India. A country so unique & fascinating that all the words in my vocabulary could be used to describe it in some way & somehow that description would fall flat. Some people do a very good job at summing up their time in India, I was so awestruck that I don’t think I can. I’ll stick to telling one short story at a time.
We had stayed in Mumbai for a few days & had just flown in to Goa. Apart from taxis, bicycles & tuk tuks, we hadn’t used any other transport in India. Standing just outside the arrivals hall were dozens of taxi drivers offering their services at an astronomical price. My brother & I had planned to use the bus from the airport to Panjim & set out to find the bus stop. We never use busses in our home country &, therefore, neither of us were overly experienced with these types of systems. We were in for quite a surprise as using a bus in India is an experience.
The bus stop we were looking for & as described on various websites seemed to not exist. So there we were, walking down the dusty roads with bags & backpacks looking for this bus stop & debating whether or not to bite the bullet & pay an exorbitant taxi fare. My brother was willing to give in & use a taxi while I was set on using the bus. I guess I can be slightly more stubborn as we ended up not using a taxi.
I saw some young men in uniform & we asked them to help us find the bus stop. They were new recruits in the Indian Air Force & they too were headed towards Panjim & had no idea where the bus stop was. As we suddenly learnt, in India busses don’t need a stop to pick up passengers. Everything happened at super speed from then on.
A bus drove passed us & one of the recruits shouted to get it to stop. The bus was quite empty & the recruits jumped on. Two of them forcing us onto the bus as well. Getting suitcases through the narrow door & up the steps was slightly tricky & must have taken slightly longer than the bus driver liked. I was behind my bother & I had one foot in the bus & one outside on the ground when the bus started moving. With the acceleration, one of our bags went sliding towards the bag of the bus. We quickly found seats & planted ourselves there – later seeing a sign above the seats reading “Ladies Only”.
The bus going at a speed, jolting & shaking & driving in a manner that can only be described as ‘death defying’, many more passengers squashed on & one change later, we reached our destination. My first public bus experience in India was an experience I will never forget. I absolutely loved the chaotic thrill of it. It was an experience I had again & again & one a trip to India would be incomplete without.