I think I once stood with Arundhati Nag in a bus.
I was on my way back home from a tiring day at that intership-work place I went to. And I think I stood all the way from LIC to Chikkalasandra's Shaneshwara temple that night. And that's a long way, especially in some really in-demand bus at evening peak time kat-raaaaaaawing its laborious path.
So, I'm literally doing one involuntary swaying dance over there in the middle of the aisle, cramped amongst dangerous rolls of fat and curls of hunger and sweat studded with black bobs of human heads, and I'm clinging to the rod at the roof and praying for some, any, god's dear mercy, when toi-toi this chubby (my standards), well-dressed middle-aged woman comes and stands in front of/next to/superglued to (depends where you're looking from) me, okay. Some ethnicky green sari with maroon blouse or something she was wearing. You know how those people dress, no. Full kajal leaking from her eyes, and golden-framed spectacles hanging from her doughy neck beside the mobile phone pouch's delicate thread like one thali.
Ya, so I saw her and thought, this lady will be nice at least. See, in the bus, there are two major kinds of regular passengers (at least in Ladies' Section). Those who come from halli who generally don't like to prescribe to my standards of personal space and (might I dare) politeness, and then those who can be called city-bred. Some of these, they (sometimes) feel vanthara to cast their entire body mass (and these women can be huge, by standard standards itself) on your reedy body and then to hurl insults with practised flair at you if you so much as dare let a breath of exasperation escape your well-fed, muddifyed moothi. But there are many in this category also. Let's leave that for another day.
What can I say, I was wrong about the lady. She came off all kind-faced so I had to squeeze into a neighbouring prisoner to make space for this creamy green-and-maroon mudde. She was quiet for a minute or two. Then her phone rang.
Why, why do people insist on talking on the phone when Shiva himself is doing his tandava on (what I fancy is) the roof of the bus? In the middle of that earthquake these dove ranis will stand there holding the phone, sacrifricing one precious arm for some chuth, giggling like dolls and falling on everyone else like drunkards on six jugs of naati vodka.
She made a big fuss to remove it from its thali position whilst falling all over me in the process. I let that one go. See, you should be nice sometimes, appa. Even when your legs are cussing you to naraka and back. Then she continued to have a long-winded conversation with the caller about the destination she was heading to, complete with small talk and that congenial fake laughter we frequently intersperse leisurely landline conversations with WHILE SITTING IN OUR LIVING ROOMS. And yes, the whole time she was jabbering, my pole of a body was used as a prop for her rolls of butteriness. I just couldn't take it anymore okay. First of all I was so tired. And so with a single heave I pushed her. Yes, I pushed the poor old hag.
Rule #1 of street fighting: Always keep some energy reserved, it sims. Ask Shantaram.
The lady snapped her head back in surprise.
Rule #2 of street fighting: Once established, maintain eye-contact.
And that's how, with various folds gathered, I got her to now stand on her own two stubs. Happa!
From then on, the situation began to look up. Nagamma was put in place and the other neighbouring rolls were now afraid to rock even in the direction of my direction. Things were looking good, and I began to entertain the hope of scraping and saving some leftover grace that night.
Wrong again. The kind soul from the seat next to my swaying spot stood up. It was time for her and us to bid quiet farewells in prayer as she proceeded to embark upon that frightful, formidable journey - the violent weeding toward the exit door. Ah, I learnt some of my best cuss words while on these campaigns.
In bus, no, one trick is there. If someone vacates a seat and there are two prospective people standing next to the seat to replace her ass, you are lucky if you're the one standing behind the other (if you're both facing the direction of the forward movement of the bus). I'll tell you why. When that blessed soul gets up, no, she'll want to go to the front of the bus to get down. (From middle/back door and all full Unofficial Gents' Section will get down, chi chi they will push you and they will grab your bum and all.) So invariably she will make the front contender move to give her way. Then you, the backside person, the underdog, can sneak in through the gap and slyly slip into the buttock-carved seat, snidely smiling the whole time. Ha.
I was the underdog person in this situation. And, yup, Nageshwari was the front contender. But since I as good as had the seat already, aaram se I was inching my quivering butt towards it - the comfiest-seeming thing on the planet - savouring every moment of tremulous anticipation, when out thrusts a creamy appendage on to the head-rest of the seat, blocking my very path. Of MY seat! Some loony warped sense of bus rules Nagakshi had. AS IF the hand thing works. In her dreams in her grandfather's house, maybe! (Paapa, perhaps Nagabhadri doesn't travel by bus enough.) And in my last sin of the day, I swear - I ducked right under her arm and snaked my way - plop! - onto the (MY!) seat. Pays to be skinny is alls I'll say!
I don't remember who got off the bus first. It was probably me itself. Means she eventually got the seat. My luck only is like that, what to do.
Actually, come to think of it, maybe that wasn't Arundhati Nag after all. Heh. *shrug*