Sunday, September 16, 2007

the lone bus ride

from all the wisdom i have gathered in the 27 years of my life, i have reached a rather obvious conclusion. that we all live our lives alone. not with parents, children, spouses, live-in partners or pets, but alone. it is incidental that we are constantly surrounded by people. that we even beg, plead and threaten to have our own space. even ironical, actually. because at any given point in time, we are alone, live alone and, to yet again state the obvious, die alone.

life’s pretty much like a bus ride. we are given a bus to drive when we are born. (now don’t be silly and ask me how newborns can drive. because not all my analogies are technically sound.) it’s empty in the beginning, but as we move forward, which is the hope, we find that various people get into the bus. they either sit close to you or far away from you, depending on where you want them to be, and sometimes depending on where they want to be, and then get off when and where they please. they don’t tell you, inform you or warn you that they’re getting off. they just do. when they see the route you’re taking is not where they want to go, they get off. also because, they have their own buses to drive. now again, you might wonder how they can drive their own buses while they’re riding in someone else’s bus. it could be that they put their buses in auto pilot and hopped into someone else’s bus while crossing it on the road. or it could be that they transform their buses into miniatures and drive into the other bus. or maybe i just haven’t thought this through. but hey, it’s still what i’m going to stick to. so, when these people exit our buses, some times we’re happy and at others, it breaks our hearts.

while they’re riding with you, some actually sit right behind you, giving directions, sometimes changing the complete course that you intended to take. backseat driving i think it is called. and some just sit there minding their own businesses. and when they find that you have no interest whatsoever in that business, they get off. some sit too close for comfort. some stand too far away to hold a meaningful conversation. there’s no p.a. system in these buses. some come close to getting into the bus, and then look at the baggage you’re carrying and decide not to. some who are claustrophobic see how crowded it is and decide against it. some see how empty it is, and decide it can’t be anywhere exciting that you’re going. some, who are short-sighted cannot see what the driver really looks like beyond all the people, some who are shy are too afraid to elbow all the people and get access to the driver, some think it not worthwhile to find out.

some get in, don’t buy a ticket, enjoy a free ride and get off leaving you a bit poorer. some pay the fare till jayanagar, while you change your mind and decide to drive to shivajinagar. disappointed and cheated, they get off at the nearest traffic signal. sometimes, you see someone you want on your bus. wait for them to get in keeping your bus at a standstill for some time, but they just don’t get in. and you are forced to move on because the other passengers are impatient.
yes, there may be a few tenacious and patient passengers who sit it out for a large part of the journey. but sooner or later when they realize that your driving style has changed over time, your brakes are not good enough, you’re taking the safer routes, you’re driving too slow, or simply because your eye sight and sense of direction aren’t as good as they were, decide it’s time they got off the bus. so, when you’re close to the depot you find that your bus is empty, except for what the trespassers have left behind. mostly grime, sweat, torn bus tickets, candy wrappers, pan juice, and other things inconsequential. that’s when you realize that this journey was for you to take alone. and wish you’d enjoyed the ride a bit more.