I May Need to Break this Bus’s Horn
Subtitle: I’m So Tired I Nearly Yelled at a Small Child
Here’s the next post in the series of proposed fake-yet-awesome book titles:
Honestly, the traffic in India amazes me. I am, in all seriousness, surprised I haven’t been in an accident – or even seen one – while I’ve been here. In a lot of places, there are no lane markings – three or four rows of cars just seem to expertly go around each other, fully anticipating what the car up ahead or behind will do, without getting into an accident. It’s like what I envisioned the future might be, where people don’t need to drive because the cars are all electronically programmed to go where you want and to know what’s around them.
There have been some close calls, though, especially in auto-rickshaw taxis. Sue, one of the Australian women I was travelling with in the north, and I were in a rickshaw once and as it pulled out into oncoming traffic, we just gripped each others’ hands and hoped for the best.
(Another note on rickshaw taxis: when it’s nearing that time of the month for us well-endowed ladies and certain attributes are more swollen and sensitive than normal, riding in a rickshaw and going over potholes and bumps in the road is a seriously, seriously painful experience!)
But I digress. This post is about the buses. So let’s get to the buses, but first: the honking!
There’s nothing quite like the honking that goes on here! It’s not just a soft “toot-toot” to let you know they’re passing. No, it’s an almost constant honking, when you multiply it by the number of vehicles engaged in this (in my opinion) irritating practice. You do start to get used to it, but I swear it’s just an octave lower than what makes dogs howl.
But the buses? Oh the buses! They public buses are a speciality here. For them, it’s a looooooooong let’s-hold-the-horn-down-to-see-how-long-it-takes-to-break kinda sound.
The worst, of course, is when you’re so tired you just want to sleep. For me, buses are a lulling thing, usually. They rock me to sleep, oh so nicely.
And then I’m jerked awake like I’m coming out of a horrid nightmare every time that blasted horn blows!!
Rewind to a few weeks ago, which was the worst time for me. To put in context, and cut the bus some slack, there were extenuating circumstances: I was exhausted, having been up before 4am to go to a fish market (which was amazing, but that’s another story) that day. The night before, I was on a short (less than 7 hours) overnight train, and I’d working 12-14 hour days on a story for the United Church for about 5 or 6 days at that point.
And there was a strike, which meant no private buses with air conditioning, but only the public, non-air conditioned bus. And I know, I know, cry me a river, but really – the non-air conditioned buses are completely fine when they’re moving and the wind is blowing. But when it’s an 8 or 9 hour journey, like this one, and there’s lots of traffic, especially towards the end as we get closer to the city, it is unbearably hot. Like crazy hot. (Now I’m in the mountains of Sri Lanka where it’s nice and cool and I kinda want to stay here forever…)
And then, in that last hour or so of a seemingly endless journey, a toddler in front of me started whining, and I could feel myself slowly getting irrationally angry. Thinking things like, babies crying is understandable, but a 2 or 3-year old being super loud and whiny is just being an asshole.
I know, I know. Not my finest moment.
I took some deep breathes, swore to take up meditation again for the 147th time, and told myself it would all be over soon…