Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Buses Trains and Ferries

I am sometimes a bit ashamed to accept that I never really traveled in a bus in Pune.
I was always driven around by my mother's infamous driver called Gopi. He was a brat and so was I. We got along really well amongst accusations from other people in the office that Gopi was pampered beyond measure by the "management" because he was responsible for carrying me around.
On a typical weekday morning, he used to come to pick us up exactly at the stroke of half past eight in the morning. While we were having the royal "Keskar" breakfast ( with things like boiled beans, colorful salads, masala chai and rotis made by the "morning maid"), he used to read all the available newspapers in the house. Then when I came out into the living room, wearing about 2 inches of fake height, he picked up my purse and laptop and took it to the car! I just got in and sat next to him while my mum occupied the backseat. We would play RadioMirchi and Gopi used to update me on all the new movies lined up for release that week. In the matter of local politics he was the most well read man I have ever met. He used to know the names of the corporators in each area by heart. I think driving was just his means of earning money so that he could read the newspapers and I would not be surprised in the least if ten years down the line we have to go and meet him in a busy Municipal Corporation office to "get things done".
If I ever had an urge to splurge, all it took was a call to him and he would take me to the far off destinations in Pune, cutting his way through the traffic and waiting for me for hours to finish up.
On Sundays, he used to drive us to the biggest vegetable market in the city and carry our bags back.
He also drove me to the beauty parlor once in a while and read the notorious extreme Hindu newspaper. ;)

So when I came to Brisbane, I ended up losing a chunk of my affluence just by walking to the University.
Now, every time we have to go anywhere we start off with Google maps. Then using the online timetables, we figure out the train, the bus or the ferry that takes us there. As a student I get a concession on my travel fare so I have to carry my concession card with me. :)
I was really bad with the buses in the beginning but now that I have done more than my share of traveling looking for a house, I think I actually enjoy it!
Trains are the most dynamic way of traveling. I really like the train rides. If you live far enough, you can catch up on your reading on your way in and way out. Unlike the ones in Mumbai, these trains are sparsely crowded and you can actually sit down and read. The take you to even the farthest points in the city in less than ten minutes and you can grab a cup of cappuccino from the coffee shop at the station!
That is what my flatmate Shruti and I did. The moment we landed on Central Station, we used to grab a cup of coffee to pep us up!
I don't wear high heels anymore and I am always found in sneakers. I don't splurge, essentially because I don't have the money and the enthusiasm to waste whatever I have after a long walk that ends an even longer day. If you ask about beauty, I have confirmed that it IS but skin deep! :)

We looked at some thirteen odd houses before we finally got the one that we are moving into. So every time some agent shot down our application, we used to say, "Never mind! At least we got to know where Cooperoo is!".
In my early days at Bus and Ferry rides, Shruti was like a Guru to me. When I used to travel with her, I never payed attention to what she did. So when on some occasions I had to travel without her, I got down at the wrong stops and had to sprint to make it on time to the estate agent's office.
Some of these times, we "assembled" our journey using a train, a bus , a ferry and a healthy walk just to feel good about ourselves and sometimes we took detours so that we could stop by at our favorite cafe for a lemon pie and Earl Grey.
Traveling with Gopi was one of the happy experiences of my life, but I think traveling using so much public transport is happier in comparison. :D

I like this city more because it has such a flexible network of public transport and I like myself more here because I am glad I was introduced to "moving around" with bus route numbers in my head and my favorite music in my ears!! :)


Shruti said...

I remember that wide eyed vague babe-in-the-woods look you used to have at the mention of Brisbane suburbs!! I guess you live and learn!

Shruti said...

I have tagged you in a post on my six quirky habits...
Please add your six on your blog as well. I want to see how many I agree with, as your housemate!!

Raj said...

Thats interesting. I always travelled by bus in Pune, so I had done a monte carlo of all the routes and I always knew which bus would arrive at what time..
Its much easier to travel by bus outside India, especially buses in Pune are horrible.

Nikhil K said...

Interesting, you had quite a lifestyle in Pune! :)
I have had my share of public transport in Pune, especially the infamous PMT lal dabbas. But, what better way to get to know the 'assal Puneri'. Eternally angry conductors, little noisy school children, grand ajobas, and incessantly chatting bank tellers, they were all there. It was something i actually missed when I got my own two wheeler.

On a different note, for me, Public transport is often what defines a city. Like the notorious yellow cabs of NY, tramlines crawling through the streets in SF, and the stinky crowded trains of Chicago's CTA.

ramer...thoughts on an overdrive!! said...

i like to point out..its possible to read in mumbai trains....that is if u choose to read even while standing.
i read my books on my to and fro trips on this trains...its good time pass for the 40 min one way trip!!