What are you doing in Adyar Bus?

Many of us assume that we are conscious enough and are aware of things happening around us. But things happen to us without our control and we inadvertently go through the situation, in spite of us being fully conscious that, we have done things right. Let me narrate an incident that happened on Friday (19th Feb 2010) that was hopelessly funny and persuaded me to give a deep thought about it.

It was Friday and I left my cubicle around 5.07 PM to catch my 5.30 office bus. I walked past the array of buses which was in the bus bay. The bus numbers decremented one by one from 128 and I located the bus number 105 which takes me to Triplicane. The bus driver was standing near the entrance with the bus register. I smiled at him and boarded the bus. He was a familiar guy as I used to take this bus in the morning near my house.

The bus was sparsely filled. I spotted a three seater and placed my bag. Just then a guy came and the person sitting in seat said that he already placed his bag. It is difficult to sit in a three seater with three people in it. So I looked for other seats and found a girl, sitting alone in another three seater. I quickly occupied the aisle seat. She was sitting by the window seat. I always find comfortable sitting beside a girl in a three seater. The reason is not because I can flirt with a stranger woman, but because the probability of the third seat getting filled is very less compared to a situation in which two males sitting in a three seater and the third seat is empty. Thus only two persons in a three seater can travel comfortably, a two hour journey towards home.

Both of us exchanged a “Hi…” and a smile as we know each other through this bus journey to and from the office campus and Home. As speculated, other seats were getting filled and no one occupied the third place in our seat. The bus started at 5.30 pm sharp and picked up speed. As the bus covered a few distance, she plugged in her mobile ear phones and was looking outside the window. I too wanted to listen to songs in the mobile. But I was feeling damn tired. I was feeling bored too. So I took my mobile from my pocket logged in to the DABR website to access twitter. Checked few tweets and later posted few tweets about bus journeys. I felt sleepy a bit, so logged off the twitter API and dozed off.

It was 6.57 PM when I opened my eyes and peeped outside the window and found that the bus is near Anna University and it crossed IIT Madras. I took the mobile from the pocket and thought of checking twitter again. Just then I got a message from my friend. I get lots of forward messages daily from friends. But I know that this is not a forward message because she never usually sends any forwards. I know that is going to be some personal message intended for me. I opened the message, it read,

“Wat are u dng in here in adyar bus? Luk bak”

I didn’t understand first. As I woke up from sleep, I didn’t know what this message all about . I turned back to see her sitting in the two seater. I was startled to see her because I know she never boards my bus and both of us catch different bus in the evening. I was totally confused and was in complete mess. I looked outside the window. The bus had already reached the Sangita Hotel in Adyar. I quickly grabbed my bag and went to her seat and sat beside her.

“Hey, I boarded the wrong bus” I said.

“Ayyo Kally, what happened, you are realizing it only now?” She asked.

“Anyways, I can get down here and catch the state transport to reach home. Tell me where this bus stops now. Will this stop under the flyover near L.B. Road?”

“Yes, you can get down in the next stop. It takes a right turn under the bridge and goes to Besant Nagar” She said.

“OK, see you Sou” I said in hurry and rushed to the front to get down.

I was so confused. Why did I board the wrong bus? I was confident that I got into right one. Even the girl sitting beside me used to come in the same bus. I thought, “OK I would have got into the bus number 112”. This is the bus I used to take at 7.30 pm. I reassuringly recalled the bus number. I had made a mistake it seems. I know 112 bus goes to Adyar at 5.30 pm. I would have boarded the 112 bus as I used to get into it at 7.30 pm. But how did I make this mistake. I remembered that few of the folks who used to get down in Triplicane were present in the bus.

I haven’t got an opportunity to use state transport from Adyar as I used to use my bike to commute till Adyar for shopping or for lunch with friends etc. I wanted my bike badly. It will take around half an hour from Adyar to Triplicane. I enquired few people standing in the bus stand about which bus may take me to Triplicane.

The office bus number 105 will drop me right infront of the street where my house is. I thought may be the girl who was sitting beside me is having some work in Besant Nagar or somewhere after that or she is going to meet  her friend. I cursed my forgetfulness and carelessness of not noticing the bus properly. It was Friday evening. I wanted to reach home early, not that I had an appointment with my girl friend or I have a party in the local club at my place. It is just that I wanted to reach home soon.

