If you have commuted in a city bus long enough, chances are that you have seen all these little routines that people do to each other in action!
Chapter 1: The Ten Minute Bait
Dude and Girl have to meet at some place at a particular time. Girl has already reached the place while Dude just got into the bus during the rush hour and is at least 40 minutes away. Girl gets impatient and calls him. Dude takes the call
Girl: Where are you? I have been waiting here for 15 minutes now! Dude: Hey, I am in the bus… almost there, just ten minutes
(The dude is at least 30 minutes farther from the truth!)
Ten minutes later, Girl calls again. The Dude, being a man of his word, still maintains his earlier “yeah almost there, ten minutes” stance till he is actually ten minutes away at which point he revises the ten minutes to “just five minutes”.
This, my dear friends is called the Ten Minute Bait. The idea is to make people wait ten minutes at a time for four or five times consecutively instead of making them 45 minutes in one go. It happens to work!
Some Dudes do the ten minute bait with real conviction. They even make up the landmarks they have just crossed to make the bait sound more real. I have seen Dudes in Thane claiming to have “just crossed Dadar… will be there in about ten minutes” to the Girl waiting for him at CST!
People's opinion on the morality of The Ten Minute Bait seems to be divided.
Telling the truth that it is going to take forty minutes has its advantages. It sets the right expectations. May be she can spend the forty minutes doing some shopping in the area instead of standing near the bus stop looking at the time impatiently and cursing how he is always late!
But telling someone that they have to wait for forty minutes to meet is not easy (unless you’re a doctor or a govt. employee). People don’t always handle the truth with grace. What if the Girl says, “40 minutes! … Listen, it’s almost dark and it is getting really late. Can we meet next time” and leaves?
The Dude has already invested a lot of time and effort into looking socially presentable for the evening and he’ll have to do it all over again! Besides, what is the guarantee that he won’t be late the next time? This is when the ten minute bait looks like a better option.
Homework: What approach would you take if you’re in the Dude’s place, the truth or the ten minute bait? What approach would you prefer if you are the one waiting? Write your answers in the comments below (There are no wrong answers!)
Chapter 2: The Long Distance Relationship
If you see someone who upon entering the bus immediately pulls out a headset and starts a phone conversation without even saying hello, you can bet that person is in a long distance relationship. Because that is what long distance relationships are – phone conversations that never really end!
Have you seen some of them? It is 40 degrees hot with 95% humidity. A hundred people are stuffed into a slow moving metal box with poor ventilation immersed in 120 decibels of obnoxious honking sounds. People all around are tired, suffocated, sweating and can’t even move their hands to scratch their necks and this woman is having a pleasant conversation in low whispers!
I wonder how they do that. I am beginning to think that being in a long distance relationship gives you superpowers. Okay, may be not a superpower that you can fight crime with but a superpower none the less!
Chapter 3: Earphone Jacks:
People are increasingly becoming boring in real life don’t you think? You can’t eavesdrop on a decent conversation anymore! Young people on buses are the most boring category of people there can ever be.
Do you know why? Because everyone is listening to something and they are connected all the time! With earphones plugged into company issued iPads, laptops or smart phones. The more middleclass type people are attached to their dumb-phones listening to FM radio.
Everyone is listening to something. It makes me wonder if an average twenty-something person of today would rather shut his brain off with unoriginal music than harbor a few original thoughts when there is nothing to do!
Chapter 4: Men’s coach vs. Ladies’ coach:
The way men and women behave when closely packed into finite space is very different. The stark contrast is best illustrated by the Mumbai locals.
Men, by and large, have a natural sense of camaraderie. (When there are no women around. The presence of a woman changes everything!)
If a few hundred men are stuffed into a single local train compartment and a new dude wants to get in, the guys are okay with it. They will pack themselves ass-to-ass, ass-to-crotch or whatever it takes to make that little extra space for the extra dude. But the ladies’ compartment… Boy, that’s a jungle out there!
It’s a completely different world. All men want in a crowded local is some place to stand. That is all they require. Women, on the other hand, want space. Place and space – you see the difference? A whole extra dimension!
They need space for their legs, they need space for their arms, they need space for their handbags and they also need enough space for their hands to search their handbags in case the phone starts ringing. This is the just the physical space we’re talking about.
In addition to the physical space, they also need “personal space”. Personal spaces are marked by invisible perfumed scents and can vary from a few inches to a few feet depending on factors beyond the purview of science and the boundaries of human knowledge. Also, there is no way of knowing the boundaries of a woman’s personal space without encroaching it!
Needless to mention, anyone crossing that invisible border will be strictly dealt with. Usually by stamping on the encroacher’s foot with a high heeled shoe or even worse – by being very mean! Apparently, the ladies’ coach is a very mean place.
Chapter 5: The Fair-weather feminists:
In buses, things between women are more civil. A certain number of seats (usually in the front) are reserved for women. A man can sit there but he will have to give it up if a woman walks up to him and expresses a desire to sit. Young women with feminist ideals are always looking for asserting rights like these.
I call them fair-weather feminists because their feminist ideals usually end with getting a seat in a bus or a place to stand in a queue.
But when it comes to bigger things like, say splitting the dinner bill, they suddenly transform into Disney princesses trapped and imprisoned in the dark restaurant (with soft lighting) waiting for the knight with a shining platinum credit card to rescue her from the evil Darth Waiter!
Chapter 6: Newly Married Public Display of Affection:
This is on the rise in recent times and seriously, it has got to stop! Look boss, the English media told you that that you are part of this new young, confident, upwardly mobile, globally aware Indian middle class that is proud of its Indian roots, not afraid to speak its mind, not shy to express its feelings and will not take any moral policing and you probably believe in that bullshit. I won’t judge you for that!
I also understand that she is your lawfully wedded wife and that you’re well within your rights to express your love for her in any manner that you deem appropriate. But while you’re at it, try keeping it above the neck area. And remember, slipping in your hand through a piece of her clothing in public is against Western Culture too!
Photo credit: Carol Mitchell
To be continued...