My adventures on a bus!

Published: February 23, 2013

I have become an avid bus traveller. I climb onto a bus looking like Angelina Jolie and come out looking like myself. PHOTO: AFP

My first few encounters with a public bus occurred when I started going to an institute to prepare for my entrance test. My father usually used to pick and drop me, but one fine day he wasn’t home and I needed a ride. In that moment of absolute insanity, I made a decision which became the biggest regret of my life.

I boldly declared in front of my family that I was old enough to ride the public bus. I thought I knew what I was in for; a long lecture on the dangers of travelling via buses alone concluding with a final order to stay at home.

I tried my luck anyway.

To my utter surprise, I was wrong. The next thing I remember was standing in a bus, pale faced and wide-eyed, my hands tightly gripping onto the bars and my music pumped up. I looked like an acrobat, ready for my next performance.

Somehow, I managed to reach the institute but my appearance can be gauged from the fact that everybody that I encountered that day asked me if my area was undergoing loadshedding.

I didn’t understand the reason behind this inquiry until I came home and looked in the mirror. My hair was a bedraggled mop. Moreover, my disheveled clothes and dirty shoes (which had been stepped on countless times in the bus) were enough to answer my own question.

Since that day, however, I have become an avid bus traveler. I climb onto a bus looking like Angelina Jolie and come out looking like myself when I have just woken up.

Then there is the street racing experience amongst the others.

One day I climbed on to a bus and settled down quickly on a vacant seat. I sunk into my seat and just when I was ready to dose off, I was interrupted. The driver spotted another bus in his rear view heading the same way as us – what happened after is obvious.

In fact, the expertise with which the driver manoeuvred the giant bus through the messy Karachi traffic at the speed of lightning will even put Michael Schumacher to shame!

I am sure the only reason Mr Schumacher stands as the person with the most championships under his belt is because a Karachi bus driver never took part in a Formula One race. That day, I reached my destination half an hour early.

Also, that evening when I went to an amusement park with my friends, I politely refused to sit on the roller coaster; one electrifying ride was enough for the day, thank you very much!

Another day, I found a seat beside a woman whose sheer size I did not guess until I found half of my body suspended in mid-air (no offence to the rotund woman)! I was neither sitting nor standing; it was quite uncomfortable and an excruciating experience that left half of my body paralysed for the rest of the day.

Furthermore, as a safety precaution, I keep the bus fare in my hand before climbing onto the bus because once inside, it becomes a Herculean task to open your wallet and hold the bars at the same time while standing.

So, one day I was standing with the coins tucked safely in my hand when all of a sudden the bus gave a massive lurch. As a reflex, my palm opened and the coins went flying all over the floor and were quick to move in practically inaccessible corners. I gave up and took out a new set of coins.

As if on purpose, the bus swayed again, flinging the coins straight out of my hand!. Frustrated, I opened my wallet to discover a solitary Rs500. Unable to say that universal line “kiraya nahi hay” (I don’t have the fare) and then fight with the conductor, I gave the green note to the conductor.

Yes, I had given a Rs500 note for a Rs10 fare! Try getting change for that on a bus!

Any discussion on the buses is incomplete without background music. Music has been dubbed as “food for the soul” but the music playing in these buses is another story altogether. It looks like all the terrible singers of Pakistan have made a contract with the Karachi buses that only those cassettes (yes they still play cassettes!) will be played where the music has no rhythm and the singer continuously praises the “kaali kameez” of her beloved.

Equally dangerous as the music, are the women thieves that ascend a bus in groups. Soon after their descent, women start shouting that their valuables are missing. It’s true; it happens quite often.

These are only some of the adventures that I have gone through while travelling via the painted devil.

But, I know that this is not the end because each day is a new day which means a new destination, a new bus and a whole new adventure.

I’ll be back with more!

Read more by Raiya here or follow her on Twitter @raiyatweets

Raiya Masroor Hashmi

Raiya Masroor Hashmi

An engineer by profession and a writer by passion, she was a columnist for the Saudi Gazette's youth supplement and has written for Chowk.com, Young Times, Teenstuff and Spider Magazine. She tweets as @raiyatweets (twitter.com/raiyatweets)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Carl

    Just read your twitter timeline – you seriously think apostates from Islam should be killed? Quite unbelievable… Recommend

  • Jav

    What’s the point of this blog? I don’t get it. Somebody please explain to me what kind of adventures @author is referring to? Recommend

  • The Khan

    I loved this blog.
    Nothing beats a bus experience in Karachi. During the school days, i had to take the bus a lot and i hated it but now when i am in Canada and i started using this boring old dull service called GRT, i started missing the good old days.Recommend

  • http://Seoul Faraz

    This reminded me of my college days and brought a smile. I used to cringe at the thought of having to take a bus to school whenever I had to. Recommend

  • AA

    reminded me of university times :)
    very well written:)Recommend

  • Dads

    No one groped ?Recommend

  • just_someone

    another rich girl who has never had to travel on the bus like us regular folk for whom the journey that thousands take everyday is an ‘adventure’.
    I went to the best school in karachi but came from a background that was poor compared to my peers (although we were well to do in the sense we had food on our table everyday). i started travelling to school on a public bus when i was in 6th grade since it was really wasteful in my opinion to pay school vans. None of my peers would travel on a public bus, most didnt till their O’s or A’s. When I got in my O’s and A’s, I would hear these same kind of stories from my peers who would ride the bus for the first time in their life as something ‘fun’ or an adventure.
    this elitist dribble is exactly why the tribune is not a newspaper since no one who writes here is a journalist in any sense of the word!Recommend

