THE RED DEVILS AND
GOING TO COLLEGE
Going to college
is a major headache. I mean the travelling part.
to college means travelling in a bus at the worst time you can – rush
hour. The newspapers have a name for the
red coloured buses of the city - “the red devils”. The number of accidents
involving them is responsible for their nickname. However I have a different
reason to call them that.
usually wake up everyday at about style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS"'> everyday. I leave my house at about Hour="8" Minute="15">8:15style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS"'>. Going to the bus stop I wait for the bus
to arrive. Some buses do not stop in the bus stop and when they do stop, they
are damn overcrowded. Once I manage to somehow get inside the devil it’s pure
hell. The conductor gives you a dirty look when you give them the 75 paise (1
Indian rupee= 100 paise; 1 us$ = 45 rupees approx). Though most stop there,
some start grumbling about students, the student’s concession (student’s
concession/ticket is about 25% of original fare. A normal ticket would have
cost me Rs. 3.50) and generally make you feel like you are a worm or something.
Then the guy starts scolding you far carrying a bag and asks you to keep it
down. All in a very impolite tone of course. Then the guy asks you to move
forward and stand in a gap which isn’t there. Meanwhile you get crushed,
stamped and flattened. Yeah, even a fat guy like me.
you get crushed, stamped etc. and finally reach kacheripady. That’s the bus
stop where I catch the next bus. I wait even longer for the bus which goes to
pookkattupady. I have to board this bus and get down at “thrikkakara temple”
bus stop. Long wait over I finally catch the bus and basically go through the
same process again. Sorry, I forgot. I pay Re.1 this time (normal fare Rs.
back home is easier. Easier, not easy. My dearest friend complicates things for
me. You see, he doesn’t have the identification card (more popularly called
“concession card”) which you have to produce so you can get your concession. He
was too lazy to get it when everybody in class was applying for the card. So
every time we go together, which is often, he gives me the reduced fare and
asks me to take the ticket for him. He reasons that the bus conductors usually
do not ask for the concession card if you go in their bus regularly because
they recognise you. He says that even if they were to ask for the card I could
show my card and claim the concession. Sounds clever except that it doesn’t
work. That part about the conductors not asking for the card usually is true,
but some nasty fellows are bent upon making life difficult for me. They ask for
the card. I produce mine and they ask for my friend’s card. Net result, the
fellow ends up paying the full fare.
had different problems in the past getting the concession. In the beginning, in
the days when I was yet to get my concession card the fellows wouldn’t give me
the concession and would ask me to pay the full fare. Getting the concession
card isn’t very easy either. Getting the card means getting an application from
the Private Bus Operators Association (PBOA) for which you have to produce a
letter from the Principal requesting them to give the poor kids the application
form. Then you have to fill it up, get it signed by the Principal and give it
in. Then starts the long wait. It is even more difficult than it sounds,
actually. Remember, the PBOA is least interested in giving you the card and
losing the profit that they would have otherwise have got. So they make the
issuing of the cards as bureaucratic as possible (which means as slow as
possible too).This means that you can apply only on specific days of the week
and at specific times on those days. And guess what? Those days happen to be
Monday and Friday when we have to be in college. Thankfully, we have a 2-hour
lunch break on Fridays so the Muslim students can attend the Friday prayers.
That’s when we go to get the application form and stuff. My head starts to spin
when I think about renewing the concession card next year. My God!
have to be careful in using the concession cards too. The “pipeline” bus stop,
which is the next bus stop, is at about the same distance from our college as
the thrikkakara temple bus stop. We board the bus sometimes from this bus stop
rather than the thrikkakara temple bus stop. But the concession card shows our
boarding bus stop as thrikkakara temple. Usually the bus conductors do not
object. But once there was this particular fellow who refused to give us the
concession because the card showed thrikkakara temple and we had boarded from pipeline.
Not all of the species are really damn mean, but guys like this gives the
fellows, who already have a very bad reputation (deservingly), an even worse
to college is sure difficult, but hey, that’s life!