Jump on any hurtling hunk of metal and your bound to experience the ride of a lifetime – India…a place where anything capable of being pushed, pulled or propelled is a mode of transport.
Advice on how to travel on buses in India:
Imagine being a sardine jammed in a tin that is strapped to the muscular backside of a bucking bull. Riding a bus in kolkata is as jerky, jolting and organ rearranging as the image suggests.
Avoid being killed by darting traffic of all forms as you stand precariously on the road – watching and listening to the beckoning calls of the ticket men as the buses they straddle swoop in towards your position.
Rarely do they stop – thus you must hastily identify the correct bus, in the next millisecond begin running, then undertake a leap of faith in the direction of the bus doorway, arms outreached to grab onto anything metal.
Finding a seat is usually an impossibility. Having a railing to hold to stop being flung around within the metal tin of a bus, equally improbable.
Exiting an India bus requires similar athletic prowess to boarding!
Firstly you must whack some piece of metal to signal to the ticket man and driver that you wish to exit, weave like a snake between densely packed, sweaty bodies and once again leap into the air, legs swinging back and forth, evolving into a running action.
While in mid-air, glance left, right, below and above you to ensure that you will not be converted into a fesh but bloody naan bread.
If you are lucky your hastily moving legs will enable a relatively smooth reconnection with the pothole laden asphalt road.
Take the next 10-15 minutes to let the adrenaline dissipate, for you to regain a regular heart beat, and for the streaming beads of sweat to disappear from you entire body.
Every journey in India is unique, adrenaline packed and death defying. The efficiency of the hybrid transport system is highly efficient and inexpensive. No road, path or lane is too narrow for some mode of transport to enter. Although appearing to be chaotic, which it is, the system works beautifully in its madness.
The transport system in India’s cities, particularly kolkata’s is a model that should be studied by first world cities the globe over!