Mangaluru Jaago Re
I don’t know if you do love to travel by bus, but I am certainly a patron to the city’s public transport. When I was young all I knew was, that the four seats behind the driver are reserved for the ladies and the last seat at the back that gives you a bumpy ride is hypothetically reserved for the gents. I also was greeted by signs that read ‘Vigit Again’ instead of ‘Visit Again’ in a bus that surely needed the services of a proofreader.
A lot has changed now. You will rarely find that error in the vocabulary of the painter and you will find a lady seated on the last seat quite frequently than a blue moon (though I haven’t seen a blue moon yet). In addition to this rare sighting, you will find two seats at the front reserved for the ‘Handicapped’ and ‘Senior Citizens’. What hasn’t changed is that a guy wouldn’t dare sit in a seat reserved for the ladies.
Neither has the mindset of Mangaloreans changed a bit. Quite recently, when I was fulfilling my patronage towards the private city buses, I saw a man boarding the crowded bus. His one arm was missing, let’s call him ‘one armed bandit’ (after a cheat code from GTA) and yet he stood with pride and didn’t ask for anyone’s assistance. He very well qualified for the ‘Handicapped’ category with flying colours and yet there was no seat offered. Even the bus conductor didn’t react. Maybe it was because of the coastal region mentality that encouraged him not to interfere in the matters in which his assistance was not sought.
Oh but we Mangaloreans are very cunning too. We have that little devil hidden within ourselves who prompts us to taunt someone loudly when some of their actions affect us. I have faced that kind of ridicule a handful of times from unsuspecting aunties. Oh, we do follow certain rules like, we don’t smoke in the bus (no sir, we really don’t). But we fail to honour the ‘Handicapped’ and ‘Senior Citizen’ seat signs.
On that day, the ‘one armed bandit’ got a seat before I could muster enough courage to act and I lost my opportunity to five minutes of proud feeling. I hope you will not lose that opportunity and offer your seat to the ladies, handicapped, sick and senior citizens. However, that being said, we need not tire ourselves and you can decline politely when you are not in a position to offer a seat. Also, when you want a seat it would be nice if you can ask the person to vacate the seat politely as it is your right to claim the seat if it is reserved for you. I once read an article about the people of Kolkata who are polite and fail to interfere in other people’s business. The article described how a lady hanged herself from a roadside tree and died in broad daylight. People were so busy that they didn’t take any pains to stop her. The situation there might have changed now, but it makes me think if Mangaluru is headed in a similar direction.
Though it is a popular phrase, rules are actually not meant to be broken. But while following rules, we must not bend ourselves and literally offer treats to cockroaches. Cockroaches are however entitled to free travel on our buses as they belong to some special category and enjoy that one privilege. Wait, now I am not so sure, they may face the ‘squash’ anytime. But I think I’ll talk about their rights another time. Till then let’s work towards securing our own rights.