Almost an hour at the bus stop
The last time I had to write something about an hour in a bus stop was in seventh standard, where I was supposed to make up some excuse like ‘the bus I wanted just left two minutes ago and then weave an imaginative story of interesting things that unfolded there while I waited for the next bus which would have come fifty five minutes behind schedule, otherwise it would prove dreadfully unfavourable to my essay. I never imagined at that time, that I would actually ever have the totally unwanted experience of actually spending well, not an hour, but some forty minutes at a bus stop.
I wasn’t waiting for any bus at the bus stop, but imagining many ways to trouble my (I flinch to call him that) friend, who had, in his extreme foolishness told me that a library where we were both members of, opened at 9:30. He was wrong by an entire half an hour. I, on a rare occasion of punctuality, reached the place fifteen minutes before 9:30. And found out the correct timings. After I finished cursing my (flinch) friend, I was left with two choices, going out of the building and finding something to occupy myself for three fourths of an hour, or sitting on the posh Mittal towers staircase and looking like a fish in the display counter of a jewellery store (out of the water is a phrase too common for my liking).
I, being totally unlike my (flinch) friend, took the wiser option of going out. Once out, I looked left, then looked right. Don’t think I wanted to cross the road; coming to this college everyday has given me the knack of avoiding traffic without going through my kindergarten lessons of looking at both sides before acting like a chicken whose actions people unnecessarily question. I had no intention of crossing the road and In fact, I had no intention at all. I was in a state of total lack of direction. I don’t know why I looked left and then right, but I spotted the bus stop in the process. The bus stop suddenly fell into place. That’s just an expression, it was built, not dropped there, but the thing is, it was an ideal place to sit. I wouldn’t look out of place, and it was a perfect place to wile away time, pretending to wait for some bus. The funny thing is, there was a fish in the window of a jewellery store near the bus stop. Well, it was actually, a gold shark with a ruby-like eye, but that’s the closest you can ever get to get a fish in the jewellery store, that is unless your uncle owns a jewellery store, and you set the fish up just because you are hell bent on proving me wrong.
Anyway, the bus stop being more or less on Nariman point, with tall executive buildings, renowned (not yet open) libraries and the world’s largest collection of Chinese snack corners outside China, the bus stop I was sitting was a pretty busy one.
But being busy did not imply that it was interesting, because watching people get out every single time the bus stops gets very boring after seeing it about one time. I wondered where all the sheep and cows under the boughs were, now that I had all the time to stand and stare. That’s when actually I felt for the first time that life was indeed so full of care. It was so very boring. (I would have liked to use a stronger word like ‘damn’ instead of the ‘very’ in the previous sentence, but decided that it wouldn’t have been aligned with the cultured sentiments of this publication). Two men were chatting away about their bosses in one corner of the bus stop, and I lost out the more juicier statements as I have limited understanding capability of Gujrati. A young man sitting beside me was reading a textbook of some higher educational level to which I have not been introduced, and it had complicated pictures of some valve used in a chemical plant. It had the top view, the side view and a detailed view, and was labelled with words like “regulating pedal clutch”. But that was about all my dwindled interest would allow me to see.
I reduced to the regular pastime of people patiently waiting for something to happen, and began looking at my watch every 3.64 microseconds. Ever heard of the saying a watched pressure cooker never whistles? Obviously you haven’t, but the never-boiling pot is another one of those many things in my hate list. Well, if there was just one thing that I learnt after spending almost an hour at the bus stop, I realised how long it takes for the second needle to journey across the six degrees of a clock-face. I learnt the value of a second, and the good thing was that I did not have to find an Olympic silver-medallist to reveal the value to me. And there was still a good healthy twenty minutes left.
The people continued to pour out off whichever bus happened to stop at the bus stop, which was every single that went past it. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it does; don’t think I am Oscar Wilde, at least I don’t believe that a true friend stabs you in the front…
With the lack of anything better to do, I bought some groundnuts and started eating them. My eyes were by now following the regular routine of looking left, my watch, right, my watch, and were only disturbed every few minutes when a bus stopped, which was no surprise because I was at a bus stop. Having totally concentrated on the second needle, I now actually looked at the time and noticed that I had only ten minutes of eyeball exercising left, and a wave of hope washed over me, and I resolved never to be so bored again ever in my life, and whenever any free time presented itself, I would do something more useful than finding out the value of a second and cooking up totally revolting expressions involving pressure cookers and fish.
Surprisingly enough (though not as much as finding a fish in a jewellery store), the I’m-bored-and-have-nothing-interesting-to-do-time, (or in other words, leisure) came soon enough, and that evening, I did not have to force out any creative juices from wherever they were stored, and had a lot of at least remotely presentable material at my disposal, so I decided to write an article, and this is it.
this article got the first prize in my college magazine dakshinayanam for 2002-2003