Posts Tagged ‘bus


I’m running out of titles

Seriously. How do you guys keep pushing out post after post topped with such great hits such as “Abans Massage Chair: A Review” and ” “(you know who you are)?

Just got back from Retractive, a concert of retro music(allegedly) at the Warehouse Project in Maradana. The warehouse project seems pretty interesting – Copy sounds very hipster-ish but they seem to be doing some good work with the local kids. LEARN, a project to teach the local kids english and things is also run out of the warehouse, you can contact Ruwan from Beyondborders for more info or to volunteer. Or Mel from the warehouse project. I think.

But anyway,

The music was meh-ish. The artists were just… alright. I can’t complain since my musical abilities only extend as far as awkwardly tapping my feet in tune(hopefully) to the beat. It wasn’t particularly retro either, but again, I’m not complaining since it was the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls and Sting. If that’s retro, then I’m far older than I consider myself to be.

We left the premises around 9:30, meandered for a while and ended up playing foosball. An hour later I was in Pettah waiting for a bus again. Time was about 11pm, on a Saturday. Prime time for drunk dudes to do the four-legged walk home. After getting off the bus that brought me there, I passed behind a pair of old men sitting on the curb, wearing their sarongs in what I shall just call a “screw decency, and anyone who happens to walk in front of us” fashion. They were debating the pros and cons of walking home to where they live in Maharagama. I did not inquire about public transport and availability.

Past the CTB stand, and into the whatchamacallit road to see if there were any buses in there. The one leading to the Gunasinghepura stand and the gas works. I’ve never actually seen anything like a gas works in that area, though. Granted, in my mind a gas-works would be a giant steam-punk-esque structure billowing steam from various tubes and crevices.

Near the public toilets, off in the shadows I saw a bunch of young gentlemen who I can describe only as brown skin-heads. Nose rings, large tattoos, bugger-off face, sleeveless tshirts, shiny denims and more cigarettes than you can shake an excise duty officer at. A little past the brain trust, a young lady sidles up to me and asks “ayye, kohomada?” (or “how you doin’?”). I say “uh, hondai” (or, “eiiiiieeeeeiiiiii”), freeze for a bit and walk faster towards the buses, staring straight ahead.

Finally I spot a bus just pulling out of the gas-works area, a 1. Bus route no. 1 is the Colombo-Kandy bus, a matter of great pride to anyone living along the Kandy road. We have the number one bus! Probably the first bus route to exist! Take that, Highlevel road. We had buses when you were still whipping cows along the cobbled mess you called a highway. Probably.

So I get in and sit down. Eventually all the seats are taken, and the bus sets off. A dude starts singing some sinhalese song. I don’t know what. Sue me. Something about fair skin and “meeting you, my dear, where the flowers bloom”. Definite Retroactive material.  I get off the bus a few stops before my house, to grab dinner. Afterwards I look around for a three wheeler, see one parked nearby and head towards it. I ask the dude if he’s up for a fare. A voice from the back says, sleepily, “and who the hell are you?”. This is when I notice that there is someone sitting, or lying, in the back seat. The driver tells him to bugger off, shoos him away and tells me he’s sorry for the degenerates.

The starter handle hasn’t even dropped yet and the driver starts telling me about how drug addicts, like the one who was occupying his back seat earlier, are a terrible drain on society. He says they consume narcotics all day and wander around at night, demanding free transport. Apparently the few police officers he’s mentioned it to don’t do anything. “What families, children for those fellows”, says he, “all they do is steal anything they can get and buy more drugs. Am I supposed to do a 200 rupee fare for free? They are trying to dress us(or, ung apiwa andanda hadanawa)”. I go “huh” at the appropriate breaks in the speech. I hazarded a “yeah, totally” at one point but then he went “ah? ahhhh?” and I just went “uh, yeah”, and he continued with the local crime report.

Four minutes later I was unlocking the front door.

It’s just. Interesting living here.

I’ve gotten very self-conscious of what I put up here, all of a sudden. I feel like I’m being compared with all the bloggers who write well, and can’t help but feel a slight tinge of guilt, since I’m likely to feel like a slap to the face with a gym sock after reading some of the content out there, locally.


The Private Bus: A Layman’s Guide

I’ve been taking the bus for a long time now. Over the years, you tend to pick up little things about bus etiquette and how not to get wet when it rains and you’re hanging off the foot-board. I thought I’d share some of the wisdom I’ve acquired.

Hailing a bus – Sri Lankan private buses come in many varieties. There are buses which seem to stop at every bus stop there is, and everywhere in between, and then there are buses which like to pretend all passengers can magically teleport themselves inside the bus if it passes near them. You have to aim for the middle-ground buses. These can be fairly easy to flag down, but if you’re by yourself,be prepared for a brisk sprint.