  • just_someone

    btw, let me say, when I said i rode the bus for the first time in 6th grade, I meant alone. I have ridden in buses with my mother/siblings while growing upRecommend

  • just_someone

    @Dads:
    You, good sir, must be Indian! Since thats what it seems you guys do on buses, when you are polite!Recommend

  • Raheel Ahmed Khan

    Burger logRecommend

  • Raiya

    @just_someone:
    You are wrong when you say I just traveled on a bus for an adventure. This piece is inspired from my university days. I took a public bus to reach my university all the four years I studied there.I know it is a long and tiring process to wait for the bus of your route in the heat, then ascend in a crammed interior and travel standing all the way. It is uncomfortable and totally inhumane bit it is a pity that our government does not pay attention to such an important issue. I used to face all these problems but recently I have not traveled in a bus for a long long time and looking at all those bus rides in retrospect, there is no denying the fact that a Pakistani bus ride is the funniest ride you will ever get anywhere in the world.:)Recommend

  • saba

    Interesting and totally relatable blog..surprised at ppl who can even make a mes out of this well written uncontroversial fun kind of a piece..the pathetic condition of public buses is highlighted in a light humorous manner..dat doesn’t in any case show writer’s burgerpanRecommend

  • Al-Chemisto

    Speed of light or lightning?Recommend

  • Shoaib

    Nice blog, but paying Rs 500 for Rs.10 just wansnt something smart. Do ask a poor sometime (if you get time for it) the importance of Rs.490. Recommend

  • Anonymous Cannon

    You have only experienced a handful of experiences, I am sure people from the rear end of the bus have more to tell since we see the full picture :)

    moreover, another inaccurate punch line/title of the blog by ET!! Why don’t they just let the author’s title stay, I call it tampering with the art! Recommend

  • Imtiaz

    If you call this “adventure”, then I am an adventurer since last 14 years and I didn’t even realize it….Recommend

  • Nida

    It was very difficult for travelling in bus.. may be it is splendid adventure for writer but not for those girls who are travelling in bus on daily basis for saving money because unable to travel in private bus for them. Government should pay attention on this issue …Recommend

  • Umair S Khan

    A very well written account of what happens in the public transport. But one thing you should have highlighted is the lack of space provided for female passengers, I personally believe a little more space shall be given.The thing you said about Formula 1 & Schumacher i agree with it 101%, now I come to think about those freaky rides…I consider myself lucky to be alive now (i think I should be offering some nafil for shukrana :p)…
    But I couldn’t stop laughing at some of the comments made by the readers…..I mean how quickly people jump to conclusions about anyone.Recommend

  • Umair S Khan

    @just_someone: being rich/elite has no connection to travelling on buses……Recommend

  • Tariq Amin

    @saba:
    Agreed with SabaRecommend

  • http://gmail.com Iftekhar Khokhar

    Travelling on public transport that too on the part of a lady is highly touchy & risky. Thank God you reached destination safely. This society has many many flaws. Amid all this, compulsion is the only factor favouring use of public transport. We can be a victim of any sorts, God forbid. Adventurism is highly deplorable here, given the state of affairs in our society. Recommend

  • Raiya

    @Al-Chemisto: I wrote speed of light…it was changed by the editor. I think both are correct. Recommend

  • MR Humair

    Your blog is so true .Few months back because of 20 minutes Buss drive at shar-e- fasal every day I quit my job .I have been traveling on bus when I was doing my Alevels .When my parents or brother were busy, I take a ride on N-4,20,abdullah and go home .There are several times I sit on the wrong bus because I am the only one is my family and youngest of all who travels on a bus .Some times both of my cars are occupied by my family leaving me no choice .keep up the good work .Recommend

  • Stranger

    Childish blog .Recommend

  • nazia

    such a burger post . a kid sharing her experience of travelling in bus once in a blue moon while there are thousands of people in Karachi/ Pakistan who travel daily for their work and studies in public buses . It’s fun or not , it wrinkle clothes or not , they have to.

    this blog was more like a personal opinion on public buses, far away from REAL LIFE things. . Recommend

  • Anum

    Hilariously interesting!!
    Well done!! :)Recommend

  • Palwashay

    I love this blog.I remebr my time when i had to travel by bux to school with my extra ordnary smart clasfelow,she used to keep a 10 rupee note along with a school id card inordr to get studnt’s discount.Recommend

  • mehreen

    @nazia:
    Absolutely agree…for most it is a part of life. People who have been brought up in a protected environment can never realize thisRecommend

  • Raiya

    @nazia:
    I have mentioned in a previous comment that I did not travel on a bus once in a blue moon but I traveled on a bus in all the four years of my university so people who think this is a burger post should rethinkRecommend

  • A.S

    Hahahaha…Entertaining read !Recommend

  • Jude Allen

    @ just someone: I think everyone has the right to maintain a blog… if the writer seems to stir up attention, she’s obviously a better writer than some – so yep, rich kid or not, it’s an interesting read.

    FYI: I have traveled in buses all my life (because I couldn’t afford any other mode of transportation back then.) Travel by bus today would be insanity considering the targeted killings, robbery, every day traffic jams / road blocks, strikes, bus burning (now very common) and all sorts of atrocities which were very uncommon before. Maniac bus drivers are the least of ones problems in today’s day and age. Please walk-the-talk before penning your thoughts. Recommend