All in a day’s trip


With 15 minutes to go for the Jaipur-Delhi bus, I decided to give the toilet a try. I was directed to dark and damp room with an Indian styled pit-toilet. After finding the only dry spot to stand on, I precariously balanced my pants on my shoulders with nowhere else to hang them. Just when I was to get into business there was a loud crashing sound on my door, and the sound repeated itself in every five seconds along all the doors in the toilet complex. It was a muscular man in a hurry.

“Are you mad”, shouted my neighbour.

“Sis f***, one can’t even potty peacefully in this country”, shouted another in solidarity. Sensing our unionisation, the muscular intruder withdrew into silence. Just when I was about to get into the act, my door rattled again forcefully. The suddenness of the sound was shocking and momentarily scary, and it took renewed concentration and effort on my part to get back to business. I was left wondering how wrong the expression, scaring the shit out of someone is. In any case, this banging was not helping our man’s case. When I finally opened the door he rushed into the room pushing me, and I felt thankful that he at least let me out of the room in his hurry.

I had chosen an A/C bus for the summer heat in Rajasthan. Moments after the bus left the air colder was on in full blast. Half the vents in the bus were broken and passengers blocked them with their hankies, towels and anything they could find. When the bus stopped mid-way at noon, thirty of us streamed out to bask in the Rajasthani summer sunshine, and we watched others hurrying into the restaurant to get some cool air. The three hours were full of irony, improvisation, drama and all about mundane things like going to the toilet or travelling in a bus. I guess that’s what makes life in India intense, happening and fun, with something to smile about simple acts that would be consigned to dullness elsewhere in the world.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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