After some twenty minutes of waiting and enquiring, I saw a bus which came to a slow halt in the bus stand. It was 21H.

I enquired the conductor, “Is the bus going towards Beach Road near Vivekananda House?”

“Yea this is taking the beach road but it will not halt in Vivekananda House stop”, the conductor replied.

After a quick thought process, I enquired him again, “Kannagi Statue stop?”

“Yes, get in, get in”, he signaled and hurried in his tone.

Thank God, I at least got a bus to my place. From the Kannagi Statue stop it will be twenty minutes walk to my place. I got into the bus and the conductor handed me a ticket to Kannagi Statue. I paid Rs 7.00 and there was no place to sit. I leaned over a pole and took out my mobile, logged into twitter and tweeted,

This tweet even appeared in the Google Buzz the next day, in the wrong time line as I’ve linked my twitter account persuaded by the laziness to use Buzz and twitter separately!

I decided to call her and informed her that I got into the bus. I thanked her for messaging at the right time. Otherwise I would have slept and the bus would have crossed Besant Nagar. Both of us spoke for a minute and I disconnected the call.

I was thinking about the ordeal of walking till my house from the Kannagi Statue stop in the beach road. Suddenly my mobile ringed and it was Sou who is calling me. I thought she is going to inform me about, she reaching home safe. I picked up the mobile and she spoke

“Kally, I’ll tell you one thing. You shouldn’t shout at me” She said giggling.

I was puzzled. What is that she has to say which will make me shout at her at this point of time? She has really helped me today. How can I shout at her or get angry? I thought.

“Tell me Sou, what’s the matter?” I was so much curious to know what she is going to say.

“Kally…actually…” she fumbled, swallowed few words and finally said those golden words, “I was the one who boarded the wrong bus!”

I was into total bewilderment. I didn’t know what to say.

I was in mixed emotions, “what the hell!!!”

She was laughing madly.

“So I was in the right bus and it is you who got into the wrong one” I replied wondered.

“I guess it is true Kally” she said, “I was so confused today and I guess, I boarded the wrong bus. Sorry Kally”

Adi paavi, I would have peacefully slept in the bus till Triplicane” I spoke at her cursing myself.

Later I found that, it is her friend who accompanied her in the auto till her place told her that she had boarded the wrong bus. Her friend asked her, “What are you doing in the Triplicane bus?”

Only later she understood that she was in the wrong bus and I was in the right one. Her friend asked her to call me back and inform me about this confusion and making this poor boy get down the office bus, killing his peaceful sleep and subjecting me to run for the city buses. One has to understand that a person who is used to taking office bus, from Mahindra City which is situated terribly outside the city, which drops him exactly near the house, will find it extremely difficult and tiring to catch a state transport, get down in the beach road and walk some few kilometers into the Triplicane.

As most of the office bus used to go till Adyar then take different routes, she didn’t realize that she was in the wrong one. But it is not going to make any big difference for her as she stays in Adyar. It is I who has to travel some kilometers to Triplicane.

But all this did not make me furious. I was only laughing myself for making a fool out of me and not for being cautious and conscious. Before getting down, I could have asked the driver, just to reassure. I did not do it. It is because our sheer confidence and the sub conscious control of our mind that makes us believe things that are happening around as correct.

I was bit confused after seeing her in my bus. She had never played a prank on me which made me believe her words. This one incident I would never forget in my life as in my 2.6 years of corporate work life, I had never boarded a wrong route bus. A simple SMS from a close friend came as a bolt that hampered my peaceful journey.

The point is, we are not governed by external factors. We are simply governed by internal stimuli. We are controlling ourselves. We are responsible for things happening to us. We simply blame others or things which hamper our work or even the day. But people forget that everything is within us. I do not want to blame her for spoiling my way back home, delaying me by half-an-hour to reach home, making me run here and there for bus, making me walk a long distance. But I want to thank her for giving me an opportunity to understand life, to understand the human behavior. She has given me an opportunity to understand self and the way of life. A lots of introspection went into this.

Life is all about learning things. But as some SMS says, life is a good teacher because it teaches us things only after putting us in that situation in real time. We learn the lesson not just by reading or looking at it, but by feeling and realizing it from the incidents which happens to us.

