humour, Travel

The Recliner

Those who fly frequently will agree that the amount of space on offer is much less than in an ST Bus. That is, on most domestic flights.

Yes, the ST buses vibrate and they do travel on sturdy roads and they do make a lot of cacophony. But if you feel like stretching your legs, you can do so in the space available below the seat in front, if it is not occupied by assorted luggage of fellow travellers. And small mercies, the seats of a ST bus don’t recline.

Which is not the case in a domestic flight. Recently a video is doing the rounds of the social media in which a woman tries to recline her seat repeatedly while the man sitting behind her, bangs and pushes her seat as he doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. This video is from one of the western countries but a similar story repeats in our country skies too.

The usual story on a domestic flight goes something like this…

After what seems like an eternity of waiting in the departure area, finally the announcement everyone has been waiting for, is made. Unfortunately the departure gate has changed at the nth hour and everyone has to hurry across to the new one.

The flight duration itself is only 55 minutes but I have already spent more than 2 hours at the airport terminal. I am not even counting the 2 hours I spent in a taxi while reaching the airport.

A further few minutes are spent waiting in a queue to get the ticket scanned then I am on my way. As I reach the boarding bus, it gets full and speeds away. Fortunately another bus is just behind and I get onto it.

Like most other travellers, I don’t rush to the seats but stand near the bus door. As others have the same idea, soon the door gets blocked and someone from the airlines has to show the space available inside to the people who are already inside, by wild gesticulations of his hands and vocal cords. A few passengers (not me) finally get the message and reluctantly occupy the vacant seats thus allowing others to board the bus.

Some old ladies give me obnoxious looks, as if they have seen a particularly ugly specimen. Not to be outdone, I return an obnoxious look of my own. Then the airport tarmac darshan commences, with the bus meandering across the tarmac in search of the aircraft.

In a few minutes I am out on the Tarmac, as soon as the bus comes to a halt and the doors slide open. Happy to be the first in line, I rush with my laptop bag towards the front of the aircraft but the checker takes one look at my ticket and directs me towards the rear. Muttering expletives under my breath, I run across but find myself in yet another queue.

Finally I am inside but the stewardess ignores me but has a bright smile for the old gentleman following me and even wishes him! I glance at him over my shoulder; he seems extra jolly. I scowl at him and move on.

It takes an eternity to reach my row, mainly due to various passengers trying to fit their assorted luggage In the bins above.

As always my luck, or the lack of it, takes me to a middle seat. I think this is the worst seat to get via reservation, unless someone interesting occupies the neighbouring seats. However Murphy plays his part and I sit between two especially healthy specimen.

Due to the ample leg space, the person occupying the aisle seat has to get up and stand in the aisle while I try to find room for my laptop in the bin above. I push and shove the other luggage but can’t seem to fit my humble laptop bag there. Finally I dump it below the seat ahead and plonk myself in the middle seat. As I try to make myself comfortable, I find that there is no armrest for me as the two gentlemen own that space.

As I sit waiting for the aircraft to take off, the aircraft sits on the tarmac waiting for the green signal from the air traffic control. Finally it does…

The congested leg space is made more constricted by my neighbours but I decide to make myself comfortable by reclining my seat once the aircraft completes its ascent. Pressing the knob, I jerk back my seat.

“Bloody fool!”, I hear someone cursing from behind me. Ignore, man…ignore…and I pretend to sleep.

The curses go on for some more time and then fall silent. They always do. I slip into deep sleep.

Suddenly I feel huge pressure on my knees and wake up with a start. I find that the man in front of me has reclined his seat. A few expletives escape my mouth and spread themselves like mist in the air. But the totally shameless man in front of me is unaffected. He just covers his eyes and starts snoring…I let off steam for sometime and then I resign myself to my fate.

Friends! Isn’t this story quite familiar?

Though some of the passengers are obnoxious, this spatial challenge inside an aircraft is mainly profit driven. Previously the space between two consecutive rows was 34-35 inches which has now been reduced to 30-31 inches and in some cases, to a flimsy 28 inches.

The recliner angle, which had been designed considering the previous distance between the rows, hasn’t changed after the distance was reduced.

The precise reason for the decreasing space inside a huge aircraft. The precise reason why you, me and them fight.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Travel, Uncategorized

The ST Bus

If you are living in Maharashtra, you must surely have travelled by a ST bus. And if you have not, then you have missed an experience.

For the uninitiated, ST bus is the State Transport bus. It is the lifeline of Maharashtra, especially for the large population residing in villages. The people lovingly refer to it as ‘lal dabba’ which translates into English as the ‘Red Box’. It is so named because it is literally a travelling box on wheels.

Many of you will remember the tin boxes which you carried to school, especially in the primary division. It used to hold the books, pencils, rulers, tiffin boxes and many other things. And at the start and end of school timings and during the recesses, the boxes of all the students used to make a great racket.

When the ST bus travels, it too makes a similar racket. This racket is caused by the assortment of metal trunks and other luggage of the passengers and by the passengers themselves who want to make themselves heard over the great racket. Above all , all the nuts and bolts which hold up the bus, make a big noise since the buses vibrate while travelling.

