Why I love public buses
If you haven’t travelled in a bus, you haven’t seen the real city.
Let me admit that no matter how much I hate Karachi’s public buses, deep down inside, I like them too. Of course, I can’t stand the stench, the over-crowdedness and the awkward stares I have to face. But I must say that I am in love with the sheer experience it has to offer.
First things first, the fare is incomparable. Try any other mode of transportation, no matter where your destination is, buses are the cheapest means to get around the city. Once you figure out the timings of buses and their particular stands, catching a bus is not a problem. With time, one can also learn how to be quick enough to grab a seat as soon as someone gets up, and to realise which seat would be perfect to sit at -- and at what time.
Travelling in the same bus for my college, university and work has helped the drivers and conductors recognise me, bestowing me the honour of becoming their “regular commuter”. If there are riots in the city, CNG strikes or any other mishap, the drivers and conductors will take it upon themselves to provide me a safe travel. If due to a certain reason, they are not travelling all the way back to my home from work, they will refuse to charge me the fare and will let me know where to get off and which new bus to take in order to reach home.
If a girl wants to survive in Karachi, she must learn how to deal with eve-teasing and that is also a lesson which travelling in buses has to offer. It teaches you how to be strong enough to reprimand a guy who’s trying to advance towards you – or even reward him with a slap in extreme cases. For boys, it teaches them how to deal with muggers by learning to keep a lean wallet and a dummy cell phone – or to keep them in their socks!
People from various backgrounds, the disorganisation, the drivers’ uncontrollable rage and the unpredictable city situation messing with your routine – all provide not just survival lessons in a city like Karachi, but also tell us how to deal with people, situations and your own frustrations. If you haven’t travelled in a Karachi bus, you haven’t seen the real Karachi yet.
Read more about Ema here. Follow her on twitter @EmaAnis