Central Bengaluru always is a misquoted terminology. No one knows what part of Bengaluru is central and what part is not. Some say its Majestic, some say its MG Road, some even say its Koramangala! So much for the skewed understanding. Nevertheless, I had to purchase an ultraviolet lamp, for medical reasons, and the only place it was available in Bengaluru was on BVK Iyengar road. So I set off on a rather unusual trip to a place I was walking around a lot about a decade and a half ago during my studies, and early career, when there were no MALLS around for fun and frolicking!
It was a rather hot afternoon, and I decided to go by bus. A decade of car driving had not only brought me loads of knee pain, but also made me totally dependent on the automobile and its services at all times, even to the nearby road. So this time bus it was to be. Boarded a rather rusty rickety BMTC blue bus and set off on my journey from Koramangala to Majestic only to halt two stops away for a good amount of time. It was noon and the driver jumped off the bus and went away with two empty bottles to fetch drinking water from a nearby temple. For the next ten minutes the same bus (171) cloned itself thrice and I missed all those simply because I had already paid for a ticket on this bus. The reason the bus would not move is because the driver feared that he would not meet the collection target for that journey. Don’t you think the transportation tracking has bettered itself over these years, that even drivers are now talking of collection targets? One can only sympathize with them on this fact. If commuters were to get five buses of the same route, one after the other, where must these drivers go to meet these targets? I can’t board all five buses at one time can I ? But this also spells progressive urbanization doesn’t it?
After a few arguments, and explaining to the driver not to waste our time, the rickety box started moving at snail’s speed. The hot sun was really killing everyone and without breeze it was like sitting inside a furnace. A decade of car driving seemed to have removed the notion of a bus from my mind. The best part though was the ticket cost – Rs.10 for about 10 kms. In these days of recession, this is awesome! Not to forget to mention you get entertainment on the way too. A guy sat next to me, and was all to himself. I just enquired about a couple of buses since I was doubtful where they were heading. That’s when I noticed the stench. Our man had boozed in broad daylight. But his answers were perfect, and he was still steady. People were toiling hard outside the IT industry as well.
I kept to myself and away from the stink when I noticed this young eunuch (more girlish) get into the bus from the rear, with a water pot. When she (for simplicity sake, i ll take the she route, now lets not debate whether ‘its’ not a ‘he’) saw that the bus was more or less empty, she was running from one seat to another, looking back and forth and giving that odd ‘Do you want something’ notorious smile. People were not pissed off either and let her do what she was good at – giving stares. Quite obviously her’s was a ticketless travel and the conductor dare not question that! Somewhere half way though she got down and the bus slowly reached my destination – a traffic signal after the actual bus stop – Mysore Bank.
For my ill luck the signal had gone green, and I had to do some stunts to jump off the moving bus. The last time I had tried anything like this was when I was in my first year engineering degree, where buses also overtook people walking. Now the situation was quite opposite. Both of them were lethargic, so it was a relatively easy job to get out. Enter BVK Iyengar Road – the familiar Abhinay theatre, the familiar KG Road, the traffic – the streaming people, the beggars and vendors on the footpath – everything was pretty much the same. The atmosphere of old Bengaluru was unfolding in front of my eyes. And I turned nostalgic almost instantaneously. Its never about a bus journey, its about the memories that follow such a journey.
I walked the entire stretch of this road, and turned left at some point into a smaller lane to reach a shop that I had to go to. My decade old car driving manners had also instilled in me a sense of expecting hi-fi things and the disappointment showed on my face. I must have tuned my mind to central Bengaluru before entering the place. The street I was on could barely accommodate three individuals standing next to each other. In other words, this was the width of the lane. And were there three individuals? Heck No! There were three hundred – a hundred individuals walking furiously, a hundred vehicles mazing their way in and out, and another hundred parked wherever there was a perception of space. There were shops everywhere selling everything electrical (for those who dont know, BVK Iyengar road, is for electrical stuff, just as much as SP Road is for electronics) and the shop dimensions were anywhere between 5ft x 5ft to 10ft x 15ft if nothing bigger – only smaller though.
This post will be continued …
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