It all started with the last day of our training at Milaap, and my first day at Trichy. Being born and brought up in the North, coming to a city in Tamil Nadu was itself a big challenge for me, and when I was told that I must travel to Trichy on a bus, that too, all alone, I can’t convey how perplexed I was! Anyhow, I managed to survive the 6-hour ride to Trichy.
But another challenge that awaited me there was the fact that I had to take local buses on my own to go to the field areas. I was told and had hoped that I would be taken on two-wheelers by the officers. That happened, but to reach the very field officer, I had to take local buses. There was no choice and there started my battle with my motion sickness.
The local buses in Trichy are of two kinds - the frequent, dirty and usually crowded ones and the other infrequent and clean ones with not many people. I wondered what the difference was, and it was the charges that differed. The dirtier ones were TN government buses while the cleaner ones were private and charged more.
Interestingly, I decided to take the local to see if I can survive it. While on the local government bus, one could see big holes in the ground and everything was rattling loudly the entire time. It was crowded at all times with goats and chickens squabbling in their tongues, children screaming, and a random stranger women wanting to know every single detail about me and my family. Such eventful journeys and interesting stories – worth writing about, right?
Over the last three months in the city, I've gotten so used to and comfortable to take the buses. I have ridden the locals at all times of the day - early mornings, afternoons, evenings, and even late at nights. When in the bus, you find across all sorts of things and people. I had a habit of putting on my earphones and turn on the music as soon as I used to get on the Delhi metro. Turns out that Trichy got rid of that habit off me. I no longer use earphones while on the bus, mainly because the conversations that you overhear are so interesting that you won't need anything else to entertain yourself.
Best of my experiences in a local bus has been to sit down right in the front beside the drivers and randomly strike up a conversation with them. They are the best people who would tell you the most local of the local foods, lesser known places to travel to, and the most famous areas for shopping in the place where you are going to. One can get to know so much about the city just by talking to the bus drivers and conductors. Such way I used to spend my over-night trips striking conversations with the drivers and making notes.
One more thing that you can witness on the local buses is the life outside it. I love looking outside the bus windows. One can see people walking and striding on the footpaths and the roads, shopkeepers putting up or taking down their shops, children shouting and playing, women selling flower garlands, stationery items, dry fish and what not.
Bus rides, for me, have helped me get a better perspective on life and the people around me, and ultimately helped me become a better being. They've provided me with the idea of mingling with people, to know more about them, to strike up a conversation just to make the long, boring journey a happening one.
Well, I must admit here, Sour experiences are not "Bad" always!