Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Bus

Shopping in America:
7 minutes in the car
30 minutes in the store
7 minutes in the car

Shopping in India:
5 minutes walking to the bus stop
10 minutes waiting for the bus
25 minutes on the bus
10 minutes walking
20 minutes on another bus
10 minutes walking
1-2 hours in the stores
10 minutes walking
5 minutes waiting for the bus
20 minutes on the bus
10 minutes walking
25 minutes on another bus
5 minutes walking

Riding the bus in India is like traveling via sardine can. And sometimes you sweat so much you nearly smell like a fish when you get there. Bodies press against bodies until the bus is full and still more get on. And you pay the same whether you are standing on the stairs at the open door barely clinging to the inside of the bus or whether you are one of the fortunate few who manage to get a seat. I stand more often than sit. During the busiest times of day being on the bus feels like playing Twister with two bodies for every colored dot on the mat. There you are, a tangled mess of human flesh, trying to keep from falling over as the bus stops and starts. There is no more room. But when the ticket manager wants to come through the middle of the jungle of human limbs yelling, “tickets! tickets!” somehow we squeeze room out of thin air and let him pass.

You might think I’m complaining, but I’m not. Somehow it makes me feel alive, part of something bigger than myself, like one living cell in the midst of the teeming mass of humanity. And going shopping always feels like an adventure. When I come back to the states and travel to Walmart alone in my spacious SUV, I might just fall asleep from boredom.


Husker6 said...

As I was reading, I was thinking that I shouldn't have complained in my heart today about my Walmart experience ..... still I vowed that I will never go on a Sunday again!!! Becky

lori seevers said...

Such a word picture - very accurate! :) Bless you for looking at those experiences as "adventures" and not as inconveniences and "terrible experiences"! That attitude will make all the difference in how you view this cross-cultural time - now AND when you come back!