She promised me a chocolate or even a bigger one for not telling this to anyone as this may lead to insult to her dignity and may pose a threat to her respect among friends. She even said, she will return the “Thank You” that I conveyed her for messaging at the right time otherwise I would have slept and reached a different place. But I really wanted to share this with many of them as I wanted to show how things happen to us without our control in spite of us being on the right side and so this post. Since she was my college mate and a very good friend of mine, I respected her words and concealed her identity here.  Sou is just a pseudo name I gave her, though this resembles a short form her real name that we used to call.

Thanks again!

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Short Story: The Antique Watch

“What is this?” the voice from behind echoed in our living room, as we were looking into the metallic thing shining in my palm.

“It is an old watch” I said.

“Old clock I guess,” Akshay corrected me, “looks like an antique piece.”

“Yea seems to be one”

“But, from where did you get this?” the question was very simple, “tell me Kishore, why did you buy this?”

“I didn’t buy”

“Then”

“The small watch company one below the flyover, owned by Kishandas Jain, he gave me this in replacement for my old wrist watch which he misplaced it somewhere”

“You are nuts!”

“But why?” I asked.

“You should have asked a new watch from him. You are really a nuts dude. He just made a fool out of you. An old metallic watch, sorry it has only the dial, so it is a clock in replacement for your five thousand rupees Titan watch? May be Gandhiji would have used this piece I guess”

“But this is working. I never use a watch now-a-days and that too I bought that watch three years back. The price of my watch would have come down less than its quarter I guess.”

He came around and sat in the bed beside me in my room. Both of us were examining the watch in my hand. It looked so old, but well polished, gleaming silver with a diameter equal to the width of my palm. It had a thin metal lid for its face and a screw to adjust the minute and hour hands. Around the screw was the small hook like thing which you can use it to connect a chain and let it dangle wherever you want. The shop keeper gave the watch in a small wooden box. We were looking at the dial of the watch. It looked so royal, still looking awesome.

“Hey what’s this?,” Akshay jumped and took the wooden box and pulled out a small velvet cloth peeping out of it. I leaned towards him and stared at what he is looking at.

“That must be the cloth which normally they give to clean the watch” I said.

“Hmmm…looks like that,” he said, “but, did you see this? Something is written here” he pulled my shorts. He now brought the opened cloth to my visibility. I could read the thick golden words embroidered in the cloth.

It read,

It strikes! one, two,
Three, four, five, six. Enough, enough, dear watch,
Thy pulse hath beat enough. Now sleep and rest;
Would thou could’st make the time hasten its pace;
I’ll wind thee up no more.

“And now what is this?” Akshay became curious, “Looks like it is giving us some message”

“Akshay, please do not think and imagine weird things. It is just a watch, just an old watch. Just leave this in my place and let’s go out.

“No there is some message in this. Listen, it says, it strikes always one, two, three and four and in constant motion all time. The levers, the metal pins and all the mechanism seems working all time. So if we stop the watch or make its pace faster, it will wind up, no…no..err it will wind us up. This means, it will kill us!!”

He winked at me. I know about him. He takes things which are not so serious into serious stuff and ponders about them. After sometime, he comes back to his normality and views the same thing as crap. Now this thing about the clock has made him hypersensitive which I know that he’ll be back to normal in few minutes.

I ignored his research on the words written in the piece of cloth. Searched for the knob to adjust time and made it ten minutes faster. It was half past twelve and I was feeling sleepy. I kept the watch in the table and dozed off for a while.

Something was disturbing my sleep and found to be my mobile. I picked it up to find Preethi calling.

“Hi Preethi”

“Hi Kishore, know what? I’m leaving for Hyderabad and I’ll be in the station in an hour” She said.

“Oh, why suddenly?” I asked

“I’m on a vacation and going to stay at my aunt’s house there. If possible can we meet in the station?”

“Sure Preethi, I’ll join you for the send off. I’ll get ready in fifteen minutes and try to reach the station”

“Okay, see ya.”

The call disconnected.  My mobile clock displayed 3.00 PM. I had slept for two and half hours. The antique watch was not seen on the table. I could hear the music player sending beats out of Akshay’s room.

He will be having it, I thought

I took a shower and kick started my bike to reach the station. I informed Akshay that I’ll be back in sometime.

