I normally detest bus travel, not because it is uncomfortable, which it definitely is, but because it gives me a feeling of claustrophobia, that I have experienced since childhood, However last month my uncle summoned me urgently to Delhi, in connection with my long pending Visa application.
Since a train ticket at such a short notice was highly improbable, I was left with no other alternative but to undertake the journey by bus. I therefore packed my bag and set forth to the bus station.
On reaching the station, I saw a huge queue at the counter where tickets were being sold. I queued up for the ticket nestling my briefcase close to me. Besides me there were several other queues, with countless passengers standing.
The station was literally milling with people. Some were sitting on benches, others were perched on their luggage, while still others were lying asleep with their bags under their head, as if prepared for an eternal wait.
All around there was dirt and squalor, with an occasional cow, or a dog making a detour of the place, in search of eatables thrown by passengers. How I hated myself to be amidst this squalour, but brushing aside this thought, I nudged along in my queue which was but advancing at a snails pace. There was an occasional fraying of tempers, as someone tried to jump the queue that made the nudging and jostling quite unpleasant.
It was then that a person standing a little distance from me cried out aloud, that his pocket had been picked. He immediately collared the person pushing him, accusing him of the offence. I instinctively felt for my purse and was relieved to find it intact. By now the scuffle had turned out to a free for all, with allegation and counter allegations.
Fortunately a beat constable seeing the commotion arrived on the scene and took both the warring parties aside. On checking the person of the accused, the offending purse was found. While the public wanted to teach the pickpocket a lesson, the constable handled the situation with tact and led the culprit away in handcuff.
The commotion having subsided we again queued up for our tickets. I had by now advanced in my queue and in a short while I had my ticket, which I clutched in my hand and looked around for a place to rest my self. Seeing none, I placed my briefcase near a tea stall and sat on it sipping the hot tea. This relaxed me after the nerve wrecking experience of buying a ticket.
No sooner was the bus sighted, that people rushed towards it. I also collected my wits and scrambled towards it. After a lot of pushing and jostling, I found myself in the bus.
So tired was I, that I thankfully sat on the first vacant seat which came my way. After about half an hour wait, the bus finally pulled out of the station. I however made a mental note, never to undertake such a long journey by bus, which left me weary well before the journey even, began.