Monday, May 10, 2010

Pune and Public Transportation!

Although the course that brought me here finished a couple of days ago, I decided to stay for a few more days of 'self study' with a friend, Saanchit, from Nepal and another friend, Lili, from Canada. As the cliche goes, the journey was more important than the destination. 

From the comfort of our western hotel in Bombay, we took the public train to the 'bus station'. Trains are trains, I suppose, but this one was compartmentalized by gender and became so packed that people crowded on the outside of the train. Ours was not as packed as this one, but I was too uncomfortable to take my own picture since Lili and I opted to take the men's train to stay with our friend and I felt that was already drawing enough attention to us. 

The bus station was comprised of a line up on a sidewalk. 40 some degrees out and daylight fading, we waited in line for an hour and a half for an air-conditioned bus, only to learn that it would be sold out for another hour or two. Unlike most lines that I've experienced (admittedly, most have been in North America), people in this queue didn't seem the least bit disturbed by the heat, the wait, or the news that there would be more waiting ahead. The bus station is a strange place to get a window into the way of living of another place but, to me, this spoke volumes. In north america, we value time so much that we carry blackberries in order that we can not 'waste' any spare moment. In india, waiting for hours for a bus ride that will take another few hours is no big deal. We ultimately gave up on waiting for the air-conditioned bus and opted for the 'local bus'. By now it was dark, which meant that the landscapes that I had hoped to observe along the ride would now be masked by darkness. 

Lili fell asleep almost immediately, while I found it difficult to do so while my clothes were still drenched in sweat. I wondered if my shirt had ever been soaking wet for so long. We eventually disembarked at a 'rest stop' at the side of the road. It was dark and felt a bit sketchy. None of us knew where we were and we saw no sign to offer us a clue. But, miraculously, a friend of Saanchit's eventually rolled up in a car and took us the rest of the way to Pune. 

Pune itself is a college town; young and affluent. It is also home to a few religious centres. As if three significant but distinctly different religions weren't enough for a country to deal with, India seems to be a hotbed for the emergence of new belief systems. In our effort to discover more of this, we visited the Osho Ashram. Everyone finds their own path to enlightenment. I will keep looking. 

We opted to pre-book the air-conditioned bus for the way home this time. Unfortunately, bad traffic prevented us from reaching the train station in time. So, Saanchit's friend chased the bus down with his car. It was a high speed chase! He knew all of the shortcuts between stops, but it was difficult to bridge the gap that we had created by our late arrival. We were a good half hour out of the city before we caught the bus.


Blogger BikingBakke said...

My favourite ever quote of yours!

"Everyone finds their own path to enlightenment. I will keep looking."

August 19, 2010 at 7:58:00 AM MDT  

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