Me and My Bus Rides – A ‘Freshman’ Talking!

A little confession; I rarely used city buses for quite a long time, until now that is. One reason was that most of the time my workplaces and residence were only walking distances away. Wasn’t that nice! But like most things in life that now has changed. For the first time in my life I’ve relocated to one of the areas far from central town; you can take an average of an hour bus ride. So with relocation means that some things wouldn’t be what they used to be. For better or worse things would be changing.

One of the major changes is means of transport. You’d like to use convenient choices which would ensure you reach to the places you want without much hassle and changing cars along the way, and also there wouldn’t be much bleeding of your wallet. After all the farther you move from your previous residence transportation costs are sure to spiral and more care is needed. So me, the guy who isn’t that much used to travel in city busses is using them more frequently. One great thing about busses it’s that most of the time it’s from ‘A’ to ‘B’ which saves you time, money and unnecessary exhaustion.

Though I’m no more than a freshman, and though I’m not armed with enough what’s and if’s to comment I’ve also to admit riding in city buses comes as an experience of its own. There is room for some philosophy. “Do they have to cram all these people all at once? This is unhealthy and causes a lot of discomfort!” Yes, it is unhealthy and the discomfort could be frustrating. It’s so easy to criticize anyone and everyone these days without that important practice of giving all sides the attention they deserve. So I feel a little itchy some things though I don’t consider myself a one-sided fellow.

One might ask, “Why don’t they have more busses running so that all of us could travel seated?” Such a guy must be one of the nicest fellows. We’re crammed not because we enjoy being sandwiched but because the facts on the ground dictate it. Yet such travel could be UNCOMFORTABLE the likes of which you’d want to avoid at all costs. But like other things acquainting oneself with the uncomfortable since there are no plan B’s would probably save a few nerves from being overstretched to the point of to the point of giving you the feeling the brick layers are messing up with your head. But then there is the reality we have to live with. Say if some brass says, “Ok, from tomorrow on there would only be sitting spaces on the busses. If any passenger is seen standing, the chauffeur, the passenger and the company would be sued!” It’d be nothing less than a miracle if he keeps his chair!

It’s too early to narrate what I feel now; In fact, truth be told and I might never come fully loaded. But then I proved that I was a freshman bus user a couple of times. What did I do? I’ll tell you what I did. And you have to be reminded this comes from some guy who thinks of himself the perfect metropolitan (what!) I jumped my bus stop two times. And I jumped them almost by three bus stops. But then walking back I was quite content and relaxed. It wasn’t only nice sport; it also came as a mini-sightseeing of sorts. So now maybe too ‘proud’ to ask people “Have we reached such and such a place yet?” I’ve now started studying the landmarks and I can tell you it isn’t at all easy.

The most interesting part is the actual travel with people sandwiched like anything and yet talking, laughing, throwing jokes, even openly gossiping and acting as they’d act under normal circumstances. Hey, take it from me and in city buses you don’t complain about pushing and jostling. No way! Not only the drivers and the conductors but even the passengers would think you are the newest nerd in town. You might ask me how anyone could come to terms with such amount of pushing, jostling, your feet being stepped on and you stepping on the others’ feet. I don’t think I’m in a position to offer any advice here, but I’ll do so anyway. Learn to live with it. That is only your bus rides would become just another daily routine about which you needn’t think a second time.

“Hey, take it easy! You’re pushing me!” Do you know what the reaction to this would be? The person accused of pushing and the other passengers would be startled and the complainer would be seen as a poor guy missing some screws upstairs. The one important needs to do is watching one’s pockets and I mean really ‘WATCHING!’ because the pushing and the jostling is comes as a goldmine opportunity for some.

The talk in buses is so interesting that that’s one place where you learn (and sometimes unlearn!) things. For one thing unconsciously is informed what’s happening in various parts of the town, parts which might never have seen or even passed close by. You hear info about what’s going on in offices as frustrated employees spill it out there. You hear various explanations as to the behavior of some big-time person about whom you had completely different views. Information you took as legitimate by the strength of its contents is blown to pieces when someone with firsthand experience narrates a completely different scenario. Of course, I’m not suggesting all narratives you hear on buses are legitimate. In fact based on the trips I’ve so far narratives based on lies and deceptions are plenty. Most of the time the narrators don’t seem to do them consciously. It is only that they have been sold down the river by their sources.

All said busses are the perfect hotbeds info of all kinds of issues and where human behavior is displayed at its best and sometimes at its worst.

The Ethiopian Herald March 31/2024

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