All those who are not privileged enough to have their own car or choose not to use their car although they have it (all thanks to the traffic!) would know what a pain it is to reach your office overcoming all the obstacles related to transport. For those who stay in suburbs, this pain is even worse. And monsoon adds to the problem!
Thankfully my current organization provides bus pick up and drop. But what I narrate below is exactly how my travel used to be when I was working with another organization far away from where I stay.
Read on and I am sure that each one of you must have had a similar experience at least partially. You get up early in the morning to finish your household chores – there are so many things to do… make breakfast, cook food, clean up the house… all this leaves you with no time to get ready. Then you struggle to pull on office formals (they look so sad!), no time for makeup and just dash out of the house. You lock the door and realize that you have invariably forgotten something! Back you go inside your house; struggle to find where you had kept that thing last night and finally you again step out of the house.
Almost all people from the suburbs take a railway train as a mode of transport. You stand in the long queue of share rickshaw which will take you to the railway station and you see a bus coming which can drop you to the same place. You feel happy to save the time you will need to wait for the auto and hence at once you step out of the rickshaw queue and run after the bus but alas… it is so crowded that you can barely push yourself in… And while you do that… your hand is stuck somewhere in the crowd, somebody else is holding on to your bag as support, somebody else is poking an elbow on your shoulder or waist, your duppatta (Scarf worn over a traditional outfit) does not fail to entangle with the bus rod and you struggle to find some support with one hand! Finally you make some space for yourself and breathe! It is only then that you realize that you are actually breathing after such a long time!!! The next task is to find money from your purse for the ticket. It is just so difficult! If you manage to pull out a ten rupee note for a bus ticket of 3 Rs (yes – that time the bus ticket cost was only 3 Rs!)s, bus conductor will complain for the change, then somehow you manage to find change and you get a ticket… Finally!!!! And someday when you hold the change in your hand before jumping in to the bus, it HAS to fall down somewhere in the crowd and you can never find it! You have such a wonderful bus ride and more so because we fortunately have small patches of roads in between pot holes!!! You finally get down from the bus in one piece and thank God for that. You are already sweaty! You now run to catch hold of train as if there is just one train on the earth! You do it because everybody around you does it! When you reach the railway platform, all you can see is people and more people. You run and push and make way for yourself, and in just that much time somebody else manages to squeeze himself/herself in to that space. There goes your struggle in vain. Somehow you manage to hop in to the train, at times in a running train! All that you can manage to do is hold the rod and stand at the footboard. You heave a sigh of relief that you got to get in to the train and hope that you can stand there in peace! But are you ever so lucky? Invariable the lady standing next to you will complain about the bag that you are carrying and how it is occupying a lot of space, another lady standing behind you will complain about how your hair are bothering her nostrils and would want to know why you cant tie a bun and if all this is not enough there will be somebody else who would feel that you are moving too much and because of it she is feeling “touched”. Gosh!! These ladies can be super cranky!!! More often than not, I feel they capitalize this train journey to vent out all the household or professional frustration for the day! While you try and ignore all the jerks around, everybody behind you seems to be in so much hurry to get down that they don’t even want to wait till their station arrives!!! God knows how, but you manage to stand at the footboard like a solid rock and bear all the pressure that the crowd is putting on you. You feel as if you are carrying at least ten people’s weight along with you! As if this much was not enough, it starts pouring like cats and dogs. What do you do now? You can do nothing but continue to stand there like the solid rock that you have been all this while!! After what seems like an eternity, you get down at your station and make your way towards the exit. You are still running, in fact even faster now – because you want to be the first one to reach the rickshaw stand and hop in to a rickshaw. Do you get a rickshaw that easily? You wish!!!!! You get damn irritated to see the rickshawala refusing to take you to your destination, and you feel more rage when they drive around an empty rickshaw and yet refuse your request. You have to keep at least 15 mins time from your schedule to hunt for a rickshaw! After a very traumatic search, you find a fellow who is ready to drop you at your destination in his rickshaw. You think… Hush! At least now I can relax a bit! You sit comfortably in the rickshaw, set your bag next to you, wipe your sweaty face, and reach your water bottler for so-much-needed sip of water! Even before you could gulp down that one sip, you find your eyes on the rickshaw meter only to understand that it is running faster than P. T. Usha!! You say “bhaiya, aapka meter toh bohot fast hain” (The billing meter of the cab is faulty, its faster than normal) and then starts the rickshawala, “nahi madam, ye barabar ha. Itna toh hota hi hain…..” (No Mam, it is working fine, the fare does come up to this) and then you try to explain him in vain, then there is a big argument. You threaten to take him to the police and then either he settles for a little less amount or if he is very rude, which normally the case is, he will put brake to his rickshaw suddenly and ask you to get down. Such an insult!!! And you end up taking it, because all that matters is to reach office on time.
I am sure; most of you reading this must be going through a similar experience every day! But all of us are so helpless, aren’t we? Some active citizens did try to protest against rickshawlas, but unfortunately their efforts were not recognized. All that we got was a continuous fare hike! Does anybody pay heed to the transport problems that a common man faces? Do we even ourselves wish to set things right? All that we do is think that I reached the destination today somehow and I don’t want to worry about it until tomorrow! And even if we wish to set things right and take some measures for it, do we get any kind of support from the government or any political or social activists? Is there anyone who can provide a solution to this transport hitch??