Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

79. Simply Great

It was a routine travel for me. I was traveling from Pune to Nasik for office work. I was not much enthusiastic about going to Nasik, so I had not booked ticket in advance. From Shivaji Nagar, a suburban State Transport bus stand, a bus leaves for Nasik after every 30 minutes. I was traveling during an ‘off season’, so was not much worried about crowds and waiting time at the bus stand.

I reached the bus stand and was happy to see that there was no queue at the booking window. Within a second, I understood the reason. The only bus available at that hour was Shivaneree – an air-conditioned Volvo bus, named after a place where the famous King Shivaajee was born. I like the name of the bus very much – that is bit sentimental I know. This bus ticket is costly; nearly double the regular luxury bus (named as Asiad – the 1982 Asiad local transport bus model is widely used by Maharashtra State Transport Board - Mahaamandala). It is much costlier than the regular bus service – commonly known as ‘lal dabba’ – the red and yellow color bus. Naturally, many potential travelers preferred to wait for half an hour more and travel cheaply.

I took the ticket, the booking clerk handed over a newspaper and 100 ml water bottle to me. These two things are supposed to be complimentary! I always find such offers funny. If I am spending three hundred rupees for the ticket, can’t I spend three rupees for newspaper and ten rupees for water bottle? But our society suffers from a disease called ‘free gifts’. During my earlier booking I had politely refused to accept these two free gifts. On that occasion I had to discuss the issue with at least five officials and so I had given up. They had a point. If some free gift is not distributed properly, it accounts to corruption was one of the arguments. Though I was not fully convinced, I was tired of discussing non issue.

The girl sitting next to me did not give any response to my smile. When the co-traveler does not want to talk, what else you can do? Just watch things around and relax. The bus was moving with adequate speed, no disturbance of movie or songs. Some people were loudly talking into their mobile phones, some were sleeping, and those traveling in groups were laughing and chatting. Everything was just normal.

The bus stopped at the food mall. I went to the book stall and purchased two books and ice-cream. By the time the bus renewed its journey, I was engrossed in the book.

Suddenly the driver stopped the bus at the roadside. He opened the bus door and shouted “Come quick, run”. Now this was supposed to be a nonstop bus (except for the tea break) and whom was the driver inviting? Everybody stopped whatever s/he was doing and looked at the driver – some with question mark, some with irritation, some with pure eagerness. I too stopped reading and was wondering what exactly the driver is doing? The air was full with anticipation.

And there came 7-8 girls, all very young, may be in the age group of 8 to 10. They were laughing excitedly. The girls suddenly brought a joyful energy into the bus. Couple of us, who were sitting in the front row, had opportunity to smile and talk to the young girls. They all stayed in the small village by the roadside and everyday walked two kilometers (one way) to the school. Today, they had some kind of examination (unit test I believe) and they were happy that the examination went well. They were walking back to their village and suddenly the driver had kindly given them lift. Just in the next five minutes, their village came and they alighted down, thanking the ‘driver uncle’ and asking him ‘when is your duty next on the route’! The departure of the girls created a vacuum for a moment.

The girls had as if electrified the bus, recharged us, everybody was fully awake and surprisingly everyone was smiling. The innocence of those girls brought a new life. Even the young girl sitting next to me smiled and said to me, “good to see village girls going to school.” People stopped talking into their cell phones and started interacting with co-passengers. The old man in the front seat, added some kind of remark and everybody was talking about those young girls with love and joy.

I was really interested in the action of the driver. “Is it your native village?” I asked the driver, and he had a story to share.

