A lesson in trust in a crowded bus…

Every city has its own culture; something unique of which its citizens are proud. I recently experienced a so-far unmentioned and uncelebrated aspect of Chennai’s “culture”...

Boarding a packed MTC bus can be quite a task. After finding a foothold, I was welcomed aboard with stares conveying displeasure. I wondered how to reach the conductor for a ticket since we were separated by a sea of humanity. Time was slipping away and my heart skipped a beat each time someone mentioned the word “CHECKING” and “FINE” within my earshot.

Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was a frail lady. With a smile revealing her tobacco-stained teeth, she gestured to hand her the money, which I did reluctantly. After asking for my destination, she turned around searching for someone amid the clamour. It dawned upon me that she was at the business end of things when the rupee note started its journey from the magnanimous lady to a school boy, a working woman, an old man, two college students and a constable eventually ending with the conductor; changing hands at a constant pace from one passenger to another. Barring the exchange of destination, nothing slipped from their mouths.

The ticket reached me the same way. The exact change in coins and the ticket was handed over by the old lady and I didn’t try to hide my gratitude. I later realised that many such patterns were being created by different parties through the length and breadth of the bus.

This “open for all” process should be hailed for its effectiveness and trust since it has saved many from the blushes and the latest being a helpless Keralite: me!

The last time I tried the same in “God’s Own Country”, I parted with a Rs. 50 note and overheard someone whispering “he must be a fool”. That’s when I truly missed Chennai!

ANEESH S., Civil services aspirant

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