I took a bus ride from Kerala two days ago. I am not going to complain about bad roads, a mildly funny movie they played and getting nearly no sleep. I deserve all that for not booking in advance by some other more of transportation during holiday time.
See, all that seemed perfectly fine when compared to the co-passenger from hell sitting — what do you know — right next to me.
The fact that she rudely stepped on my gorgeous red overnighter to get to her seat immediately put her on my get-irritated-even-if-she-so-much-as-breathes list. Of course, her really UGLY hairband — that she didn’t need at all — put me off her some more. So apart from my decision to be prejudiced, she gave me enough reason to have the bus stop at some lonely place in the night and get her thrown out to the snakes or foxes or whatever.
1) She was a wriggler. You know the person sitting next to you, only lightly touching your elbow or knee and constantly shifting pulling pushing sliding skimming shaking ruffling shuffling clicking adjusting siddling expanding scooting – ALL THE BLOODY TIME! Tell me, is it just me?? Because I constantly find myself telling people close to me — many times only in physical proximity — to “oh! for god’s sake, settle down.” I was so close to telling this chick to pipe down before I tied her to her seat with her dupatta. But then this was one of those few times when motion sickness came to my rescue — I started to feel queasy and had to think of purple satin shoes and hot pink upholstery and a Waterman pen that I plan to buy next month to take my mind off my really squeamish tummy.
2) As soon as she sat down, she whipped out a phone and called the guy who just dropped her 1.786 nanoseconds ago. (How do I know this? I think they heard her up there in Kashmir when she said bye to him leaning over my seat, calling his name out.) In a situation like this, you can’t help but overhear conversations. So I don’t know what the deal was but apparently the guy on the other side owed her money or something and he was supposed to give it to her before she boarded the bus. So all I could hear was this chick saying over and over again in various accents (yes, there are various accents in Malayalam as well) that it was perfectly ok that he forgot, oh-hay that he forgot, ok that he furgawt, wokay that he fergoat, ok that he forgot. Who apologises for seven minutes for forgetting something?
Bad as that was, as soon she hangs up with multiple-apologetic Kochumon, she whips out another phone, frantically keys in a number and starts cribbing out poor K’mon and how he forgot to give her the money! After all those ‘forget its’ she actually bitches to someone else.
3) 155 more phone calls follow and each time she has to turn her head in 398 ways to get a signal on either of her phones. And her elbow is CONSTANTLY bumping into mine.
4) Phone calls over. She glances at me, glances out of the window, screws her pudgy neck around, glances at the rest of the bus. She glances at my bag, she looks at the driver (we were sitting right in front) she checks out a cute guy two seats behind. I’d have stood up and applauded if she had checked under the seats and in the miniscule overhead cabin. I like careful travellers who look for any signs of terrorism. Especially in a nightly Cochin-Bangalore bus.
And her elbow is constantly bumping into mine.
5) She adjusts her ugly hairband. And then begins the MOST irritating part of who she was. She obviously is completely clueless when it comes to levers and seats. Because she kept fidgeting and fidgeting and pulling and pulling and push… you get the idea. She kept yanking the lever that would recline her seat so she could sleep. After denting my PMS-ing right breast with her elbow three times, I leaned over and helped her with her damned seat.
Forget a thank you, she didn’t even crack a smile. Maybe she was actually looking for something she dropped on that side of the seat.
6) She covers herself up and settles down to sleep. I almost cry with relief.
She hogs the arm rest. Rudely pushing my gentle elbow out of the way, thank you.
7) And then, she snores. Snores. Snores.