Wednesday, December 21, 2005

You have not lived until ...

...you've ridden on a public bus in India!!!

Trust us. When boarding the bus, you're lucky if there's a seat. The buses are hard metal boxes with seats that hold three people on one bench, two on the other, and have lots of ceiling holds for the unlucky souls who get to stand in the aisles. Please note, that was us and it sucks with a 35 lb backpack on your back, 8 lb pack on your front.

Metal slats serve as the windows and in bad weather, you can drop down metal shades to decease the breeze but increase the claustrophobia. The only glass is on the front windshield that the driver, who's wearing a light blue, short-sleeved business shirt and sarong, can see out of to avoid the perils of cows on the road and maniacal moped drivers.

Hindu decorations of flower wreathes, prayer beads and bright-colored paper garlands hang from both the ceiling and front window, and all of the crazy color and texture somehow softens the metal about you...until the bus starts moving and the reality of a bumpy road--sometimes paved, sometimes not--sets in to your backside.

Conveniently, food vendors jump on the bus with you at one stop and ride to the next. They carry heaping plates of dosas (fried pancakes) and samosas (fried dumplings) plus all sorts of bagged salty snacks that we're afraid to try since that will lead to thirst, which leads to water, which leads to the need for a bathroom. The food vendors push their way up and down the crowded aisles, yelling their marketing and tapping loudly on the ceiling with a rupee, all the while balancing a metal platter of loose snacks on their shoulder.

The bus zooms ahead, its horn honking more frequently than not, as you lurch past water buffalo at mach speed. And then, the repetitive indian pop music starts BLARING from the speakers...

3 Comments:

Blogger Myers said...

I think you should have volunteered to drive.

7:03 AM  
Blogger jskalet said...

Where is OSHA when we need them?

8:24 AM  
Anonymous audrey dean said...

Tamara has shared your pictures of India with me - we are enjoying them and your blog - we are wondering how Shannon and Jim are making out Hope you had a great Xmas - connect with Shannon and Jim if you can - am sure they would enjoy sharing experiences - Audrey

12:12 PM  

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