After meeting Preethi in the station and an exciting send off, I reached the parking lot in the station and extracted my bike from the crowd of vehicles parked haphazardly. After, crossing the sandy roads beside the railway station, my bike touched the tar road and picked up speed. It was a straight long stretch of road and it was less crowded with the vehicles. I shifted the gear and picked up speed and was tearing the air that came along. Before I could realize what was going to happen, a cow crossed the road and stood straight right infront of my way. I had no time to react but to apply the brakes. But to my disappointment, the bike screeched and ran over a sand spread over the road and so my bike skidded, toppled, tumbled and fell on the ground and thrown into one corner of bushes along the sides of the road.

My hands were paining. Luckily nothing bad happened. I survived the accident with few scratches. I stood up slowly and was trembling a bit.

Thanks a lot God, no fracture too, I prayed.

I slowly walked to the bike and the cow was happily chewing the leaves on the side of the road without knowing the fact that it had caused an accident. I was bleeding a bit too in the hands and in my knees. I picked up the bike, checked if things are fine with it then rode it back home.

“What happened?” Akshay enquired.

“An accident, I skidded and fell on the ground” I answered, “I went to the hospital, and got some first aid. Don’t worry”

I went to my room and was changing into my pyjamas. I slid my hands into my pant pocket to take the bike key out but it wasn’t there. I searched in all places. But the key was not found.

“Akshay, I think I forgot my keys in the bike. I’ll go down and check if I had left it in the parking area itself” I told Akshay and opened the door and walked towards the lift.

“Okay, come soon, by the way, I smell something wrong. I smell gas in here. Did you switch off the stove?” He asked

“No yaar, I just entered my room and found the keys missing. See, I didn’t change my dress too” I replied.

“Okay you carry on, I’ll check in the kitchen” He said. I entered the lift and pressed “G” to instruct the lift to take me to the ground floor. As the lift descended from the seventh floor, my mobile ringed and it was Akshay. I was puzzled on what made him give me a call.

“Hello, what the matter?” I asked him.

“The antique watch, did you do anything to it?” He asked.

“Hey, stop that thing now. Did you check from where the gas is leaking?”

“Yea I checked the Cylinder in the kitchen. It is switched off properly. So no problem with ours and I guess it may be from the nearby kitchen in the flat adjacent to ours”

“I see”

“Now answer me, did you do anything with the watch?” He asked me again.

“No I didn’t do anything.” I answered. Only after answering I remembered that I changed the time ten minutes faster. But what is his concern now? I wondered.

“Hey Akshay, Yes, I changed the time, ten minutes faster, before the afternoon nap. Now I remember. But what is the matter? Is it working fine? Do we have to visit the shop again?” I asked.

“Kishore, do you realize that the accident is because of that? Since you changed the time ten minutes faster, it caused an injury in the form of an accident. I told you before not to take any chances with it”. Then I could hear his laugh and giggle.

“Dude, don’t act funny. This accident has nothing to do with the watch. By the way, why do you want to ask such a question to me now? Is that watch working properly?” I asked him.

“NO” came the reply.

“No? What happened? And by the way we have another spare cylinder in the room, behind the refrigerator. Check that too if the smell is because of that” I told him.

“Yes dude, the watch is not working because I dismantled it. I ripped it open” his answer was followed by a loud blast; an explosion that agitated my mobile. When the lift opened in the ground floor, I could see people shouting and running in the stairs.

Someone came running towards me, “Mr Kishore, a gas cylinder blasted in the seventh floor house. The inmate is seriously injured.”

My heart stopped for a second

As I entered my room amidst the crowd, I saw Akshay burnt and severely injured by the blast. His breath was slowly getting subsided as people around them were fanning his charred body. Someone was calling ambulance. I stood motionless. The dismantled antique clock was lying on the floor, with the cloth underneath it, bearing the golden embroidered words.

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Finding a seat

Scientists are not born genius!

They acquire knowledge from things around them. All those theories and principles people speak did not come from thin air as such. Great minds had spent time on simple things and discovered great things.

I, as a software techie spend almost one sixth of my twenty four hour in bus commuting to office which is situated terribly outside the city limits. And commuting back home from Office consumes minimum of two hours. Tired and drained after work I run to the bus bay to get myself settled in a comfortable seat for the next two hour journey.

You know what? Getting into the bus is not a big deal, but getting a comfortable seat is a big deal. I’ve listed a few findings using which you can help yourself find a comfortable seat.

Assuming that all corporate buses have the seating like XXX on one side and XX on the other side, I hereby propose the following theories.

