When I switched the job, I had to change my mode of travel too. Thus, all the skills I’d acquired in (a decent) train-travel went for a toss. I had to explore other options, buses to be precise.
Interesting patterns can be observed about the bus travelers. Like trains, here also you find a lot which is experienced, and almost always manages to get a seat.
Then there are those who are the reluctant types (mostly non-mumbaiites – migrants from the place I’m from (and adjacent states, aka “UPBihar”, one word):)). These people are not very ambitious – getting a seat is never on the top of their list. Getting inside the bus is their top-priority, and they’re satisfied with that itself. I think they consider luxuries like getting to sit as ‘maya’. Such people are born-adjusters, both mentally and physically. I mean you see them and you can appreciate their ability to twist their body beyond known limits, to allow people to pass through the gang-way, without losing the grip. If ever, by stroke of luck, they do get a seat, they sit on it as if it’s something that they didn’t deserve. You can observe that they’re quite insecure and ready part with it.
Natives, however (understandably), have an entirely different approach. First of all, they’re smart. As soon as they get in they have the ability to scan the entire bus within a fraction of a second. If they find an empty seat, fine. Otherwise, they know the ‘key places’ to stand. And such skills seem to improve with age.
Some ladies adopt an improvised approach by exploiting unsuspecting people from the ‘adjustable’ lot and gullible people from the native ones. I mean they somehow manage to get upto the seat of the ‘victim’ and make strange noises when the bus brakes or accelerates. Noises like “uff”…”ptchh” (most popular). Now if it’s an ‘adjustable’ victim, he almost immediately offers his seat – IF they’re not sleeping. Oh I forgot to mention – the adjustable ones sleep very quickly. The gullible lot also offers, but after some contemplation and introspect.
Yours truly also tried to ape the experienced ones by trying to board a moving bus once. I think the driver had some issues. He did not stop where he usually did. As a result I was in the air for some time, with one hand on the railing at the entrance. Nice experience. I must’ve looked like ‘pavan-putra hanuman’ in launching position.:)