10/04/2016 12:17 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Dear UPSRTC, More Legroom And Fewer Bums In The Roadside Please

powerofforever via Getty Images
Blurred motion shot of a photographer taking photos from a bus in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.

Dear Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC),

Today, I happened to travel by one of the Delhi-Bareilly 'Shatabdi' buses started by you. This post intends to hand-hold you through the experience of the 'facility'.

Sharp on schedule at 11:30pm, the bus started from Kaushambi. Brownie point you have there; savour it.

Just as the bus wheeled out from Ghaziabad, I, being exhausted from the day's work, drifted off to sleep. So did Retrospective Procrastinator, my fellow-traveller.

Seemingly just 10 minutes into the sleep (in reality, 40 minutes from the time it started), the bus was manoeuvred into a well-lit, buzzing compound, and came to an abrupt halt.

Yup, 40 minutes of a five-hour journey warranted a 'mid-way' break.

"Mid-way break for half an hour," announced the conductor.

Mid-way what?

But yup, 40 minutes of a five-hour journey warranted a 'mid-way' break.

Fighting off my sleepiness, I got up and went to the washroom, strolled around a bit and returned to the bus when the break got over.

Once again, the journey resumed. I tried going back to sleep for the second time. Low lights, AC at uncomfortably full-blast, seats reclined to max, I hoped to sleep well for the next four hours.

Another three minutes into the process, the air started to stink of sweat and mustard oil.

My head reeled.

Horrified, I opened my eyes to see the gentleman ahead lying on my lap. Well, almost. Trying to ignore the smell by turning my head landed my nose in my neighbour's stinky armpit. Not his fault, since he was sleeping with his arm over his head.

Helplessly, I turned my face away from my neighbour, facing the aisle. Trying to keep my head firmly in place and stoically fighting off the effects of poor suspension system of the bus, I wanted to JUST sleep.

Another five minutes into snoozeland, and someone poked their fingers into my eyes. By mistake, of course. This was from the bloke seated right behind me. Poor soul was frantically trying to draw my attention to himself for some reason.

There I was, my backrest barely reclined, my boobs helicoptering over Mr. Mustard Oil's face, his head in my lap...

Turns out, his humble request was that I bring forward my backrest. (This request was, by the way, made while still being stuck where he was, and not leaning in to speak, like people normally do).

Me: "Take my seat where?"

He:"Forward; I have got stuck. My knees can't move."

Me: "Oh! Ok."

I tried to do as requested, and failed, because my own knees were stuck in the same way against Mr. Mustard Oil's seat. I tapped his oil-field head and requested him to move the backrest forward, and the chain followed, until it reached a gentleman who, before pulling his backrest up, deemed it necessary to stand up and survey what the fuss was all about.

Helplessly, we all stared at this MBA-looking guy. Somewhere in the whole ordeal, I forgot that I am a lady, travelling in the land of Uttar Pradesh. So the menfolk, by default are right, and it is their absolute responsibility to tell any and every woman 'to adjust' which, he dutifully did.

Calmly, I asked him if he expected me to keep my leg over my head for the rest of the journey. A chuckle followed from all around and in one swoosh, his backrest went up (and ego, down) relieving the entire neighbourhood in a cascading effect.

I peeped out of the window... Two bums in the distant horizon shone from some other vehicular light...

All of us reclined our seats barely now, but after some time, violating the unspoken code of being a good fellow passenger, Mr. Mustard Oil sneakily sprawled fully in my lap.

So there I was, my backrest barely reclined, my boobs helicoptering over Mr. Mustard Oil's face, his head in my lap (like my imaginary boyfriend's would have, had we been picnicking in Lodhi Garden). I had to make some serious effort to make sure my face didn't, even by mistake, hover over his head.


A non-reclined seat. Observe the leg-room.

I drifted off to sleep once again, clinging to my almost-erect seat like a lizard. The idea was to not die of excruciating back pain.

Some hours passed, and I got up once again, to this scene all around:

Pitch dark; both inside and outside. Zero traffic. The bus was stopped on the wrong side of the road, for some reason.

What reason?

I peeped out of the window to see six men, standing gloriously on the divider, along the length of the bus (right under our windows), peeing. Two bums in the distant horizon shone from some other vehicular light occasionally (ladies, I am assuming).

I turned to my neighbour.

Me: "What is this?"

Neighbour: "Pee break."

Me: "Huh! Here?"

Neighbour: "Where else?"

Obviously. Why did I even bother asking?

UPSRTC, I don't think that you realize that on the Delhi-Bareilly stretch, the last decent dhaba sits before Moradabad, so this was inevitable. The mid-way break happened pretty much at the start of the journey. Where else do you think all the water will go?

I agree that UP is the state with highest population, but does that mean that all of it has to be crammed in one single bus?

In fact, I can relate to the problem totally. I and Retrospective Procrastinator back-calculated the whole ordeal, and refrained from having chai, coffee and water since we started the journey, suppressing the gut-dissolving acidity with doses of Pudin Hara.

I agree that UP is the state with highest population, but does that mean that all of it has to be crammed in one single bus? Of the 40 seats, how difficult is it to eliminate a row to ease everyone's misery?

How about a rationally located mid-way break? With clean loo facilities, especially for women who don't want their bums to be shining from behind the bushes?

How about bus conductors who don't think you are hitchhiking in THEIR private vehicle?

Is it too much to ask?


Stuffing Of A Club Sandwich

P.S. Though unrelated, but now that you are listening, how about getting a few ATMs installed at Kaushambi?

P.P.S: The playlist has got updated multiple times over since "Tuu nikla chhupa rustam" "Ataria pe lotan kabootar" "Bharo, maang meri bharo", you know? Just saying.

This piece was posted on A Borrowed Backpack originally

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