Thursday, July 26, 2007

Safe Journey

As I opened my eyes to say good morning to the wonderful Thursday, I felt my head was so heavy that I thought not to try even to lift it up from the pillow. Ah! This migraine is putting me down too much these days. I messaged my officemate that I will join the work only in the afternoon session. And mentioned in the sms that I am having a bad headache! It has become an obvious reason these days. Brand Varun comes with a bad headache. To hell with the headache, I thought I will beat the migraine by putting myself back to sleep.
Got up again by 11 am. This time the head was slightly lighter. Feeling better, I thought its time to get ready and kick start the day. After reading the benefits of starting the day drinking water on the empty stomach, I have been starting my day that way recently. I reached out to take the water bottle; only to realize that I had drank every drop of it before switching me off yesterday. Determined to start the day with gulping some water down my throat, I gathered myself up and walked to the kitchen. Only then to realize that our house has gone water less yesterday. Wish I could go back to sleep and call it an off at office. I can only wish that!

My room mate was looking at me pitifully and announced, “peene ka panee nahee hai” (there is no drinking water).And he took his stare back to the Times of India. Irritated, I looked for the water vendor’s number and called them up asking to refill our tank. Then told myself that all I get to read is not true. I can start the day with out gulping water too! In fact I was doing so ever since I was born, till the day I read of the benefits. I was hoping that at least water is there to take bath and all. Switched on the geyser and got into the bathroom to get over all the morning wannabes.

After getting ready I asked my roommate whether we can have lunch together. He showed interest and got into bathroom to take bath and get ready. Well he was faster than me, got ready quickly. And we proceeded toward the hotel. After the lunch, bid him farewell and proceeded towards the bus stop. It’s already late. I was hoping there is not much issue at the office. A Volvo bus appeared, it was almost empty. Only few people. The traffic was also relatively less, its all because of the time. It’s almost 12.45 pm. The driver is a middle aged fellow, showing his thrill and excitement steering the Volvo. These buses are a real boon to the chaotic Bangalore traffic. It guarantees a smooth and hassle free air conditioned journey. The ticket also carries the Volvo class. It’s electronically generated and comes with “Happy Journey” message on it.

With the speed my bus was cruising, honking away all the minority vehicles which came its way. I knew it, with this speed and less traffic; I will reach office in relatively lesser time. Indeed it’s a Happy Journey. Volvo B7RLE bus comes with great features. Low-raise boarding. TV, radio, good seats, good leg room and air conditioning!!! Driving has never been better for transport bus drivers. The vehicle is fitted with an automatic gear box, power steering and rear view cam. Other special features include kneeling mechanism for the benefit of the aged and the physically challenged; wide, pneumatically operated doors to enable easy boarding and disembarking of passengers and compliant with Euro-III environment norms.

Now let me get bit technical about it. The B7RLE comes with an awesome engine. It is Euro 3 D7C275 Vertical 6 cylinder 4 stroke. Overhead valves, EDC injection, Turbo Intercooled. CIM Multiplex electrics. Displacement: 7.3 dm3, Output kW (hp): 202 (275hp) @2200rpm, Torque Nm: 1085@1200rpm. And disc brakes on both front and rear wheels. For Indian public transport takers who have never seen anything better than this, who have always boarded and descended from the buses which always resembled the match box buses their children made, it is already a cynosure. Traveling has never been better. All credit goes to the team who inducted these 7,500,000 rupee Volvo buses to Bangalore roads. They came, they saw and they conquered.

All for a price though. Like an auto rickshaw, the minimum fare on a Volvo bus is Rs 10.
It worked well with the middle class pliers.

With in 20 minutes the bus had covered almost ¾ of the total distance which otherwise took almost 40 minutes. I was joyous. Was thanking the government for giving us this Volvo delight. Today I noticed something unfamiliar with the Volvo bus drivers. The driver to this bus was honking furiously at every vehicle which came its way. Honking so hard that they had to push themselves out of this bus’s way. As a mighty war horse, our bus was thriving and pounding on the battle field, the poor road, which is narrower than our politician’s mind. The bus is cruising. Taking speed a public transport is not allowed to take. I was bit worried about the speed. I know the other passengers might have been too.

All in a sudden it happened, there was a bang sound, a scream and some screeching sound of metal, plastic and something else. The driver applied the brakes with all his might, as if testing the so called disc brakes, then opened the door and ran outside towards the rear side of the bus. The conductor followed him.
When I looked out of the window to see what really happened, I saw a middle aged man, a woman, and their bike lying on the road. God damn! The bus hit them! They were bleeding, but thank god nothing looked very serious. The lady was pointing towards the median of the road and was screaming. Suddenly one of the by passers who were helping the duo to get up and get to the side of road, ran towards the median and came back with a heavily bleeding kid, the duo’s daughter. She is hardly 3 year old. She injured her forehead and is bleeding a lot. And had swelled too. Since the time the person gathered up the kid, she is crying at the top of her voice. Dear god, I prayed, please not let anything happen to the kid. Please. Her injury looked bit serious.

I had got a printed slip, the ticket, promising the journey to be “happy”. But I am sure the family who were on the bike, never needed a slip to ensure that. They might be on the way back from a family outing. Or on the way to one. Must have been humming their family song or laughing to their favorite joke at the time when Volvo banged them and their happiness from behind. The journey became something which is farthest from being happy. A nightmare. May be the worst of the worst of the nightmares in their life. Now it’s not a happy journey for me too. For none of the passengers. I wish the ticket boasts a “safe” journey than a happy one. When one is Safe, one is Happy.

Driver of my bus was already getting trashed by the on lookers and by the father of the kid, who himself is injured and is bleeding. Mother of the kid, seems to be in state of shock. The kid, who was crying at her best, now stopped crying. Now she was staring at all those who gathered up there. Her stare was too harsh and too painful. One that we can never expect from a three year old. They couldn’t look into her eyes. They felt ashamed. I too felt ashamed. They new that the kid is asking what did she do to get this? She seemed to asking everyone what was her mistake. She was questioning every one of us, wasn’t she our responsibility? Wasn’t it us who forced her to come to this world? Isn’t she so young to know the bloodiness of the world she is asked to live in this soon? Yes she is. She is so young to even understand the difference between the bike and the bus. The make of the bus. The quality it assured. The safety it assured.

But why am I blaming the bus? What did it do? It was not in auto steer mode. It had a capable, healthy and eligible driver behind its steering. It had promised to stop when ever it was asked to. But the driver didn’t ask it to. If the bus had a soul, it must be screaming at its best to let know the world, it’s not its mistake. I know. We know. Whom to blame? We need someone to blame.

Oh yea, the driver! How could he forget with great power comes great responsibilities? How can he put the happy family through this nightmare of their life? Why did he do this to the kid? The three year old, whom, I am sure, never did anything to offend anyone. And my selfness, made me ask this too, why did he do this to me? Why did he spoil my day? But thank god, it’s just a day to me; he might have already spoiled the life of the kid. God forbid that happens.

They the mob, forced the driver of the bus to go along with the people who took the family to the nearest hospital. I really wish that there is a hospital so near. And all of them get all the needed medication on time.
I wish and pray that the kid be safe and sound. And the family gets back to their happy times soon. I want the bus people to write a “safe journey” too with the “happy journey” they boast on the tickets they give. I will be a preacher of safe driving and may be for helmet too. I would try to let the drivers know “with great power come great responsibilities”. But how? How can I?

I want the government who gave us the Volvo delight, to give us some responsible drivers too.

Have a safe journey people!!

No comments: