Traveling by the State Transport Buses in India

Remember Mr. & Mrs Iyer? If you have seen the movie (and it is a decent movie IMHO) the bus journey and the characters feel so authentic. Well, that kind of guitar playing and song singing happens when you travel by, what we call in India, 2X2 luxury buses. I will give you an account of what happens when you travel by a state transport bus to a hill station in the Himalayas.

This is an account of our return journey Chamba to Pathankot (we actually went all the way to Bharmour).

To begin with, on our return journey too we had a few goats in the bus as our companions. While we were going to Bharmour, there was enough space in the bus to turn around and click a photograph of the goats on the return journey the bus was pretty crowded.

The view most of the time was fabulous but H and I, both have motion sickness and take medicine for it. Avomine leaves us completely zonked, H more than me. It hardly leaves us in any mood to appreciate the scenery (once again, H is more oblivious) but at least we do not vomit all through the journey. The same cannot be said about our fellow passengers.

On this bus, people occupying the two rows in front of us were vomiting away throughout the journey. It was December and it was cold. We all liked to keep the windows shut. When the window two rows ahead would go up, it would mean that the lady was getting ill. She had a young child, a husband and a mother-in-law traveling with her and I sort of felt sorry for her. To make the matters worse, the lady sitting ahead of us decided she was feeling better when the window was rolled up. I did not like the nasty wind that came in but what could I do if an old nauseas lady wanted to open the window? Those who are familiar with the Indian state transport buses will know that many a time’s people sitting in the front row share more than half of the window with you. Well, such was our fate that day. The lady in front kept the window open and the cold wind would make my nose red.

But much more was in store for me that day than just a red nose. Suddenly the lady two rows ahead too open her window (that meant she was getting ill and on a moving bus whatever goes out of the window comes back) and by the time we could get the window next to me (the same one we shared with the lady who wanted to keep it open) closed in came a shower of vomit and sprayed me. I clenched my teeth (by this time I felt I would join the gang and start throwing up myself but Avomine is not prone to sentiments and it held firm) and cleaned myself as well as I could with the water we had on a moving bus. To say that I was in a foul mood is an understatement. Inwardly, I was cursing my husband (he is a software engineer and we can afford to travel in much more luxury) but he has to drag me to god forsaken places (but that is how I get such good photo opportunities) with such inconvenient journeys (remember we had goats too in the aisle sitting quite close).

Anyway, we reached Pathankot after 5 uncomfortable and long hours. I took out the long coat I was wearing (that still had the traces of the cleaned up vomit) and cleaned myself more thoroughly.

Then at 9.30 in the night we boarded a train to Delhi. We were traveling sleeper class (when H is around such things happen) and to my surprise our co-passengers were the same lady with the kid and the husband and the mother-in-law. I said I was so sorry (in Hindi) that she got so ill on the bus and actually one can buy a medicine and that stops the vomiting due to the motion sickness. And pat she replied, yes she is aware of it but could not buy it because they were in a hurry to board the bus. The next minute I opened my sleeping bag, hopped to the top berth and started reading a novel and did not speak a word to anyone till we reached Delhi in the morning.