Whenever I do have to get on the micro bus, I try to get on one behind the driver’s seat. I’m not quite the fan of going against the motion, but this uneasiness keeps me from falling asleep, forcing me to look at the number of jammed people inside the vehicle.
The scenery looks different when you are seated inside a public transportation; the torn seat cover with the foam popping outside from inside, people getting in on every stop (or just anywhere!) and the conductor trying to persuade them about the availability of space.
The bus stopped at Kupondole, just before the Bagmati Bridge. The seats were almost filled, but no one was standing just now. The conductor slid the door open and called on two girls by the road to get in.
‘Cha didi cha,’ he said. They declined. He tried one more time. They marched ahead.
There were mostly students today inside the bus, with or without their trademark uniforms. A girl of perhaps fifteen was seated in front of me. She stared out of the window conscious of my gaze. I tried to divert my eyes, but her innocence kept my thoughts concentrated over her presence. How beautiful is childhood without the touch of the pompous world. What does she worry about? What are her dreams? Will she conquer the world someday? She gets off somewhere between Jwagal and Pulchowk. And there goes my thought along with her!
A middle aged lady in pink kurta signals that she will be getting off somewhere at Dumkal while she tried to search whatever change that remained in her cream colored bag. She abruptly handed over Rs. 15 to the conductor.
‘Athara ho didi,’ he said sharply.
The debate for the missing three rupee began. The lady claimed to have always traveled this particular destination on fifteen while the conductor boy was adamant that the price had been hiked. She complained that three is rather an awkward change to carry.
The boy exclaimed that public transportation users were selfish. Here beings classism and antagonism.
If the fare had been Rs. 16 instead of Rs. 18, no one would hand in the extra Rs. 1 that was needed (10+5+1!), he says.
The conversation was heated up by now. Their voices filled the bus, capturing the attention of all inside. She said with mistrust that working class people were cheats. She said this not in words, but merely through her voice. May be they represented the people in and out, and may be it was just a normal conversation of the passing day. She finally got down.
Luckily I got my student ID, but well for how long? Let’s worry about that another day, OK?
This May let me take you through the streets of Kathmandu, and my thoughts that travel along with them. Don’t forget to let me know what you think about these stories. If you have a story, don’t forget to share!
30 Minutes of Traveling