Wednesday, September 24, 2008

City Commute - Lady in Red, AC Buses

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City Commute - Lady in Red, AC Buses

The Delhi Walla takes a ride.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Scene I: ISBT, Anand Vihar. It's so humid that even fish can swim in the air. I have to go to CP and the Anand Vihar-Dhaula Kuan Blueline is gurrring to go. Hey, look – 543. It's red, low-floor and sleek. Is it that AC-walli bus newspapers have written about? But it's heading to Mehrauli. Who cares? Anything to get away from the humidity. I knock on the glass door, the driver sitting inside his 'cockpit' presses a button and phurrr, the door slides open. Noiselessly.

Scene II: Inside, it's as cool as Rajdhani Express while the ticket remains very un-Rajdhani. Just Rs 15 for Ashram flyover. In a Blueline, it would cost Rs 5 less. I'm paying just Rs 5 for AC's thandak. Ah, it was high time to take DTC for a ride.

However, once a DTC, always a DTC. The driver is in no hurry. The door sliding open. People coming in. The door closing. Opening again. Every new check-in enters with eyes wide open and neck turning 180 degrees to take in the scene: wide aisle, large, really large windows, plush seats.

Finally, the bus starts.

Delhi and its dust clouds swirl past outside the window making me feel like a tourist who is sightseeing around Incredible India in an air-conditioned bubble. No dust getting into my ears, no strange sweat dripping onto my arms, no smelly body odours assaulting my nostrils and no Himesh Reshammiya singing out of the 'deck'.

And, the cream on the cake: fellow commuters in adjacent Bluelines are looking envious. What luck.

Bharaak! The bus suddenly stops. But no jhatka. It's Ghazipur traffic light. Three minutes. Ten minutes. Seventeen minutes. No problem. All looking chilled out as if we have found nirvana. And everyone is well-behaved. No spitting, no cursing, no molesting. At least, no one groped me.

The bus starts inching ahead. Fast, but not faster. More bus stops. Doors sliding open. People pouring in and out. We the people, the kind who do railway booking in AC 3-tiers only if there's no berth available in the cheaper non-AC sleeper cars. But here, on DTC's AC bus, it's surprising to find ourselves travelling dust-free and sweat-free, and with our budget and dignity intact.

Soon, the bus is running over Japani bridge. The Yamuna is looking blue, the air is 'feeling' clean, and even the newspaper headline is cheery (Bindra Gets Gold in Beijing). Soon, the door slides open at Ashram.

Scene III: I'm out – back in the heat and grime of incredible Dilli. Why did Ashram come so soon?

A street banner in praise of the AC buses

City Commute - Lady in Red, AC Buses


Anonymous said...

You're neither as poor nor as underprivileged as you make yourself out to be. Does it give you a high to imagine yourself as one of those lower poorer pitiable people of Delhi?
You go on living a reasonably swish life though - trips to Diva, etc. but one bus trip and you think you're to be tagged as the rag tag now.
Unimpressive! Get real!

Anonymous said...

hey..i totally disagree wid da one comment writtten above....its not dat the 'underprivileged' travel in buses!!!!buses r very common in delhi ..... the author is only trying to tell how a trip in the new buses is so diff. as compared to the one in a DTC....come on....this is wat is real!!!

Anonymous said...

Himesh Reshammiya...

yeah, he annoys the crap out of this gora too

Anupama K. Mazumder said...

Well written...those are my exact feelings when I rode the AC bus one summer evening. The long bus route, numerous bus stops, the traffic jams.. nothing can irritate you when you are inside. And what shockers the bus has! You just seem to be gliding through.

Of course, you may like to note that if crowded, the AC bus tends to be very very stuffy. The green DTC buses seem a step ahead in this regard... at least you can open the windows. And you pay exactly what you pay in those Bluelines, so it becomes all the better.

Ananya said...

heyy that's a kid from my school running in front of the bus!! sigh..i miss the blue uniform...and the masti in Delhi (Modern school, Barakhamba Rd!)