop is a definite!

To be honest, there have been a few times when I’ve wished that I was working at the office in the city. That way I don’t have to wake up early, I could prepare my own meals (breakfast/lunch), I could walk to office and save on transportation… But all that is beside the point.

Why think that way when I know it’s not the case? We all have trouble accepting a situation. And tend to overplay/exaggerate it in our heads. That is when all the frustration and dissatisfaction begins. Things maybe bad, but it ain’t all that bad either.

So, how about you? What are the sights and smells during your daily travel?


Spaceman Spiff said...

This post reminded me of the time I used to travel 25 kms one way to get to my office in the city. And I used to travel by train. When you take the same mode of transportation everyday, you tend start noticing certain patterns. For example, if I see a perticular girl on the platform, I know that her train is late, and hence, mine would be too. It becomes a habit after a while. :) I've written about it in one of my earliest posts titled 'Back on track'.
I moved to the city a year ago, so now I only have to travel 4-5 kms. But as a result, my reading has come down drastically, because the most reading I used to do was in the train and on the platforms.

Vijitha said...

@ Divya - That's so true about a routine - the patterns. And yes, do make some time for your reading. :-)