Bus Travails

09Nov11

Traveling in buses is a tiresome experience most of us endure every day. Crowded conditions, molesters, bus conductors who never bother to return your Rs.1 or 2 but throw you out if you are 50 cents short of the required bus fare…

I don’t know about you but all that and more are just a few of the things that brings me to office minus the bright morning cheeriness and chirrupiness that psychologists tell us we have to start our day with.

This morning however, I had to endure another particular torture that I don’t undergo on the public transport every single day but one nevertheless that I am quite often subjected to. I had my heart lurch into my mouth every few minutes with every lurch of the bus. I have a highly intricate conspiracy theory worked out in my own mind (I’ll tell you the intricacies some other time) that bus drivers are part of some deep dark movement to jiggle our internal organs every opportunity they get by lurching the bus through every stop and start.

That in itself is bad enough if you are a healthy young adult with good motor co-ordination skills like me, (well ok, so I lied about the motor co-ordination) but what about elderly people and children? To see people fall on their backsides or fall over the driver or fall over each other is not a rare occurrence in buses. But what made me especially anxious today was that a young mother was sitting with her baby on the very first seat.

If you are a regular bus commuter, you would have seen this scene countless times; a mother gets on with a very young child and immediately the front row passenger on the aisle side gets up. I have never understood this particular logic. Why the aisle side passenger? Why not the one by the window seat, who will thus ensure that the mother has something to hang on to, other than her baby? But by some unfailing logic that I have noticed time and again, mothers with young children are always given the only seat in the bus that has no hold or railing anywhere nearby to use as leverage.

And so today with every lurch and heave of the bus, my heart sympathetically kept time. The woman with the baby fortunately had a very good sense of balance, no mishap occurred, but had that been somebody with my deportment and grace, the results would not have been so fortunate.

Though a true blue Sri Lankan myself, I am unable to understand this unique Sri Lankan logic. Why on earth are mothers with babies/ toddlers given the front row seat by the aisle? That is the one place in the entire bus that should NOT be given to them. We as a people should be a little more intelligent and informed in our thinking and actions. Offering the seat in the first place is a good enough action but next time, make sure the seat will be of the kind that will not bring unnecessary harm to the mother and child. Traveling in buses is hazardous enough without tempting fate thus.

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6 Responses to “Bus Travails”

  1. 1 Tulie

    This is an old article I wrote actually. Just saw it again recently and figured I’d share it on my blog 🙂

  2. Yes I see this all the time. The same with the back row seats, people should know better. At the least the person who is carrying the baby should ask that the seat be switched. Since the recent office location switch, I’m now forced to get on from the middle of a route (Borella) and I’ve come to hate that route with a passion. Need alternatives soon.

  3. But a seat is better than no seat…

  4. 4 Tulie

    @John: Well, I don’t know how a person with a child getting on will feel asking for someone else other than the front row aisle passenger to get up.

    It’s taken for granted in this country that it’s that particular passenger who should offer the seat :\

    AFTER I wrote this story, I happened to be sitting in that seat one day and got up for someone who got in with a kid. It did occur to me that it was hypocritical, especially after the story I’d written but I didn’t have the necessary thick skin to just hang on to my seat or the necessary language skills / aplomb to explain to all the other passengers / conductor why she shouldn’t have that particular seat 😀

    @Megs: True, I’ve noted as much already but why oh why THAT seat??? doesn’t make any sense, especially with the way most bus drivers drive here. Some poor mother & child could come to serious harm!

  5. I usually take the window seat to avoid having to give up my seat if someone gets in. I’m evil, I know. 😉

  6. 6 Tulie

    Chavie boy, One day soon it will be you or your wife getting on that bus with 2-3 toddlers hanging round you.
    Be nice now 😛


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