It seems these buses are manufactured by an ancient bus manufacturer, who has been bypassed by all the advances made in the field of bus body assemblies. After all no other buses vibrate as much.

And these buses have their moods…

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They will be taking you to your destination, your are trying to grab a few winks in all the cacophony, when suddenly the bus coughs and splutters and with a few jerks, comes to a halt in the middle of the road. And no amount of cajoling by the bus driver and the conductor is enough to make it go again.

As the bored passengers get down from the bus to stretch their legs or to answer nature’s call, the bus driver goes below the bus, with assortment of tools, with the conductor at his constant beck and call. Finally the driver gives up and emerges from the bowels of the bus, quite dejectedly.

In the meanwhile some of the passengers have managed to get lifts from private vehicles and goods trucks while some have decided not to give up on the resting bus. This attitude of the passengers, is what the bus likes and its mood changes for the better.

As soon as the driver decides to give it a one final try, the bus starts after a few false starts. With a great victory cry from the remaining passengers of ‘har har mahadev’ and ‘Ganpati bappa Mourya’ as they board , the bus is motivated to take them to their destination.

Now you will appreciate that I was very surprised to read in the papers that the ST Mahahmandal have decided to provide free wi-fi in these very buses. And the following images flashed before my eyes…

People have lined up in the ST stand for boarding the bus along with their assorted luggage, awaiting the bus to come inside the stand. Like always, their luggage consists of metal trunks, some carry pickle jars very delicately, some are holding long bamboo brooms made in their village, some holding their infants who have the propensity to emit ear piercing cries, while some are students who are going back to their colleges in the city after completing their vacations in their villages.

But most of them have one thing in common, they are all carrying their precious smartphones. After all they are very eager to use the newly provided wi-fi inside the bus.

Finally the bus arrives, the passengers rush to their seats inside . As they settle down in their seats they await for the bus to start. But more than that they await the passwords for wi-fi usage.

Already some are fiddling with their phones , they can see the wi-fi available but wait for the password is killing. You will never see a more silent ST bus, since no one, no longer wants to make small talk with their neighbours neither do they want to shout out to their friends sitting a few seats away.

They are not interested looking out of the window, neither are they bent on grabbing a few winks.

Then the moment arrives, the conductor distributes the scratch cards having the passwords to all those who ask for it.

And that’s it!

Those who take the scratch cards, they stop living in the present. Someone starts communicating with his office on office mail, trying to do his pending work so that he is not overly burdened when he finally rejoins office. A boy in the corner seat is trying to download the latest songs on his smartphone whereas another one is watching his favourite movie. A girl on the first seat is engrossed in chatting with her friends on social media all the while ignoring her best friend sitting beside her in the bus.

While the wi-fi users are happy, it has certainly mellowed down the environment inside the ST bus, which has always been known for its boisterous passengers.

But are we being over optimistic here. Maybe the wi-fi will not work. After all, a few years back, there was great talk of CCTV cameras being installed in public spaces. Now we know that most of them are mere non-working dabbas.

And the ST buses will continue to carry their boisterous denizens to their destinations across the state.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

The Bus

As man evolved, he understood that, compared to other animals, he was a weakling. This was apparent on his various hunting expeditions to provide food for his dependents.

In addition to many other parameters, he lacked in speed. Most of the time, his prey galloped away or ran away, and he was left panting by the wayside.

Thus his need to domesticate various other animals like the horse to gain speed. This was his preferred means of transport, whenever he needed to travel faster, till the industrial revolution, when mechanised vehicles were introduced in the form of cars.

But these cars ran on petrol or diesel which were in short supply, hence expensive.

He felt the need to transport a larger number of people at a time and thus a bus was born. Though it ran on the same expensive fuel, the higher numbers it carried made it economical. But this dependence on buses and cars for faster travelling meant burning of the highly polluting fuels which became one of the major factors of global warming.

Thus started the search for cleaner and inexpensive energy sources.

Electrical energy is cleaner and today it is taking baby steps towards electric cars but there are other cheaper energy sources too, on which buses and cars can run. Like CNG, LPG, etc. but man is never satisfied.

Which brings us to the news which I read today.

It seems UK has taken a very important step where they have test driven a bus run by poo.

Poo, did I say!

Coming to think of it, it certainly would be inexpensive as it gets generated regularly, mostly every morning. Of course, there are those unique specimens who generate it untimely. And then there are few who fall ill and cannot hold it in and have to rush to generate.

There are enough species who do this extremely important social work day in and day out and contribute to reducing the global warming. My salutations to the scientists who conceived this unique energy source, based on methane conversion.

The day is not far, when this poo generation takes the form of an industry where various species are lined together every morning to generate energy for the ever growing vehicle numbers.

Already I see the importance of certain middle Eastern countries going down and corresponding elevation of another country which already has such an industry lining the huge network of railway tracks all across the length and breadth of its vast geography. It just needs to be tapped and exploited in a proper way.

Yatindra Tawde