It was a sunny afternoon as I alight from the public bus while it ambles to an almost-stand-still. Filled with an immense sense of accomplishment at having undertaken my first solo bus trip without being under the wing of an endearing extrovert, I walk briskly along the pavement. Contemplating as to whether I should take another dive of interaction or walk the next 750m home in blissful silence with no human interaction whatsoever, I keep walking. Out of the blue, I see a share-autorickshaw – A concept birthed by putting together a public bus and a semi-private autorickshaw – commonly termed ‘share-auto’. I make the decision to keep my new ‘break-out-of-the-shell’ streak rolling and I walk to the share-auto mustering every ounce of my newly acquired ‘extrovert’ skills. After all, practice makes perfect, doesn’t it? I inform the driver of my destination, get into the vehicle, reach into my backpack for the change, and get it ready in my hand to avert any unnecessary delay while paying for my ride – Tell me, who likes that mini-wave of discomfort at having someone wait as you delve into your bag searching for change? Not me. A wave of confidence washes over me as I sit in quiet mirth at having secured my second mode of public transport on the same day all on my own. Another lady gets in with me and sits beside me. The vehicle starts moving towards my destination and I sit clutching the change thinking if there is a certain process of disembarking from the vehicle once the destination is reached. As we near my drop-off location, the driver slows the vehicle. A vague observation as to how people board and disembark from public buses comes to my mind – Usually, the public bus doesn’t come to a perfect standstill but rather crawls at a tremendously slow pace and people just hop on or off the bus. I, being a first-time-share-auto-rider, proceed to put this observation into practice. As the vehicle slows down, I remove my backpack, place it delicately on the seat to enable optimum mobility, then move near the door. I reach for the door and open it. The door swings wide open and with one swift movement, I hop off the still-slowly-moving-vehicle. With my hands still on the door for additional support, I run alongside the vehicle as it grinds to a halt. I then, proceed to retrieve my backpack from the seat while the driver stares at me in shock and begins to vehemently iterate that I may be out of my mind. I look at him with an expression of indifference. After all, isn’t this the normal way as to how people disembark from public transport? “What’s wrong?”, I ask as I hand him the change with unbridled promptness. I walk away as he frowns and wags his head at me and drives away into the bustling streets.
‘I’ve done it! I have conquered the world of public transport! What a victory’, I give myself a mental pat on the back as I walk the rest of the way home under the sweltering heat of the afternoon sun.