India is shining. Or rather, I should say that the things are improving a lot, specially my regular four hours journey (back and forth) to my school which I take every alternate Wednesdays.
The bus ride has become a pleasure for me since the introduction of AC bus no 105 from Bandra to CBD.
No more do I have to sit on the hard seat, reserved specially for the ladies, by the window, because I am afraid to sit on any other seat where I might have a male stranger dozing on my shoulder. No more do I have to worry about over-crowded bus where I would feel guilty when I saw more than thirty standees, all jostling for a seat. No more am I exposed to dirt and pollution, and the bad stench during my bus ride that passes through the route of Dharavi and Chembur.
Many a times, I was subjected to the stench and shit that I would see on the road if I wished to peep out of window. I would see the open toilets on the road, the main doors broken, exposing the people in the act. Reading was impossible because there were too many jerks, and I would have difficulty in focusing my attention on vibrating words. I used to prefer to plug the music to my ears and slept most of the journey, not that I could sleep, but shutting my eyes to the realities of the world, I could snooze off to my own imaginary world.
The only time I was awakened from my slumber was when the tempers ruled the bus and people got aggressive over a slight dispute. That was the time, when I too would be curious to differentiate the victim and the culprit during the commotion. I would then secretly take sides, team up and wish for my team to win an argument. Sometimes the argument would get worse and there would be exchange of blows and slaps and the bus would be abandoned in the middle of the road and we would wait till the cops arrive. Sometimes the cops would take too much time to arrive and all the strangers in the bus would become friends and together they would suggest an alternate punishment and pass the verdict.
Yes, travelling by bus exposed me to the difficulties and problems of a common people. It was the closest I could get to them.
Now, I have graduated to AC 105. The seats are comfortable and the bus fare is three-fold. Most of the seats in the bus are empty. There is music playing at the dash board, which is either radio or CD of old Bollywood songs. There is an electric-socket for people who wish to connect their laptop. Most of the people are busy on their mobile, chit-chatting. Recently, they have introduced in-vehicle retailing service managed by the ticket-conductor and soft drinks are up for sale.
During the smooth bus ride, I look out of window, no more, because now, I see the life-styles of a common man only in my books.