  1. The window seats tend to get occupied first on both 2 seaters and 3 seaters except on rainy days
  2. The back seats get filled largely than the seats in the front.
  3. 2 Seaters are more comfortable when they are occupied by two thin persons.
  4. Only 2 persons feel comfortable sitting in a 3 seater.
  5. When the 3 seaters are getting occupied, first the window seats, then the ones in the aisle.
  6. The probability of the third seat in the 3 seater getting filled is minimum, when it is already occupied by two persons in which one is male and the other one is female and the middle seat is free.
  7. Stranger males and females never sit beside each other in a two seater, unless they have no other option to choose the one.
  8. A female will always give a thought to occupy the middle seat in a 3 seater when it is already occupied by two males. So if she has not other go, she gets an aisle seat.
  9. A male will never give a thought to occupy the middle seat in a 3 seater when it is already occupied by two females. But he has to give a thought on what the two ladies will think. So if he has not other go, he gets an aisle seat.
  10. ‘Love birds’ always tend to occupy a 2 seater and towards the back, so that nobody can hear the koo-chi-koo talks.
  11. Pretty girls are always engaged in mobile conversation throughout the journey.
  12. Girls open their hair, release the band then tie it again, before getting down.
  13. Long hour journey is always accompanied by iPods, mp3 players, mobile players, Portable Media Players etc.
  14. The two hour bus journey will pass like a two minute bus journey when accompanied by a friend who you meet after a very long time.
  15. We wish to sit beside the girl on whom we have crush. When you are in a 2 seater, you always expect the girl on whom you have crush will occupy the seat beside you, when people board the bus in a particular stopping and one by one fill the seats.
  16. People like to sit near the window which is under our control. The opening and closing, adjusting knob of the glass slide etc should be near our seat. If it spans to the next seat behind ours or in front of ours, those seats are occupied last.
  17. You tend to look at other’s mobile screen who is sitting in the seat next to yours when they message or make a call. This mostly happens when you are sitting in the aisle seat and the person who is sitting one row behind you in the aisle will have a clear view of yours
  18. Many guys hesitate to ask a girl “If someone is coming?” so that the empty seat beside her can be occupied, when she is sitting alone in a 2 seater.
  19. During rainy days, people close the glass slide fully, without leaving a small gap. This increases the humidity inside the bus and causes suffocation. But they cannot be blamed; rain drops find its way even through the small gap.
  20. You always want to sit in the same seat daily whenever you board the bus. If someone is sitting in your place, you feel disappointed.
  21. Our mind works like 100 core processor, when you get into the bus and scan the bus to find a comfortable seat, even though the bus is half empty.

Other things which are worth mentioning here is as below which is contributed by my friend Rengarajan. I too wanted to mention this but these thoughts didn’t strike me at that time. These points have been adopted from the comment section!! Thanks a lot for the contribution!! 🙂

22. Some of the guys reserve seats for their friends.. So that creates more disappointment especially when we come late and find few seats..

23. Although we use the same bus for many months and travel with pretty much the same people throughout the days, most of the people doesn’t know each other. Conversations will be within small closed groups. (Exactly!!! Many people are known to us just by their looks and not by name or in person!!)

24. Most of the girls sit with their legs completely folded and over the seats.. like sitting at home! They eat something on the bus.. almost always..(hehe guys too at times. Not only girls!!)

25. Some people will talk office stuff while in the bus.. like do this, do that… or taking a call from onsite or so..(Yea they do talk like open this file, login to the remote machine. the value of DEF_INIT is NULL, so set it in the second loop. Send out the meeting request. I’ll do the SLA report tomorrow and all stuffs 😀 )

26. Most of the people talk about real estate, new gadgets (mobile phones..) or vehicles or switching companies!

27. Several days, we can find a few new people.. when its a pretty girl, we wish that girl should come regularly..! (100 % true!! :D)

But, choosing seats are very important according to me.. as IT professionals in Chennai work long hours and travel long too! So.. this Bus journey which is taking a major part of the day is used by most of the people in several different ways. Like, thinking about the pending tasks, planning for the days to come, reading newspapers or magazines, for some of the people, it is the time when they call their families if they are living alone.. For some, its the best ever time to sleep!

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll try to add more if I observe anything new.  There are many more things which I would have missed. You can add it here!!

That’s the Kally’s law of bus journeys!!