Bhubaneswar in the past few years has come out of its dormancy and has shown considerable development in sectors that have placed it as one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. With the IT majors and MNCs opening up, the very face of the working class has now changed. Once the ‘hamara Bajaj’ family (with dad driving mom and two kids out in the unfailing trustworthy two wheeler) is now slowly transforming to mom’s shopping in malls ,groceries from retail shops and super busy dad’s driving out to work on compact fuel efficient cars.
Lives, though gradually, are catching up on pace and standard of living has come up. Amidst all the beautiful murals on the sidewalks and flyovers, several ancient temples stand a reminiscent memoir to the rich and profound history associated with it. It is one of the cleanest cities of the country and has a reasonably well managed traffic flow, even in peak hours. However in spite of all these, a proper public transport system here is more or less non existent.
Courtesy the urban planning of the fifties, Bhubaneswar has broad and near about mutually perpendicular roads to effectively support a transport system, which could in turn serve a large section of people(primarily belonging to the student class), heading to their regular destinations, and looking for a cheaper mode of transport . I spent a part of my school and college life away from hometown Bhubaneswar and that required me to use the city bus on a regular basis. I ended up totally falling in love with the system.
I shared with it a bond that on being apart made me pine for the sense of comfort I once associated with it. Now back here that’s one thing that I actually miss from before. I appreciate her existence each day I spend away from her (anything non-living automatically becomes a she in my life) here in Bhubaneswar. She saved me a lot of money and a hell lot of unnecessary grrr (translate to a tiny cubs growling). In all this traveling I have had a million lovely and some ‘I-wish-to-not-ruin-this-article-with’ experiences. But even in my worst mood I still enjoyed a bus ride.
Every time I board the bus it calms me down, picks me up and keeps me smiling all so effortlessly. Here’s why: • Blush: I always bump into some woman/man who will be on the phone and blushing. God bless cheap schemes. • Men: Sometimes I find a woman standing as all the seats reserved for the ladies are occupied. It gives us men the rare opportunity to come off as the ‘nice guy’ and give up our seats. • Drivers: The sweet, kind and extra defensive drivers who lose their mind if a man boards from the front. The care for their lady passengers is overwhelming. Conductors: Ones that smile at you while giving you your ticket. And nudge you to tell you there’s an empty seat at the back. • Co-passengers: A seated co-passenger who sees you are carrying a ‘oh-so-heavy bag’ and offers to hold it to reduce your load while standing. • Book reader: A girl so lost in her book that it just makes you smile. It reminds you of life’s little joys. • Friends: A couple of guys and girls laughing hysterically. Their laughter is energizing and makes you smile and even laugh without having an ounce of clue why. Baby care: A young girl giving up her seat for a lady with a baby. Kindness still lingers in our lives. Yeay! • Ladies special: My personal favorite. A woman foot boarding up front and another at the back. The conductor jointly screaming at the two. The women smiling and getting off the bus with a broad smile, teeny horns and a contagious bounce. • Music lover: A guy with a headset, a hood and staring out the window so lost in his music. I always worry if he ever gets off at the right stop. But I smile because I feel if he didn’t, it wouldn’t bother him in the least.
As long as he had his player. There are millions of people who travel by bus everyday. Who take the time to just relax. Who avoid the frustration of making their way through traffic and pile their road worries on the driver. Who enjoy the simple beauties of nature and of the world whizzing by. To all of you, I totally hear you. It has been a long wait for us. Its time we switch from the risky bikes, smart cars, and the rude auto rickshaw drivers to the majestic city bus. Where commute gives us the gift of time. Let’s make ourselves heard to people who can make a difference about it…..