“Hello, you are not supposed to sit here. I was standing here right in front of the passenger who just got down. I should get this seat and not you” a young man in his 20s told this to another young man of similar age.
“It is obvious that you were not standing in front of that passenger, had you been standing there, you would be sitting here in my place” replied the young man.
“I was covering more than half of the front space of the passenger who was sitting here before. When the person was getting up from his seat you slipped into his place and that was very indecent.”
“I do not need to learn decency from a liar. You know very well I was covering more than half of the front space of the person who was sitting in the same seat where I am sitting now. If you want you can ask any passenger and they will corroborate.” He started looking at each and every passenger hoping to get their support. But nobody said anything, either to support or to oppose him. Probably standing people do not like to support sitting people or probably they were enjoying the argument which was kind of entertainment for them.
While travelling by a bus in route 42, I was witnessing this argument.
While studying M. Sc. at Ballygunge Science College, I used to travel by train from Brace Bridge railway station; the scheduled time of departure of the train, which I used to take, was 9:25. I used to get down at Ballygunge junction and the university campus was only 10 minutes’ walk. If I had ever missed the train, I walked up to the bus stop on the bridge. The train almost always used to arrive late, on some days by even up to 10 minutes but on rare occasions when I reached the station late, even by few minutes, I saw that the train was leaving the station.
It was one of those days, while travelling by bus I was witnessing something which was a very common incidence at a bus in Calcutta.
Citizens of Calcutta had huge obsession for bus seats. They were ready to fight for a bus seat with as much passion as Soviet Army fought during the World War II. I had seen people waiting half an hour at a queue in a bus terminus, from where buses were departing at an interval of every 10 minutes, just to get a seat in the bus and that too for travelling a distance of about 9 to 10 kilometers for which the travelling time was not more than 45 minutes. Sometimes they were ready to sacrifice an additional 10 to 15 minutes just to be seated in the middle of the bus on a seat where they would feel posterior jerk rather than lateral jerk when the bus would start and stop. Even after sitting in a bus they would discuss about the bus seats, pros and cons of different seats &C.
While this drama was going on in the bus, few people forgot to get down where they were supposed to and they started blaming the bus conductor.
Few minutes later the argument reached its summit point. It was verbal abuse from both sides, each shouting at the top of his voice. Still nobody was trying to stop them by uttering few words of wisdom. People of Calcutta were true believers of freedom of speech. I was also hearing few comments coming from different corners “Why use mouth when you have hands.” People were not only great believers of freedom of speech but they were also ardent believers of freedom of expression and in many cases the expression turned physical.
“What will you do, I won’t give you the seat, you rascal. Do whatever you can.”
“Do you want to see what I can do” the person who was standing replied. He started pushing his sleeves upwards.
The person who was sitting also started pushing his sleeves, while remaining seated in his dream seat, of course.
One gentleman, who was standing at the other end of the bus, came closer to the two gentlemen.
He glanced at them and asked, “Pradip, Tapan what you two are you doing?”
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