With all smiles the driver told, “About a month ago, my bus had some problem. I was not able to drive it further. I just waited on the highway for mechanic to arrive. But somehow it was raining heavily; the mechanic at the next bus depot was on leave. So, the officials had to arrange for a mechanic from a bus depot at 100 kilometer distance. You know, how our offices work. It took two days for the mechanic to arrive. There was no hotel nearby. The villagers brought food and tea for me during those two days. Some of the young boys accompanied me during the night – you know, I couldn’t leave the bus. All the boys and girls in the village came and talked to me, they played games with me, and they sang songs to entertain me. You see, it was not at all their duty to help me. I was unknown to them; I don’t belong to this area. But they helped as if I was one of them. Their action touched me. If they had not supplied me food, I had no option but to stay without food and water. If they had not given company, I had no option but to stay alone under the sky. I am one of them now. Whenever I drive on this route, I give them lift. I know it is against the rules, but they are good people and they are poor. Would you allow those young kids to walk in the hot afternoon when you are traveling in an AC bus?”

“No, you did the right thing,” was everyone’s spontaneous response.

It is amazing that there are still people around who offer unasked help without expecting any returns. And it is more amazing that there are still people around who understand such help and reciprocate the favor in good spirit. The world continues to progress because there are such simple people, who may never make headlines, never get the name, fame and wealth to which the world salutes. However, they are the real movers and motivators. They are simple and great people! Simply Great!!

I value innocence especially because I live in ‘use and throw’ kind of culture, everyday I face shrewd mob and purposeless action is rarity here. There are times when I need to feel confident that there is nothing wrong in being innocent and helpful.

I look forward traveling to Nasik. I hope I will meet that driver again, meet those girls again and share their smile, their joy, their peace, their togetherness, and their selflessness.


  1. That was such a heartwarming post.

    I am just back from a similar Shivneri trip on the Mumbai-Pune section, and I have always found the drivers and various officials (that appear intermittently at stops) very child-friendly.

    It makes it fun for kids to travel. Simple things like shouting out the name of the stops as you approach Mumbai.

    A little 7 year old, noticed the driver announcing stops like Belapur, Vashi etc, and went up and asked him ,"Sion ala ki tumhi amhala ordoon sangaal ka ? (=will you shout and announce when the stop for Sion comes?", and the driver said " Me ordeen pan saangnaar nahi (=I'll shout but I wont tell)", whereupon everyone in the pass laughed...

    So much nicer than automatic moving text announcements in trains.....

  2. wonderful story indeed!
    everyone knows the kind of look people wear when they travel by shivneri! its some highly smug and haughty look for absolutely no reason. i guess the price of the travel makes them feel too precious to smile!
    And those girls on the other hand were too rich in that context! they spilled happiness abundantly, without holding back!
    very simple and lovely story!

  3. Wonderful ! And heart warming ! I often times feel there is enough and more 'nice' things happening around us that needs far more coverage and mindshare !

    Like the young girls who brought so much cheer and a different energy to the bus, such posts really charge people up and can change a world view !

    Everything is not wrong with the world ! There are pockets of joy and happiness ! And possibilities for the future reside right there !

    Super post !

  4. wow! What a wonderful experience to share.Loved the read and I agree that they are simply great! Who else but children, who can make this world worth living in. Kudos.

  5. Thanks Ugich Konitari for sharing such a beautiful moment with me.. that brought me a happy smile :)

    anunja, I have always found that the most simple things are the most lovely..beware that the converse may not necessarily be true ...

    Yes, Kavi, there are so many good things happening around. We do not have any control over the print media or any other media. But the blog is the place, where we are the masters! We can always use this place to spread positive and energizing message.

    Saras, welcome to Times Change. Yes, children make our life happier and it is our responsibility to make this place happy for them too.. so that they can continue to spread joy...

  6. That was such a refreshing experience you have shared.

  7. Thanks magiceye and Girish for your appreciation.

  8. I could feel the refreshing air in the bus made by the little ones, wachatana anandane pani aale dolyat ani kalajihi watali tya mulinchi. but for the moment, let's enjoy those lightened moments in bus

  9. "The world continues to progress because there are such simple people, who may never make headlines, never get the name, fame and wealth to which the world salutes."

    I have always believed in this... yes there is so much evil around but its still such simple people who keep the world a livable place..
    An eye-opening post...

  10. pk, let us enjoy the moment and not worry in anticipation.

    Dhiman, thanks for your encouraging words.


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