Entering a bus – Now, what is important is how fast that you are moving. If you and the bus are standing still, you sho- oh come on, we both know that’s never going to happen. So, assuming you’re jogging along the bus, try to equalize your velocities. Your chances of looking ridiculous are directly proportional to your relative velocity. And, well, your ability to leap gracefully. You need to judge the point when the bus is moving slowest. This will take a few tries. When you sense it, jump on. Choice of door depends on personal preference. Some prefer the front, some prefer… Nevermind.

Moving on,

Navigating the insides of a bus – Since you’re on a bus, I’m going to go and assume you’re given to flights of lunacy. We can’t have those on the bus. Only the conductor is allowed to do so. You get in, sit down, and shut up. If you don’t carry exact change, have a strange haircut or look at the conductor funny, be prepared to feel an effect equivalent to six mother-in-laws complaining about how you could never live up to their husbands and how you’re too impotent to know how to count change. Logic, logic cannot survive in such harsh climates.

Exiting a bus – This is an extremely important aspect of any bus journey. Many are the technical aspects of the perfect exit, one that takes a lifetime to refine, which, if you’re like most people and do not posses masochistic tendencies, you’ll want to avoid. But, you do wish to live long enough to outgrow the bus, so read carefully. If you are a) pregnant, b) have a heart condition or similar, c) are shorter than Himal, or d) sane, avoid exiting the bus while it is moving. Real life is not Speed. If you must, then head towards the exit closest to you. Avoid the front exit if you wish to disembark while the craft is turning, as you will have a quick meeting with the front wheel, and then drop in for a surprise visit to the deity or gatekeeper to paradise of your choice. If you lean that way. Otherwise you have the far less glamorous option of The End. Once you’ve positioned yourself on the bottom of the footboard, again, try to sense when the bus is at its slowest. Leap. Like a paratrooper, you must be prepared to land running, on your feet, soldier! Tripping up will cost you, at the least, your dignity.

If you’ve managed to complete all the above without bodily harm, congratulations. Give yourself a pat on the back. Then punch yourself in the face. Preparation for the next 154 you have to take.


Additionally, the disparity between men and women on a bus is just odd. How often do you see women getting onto a moving bus, or exiting one? What gives, womenfolk? Ask your menfolk how to use the commenting system if you need assistance. Recipes are not welcome.


How To Turn Into A Psychopath

Recent events have left me scarred, battered, worn and unable to make regular blogposts about it. Suffice to say my young mind was incapable of grasping such mysteries as reaching for the soap in the bathroom only to find that it has been partially eaten by something with small teeth.

I suspect papareboy.

Then I had to endure the pain of having to do my own laundry, and getting my own food. I have to pay for my three square meals! I can’t believe people actually live like this!

But you must be wondering what I’m babbling on about. The parents have left for India again, and everything but the laws of physics have been upturned in this house. My list of laments is long, but most importantly, Food: I can’t make anything much other than chocolate sauce and boiled water. I occasionally make kottu by cutting up strips of godhamba roti but it’s never the same. You can’t tape four extra limbs on a cat and make an octopus. Neither can you make it predict the outcomes of horse-races. That was an expensive day at the betting centre. I wonder what an octopus tastes like.

But yes, getting to the title of the post. I was on my way home one evening, on the bus, with a pretty girl sitting next to me, when I get a phone call from a friend.

Me: Hey!

Friend: Hey man, what was that movie you were talking about?

Me: Oh, Killers

Friend: Ah, will look for it. How’s the food situ going?

Me: We’re getting by okay I guess. Usually cook.

F: This movie isn’t about babies or anything is it?

Me: Babies?

F: Yeah, like baby’s day out or some shit. I don’t know what kind of movies you watch.

Me: Must you hate me for being a deviant?

F: Yes. It’s about the cats.

Me: What about cats?

F: You don’t like cats.

Me: It’s not that I don’t like them, they just don’t taste that good. Heh.

F: See what I mean? Freak.

Me: Yeah, the police are still trying to track me down after the neighbor’s pets disappeared.

F: Please, you couldn’t hunt a mouse.

Me: Bah, what do you know, you’re not the one who’ll be turning into a cannibal from starvation soon. Desperation can lead to many things, boy.

And that’s about the time I noticed the girl next to me staring at me with her mouth agape. I really should pay more attention to what I’m saying on the phone.


Cautionary Tales

Each country has something the residents are too scared to mention on the travel brochures. Some things that lie so far beyond the line of “adventurous enough to lure people in” that if a butterfly were to flap it’s wings on the line, nothing would happen where these things are. Australia has a number of ravenous beasts intent on your violent death. India now has a handful of homesick female bloggers. Sri Lanka has public transport.

If you’ve never been in some form of public transport in your life, I crown thee a faux-lankan. You are about as Sri Lankan as Coffee Bean, which I assume you flock to each evening.

I, on the other hand, have to go through hours of torture each day. Have you seen the inside of a 154? Nobody has. Because the thing is so packed full of people, it’s mass is so great that it turns into a black hole from whence not even light escapes. The crews on these buses are supposed to have inspired the original Star Trek series. They also have burning hot coals for eyes and superhuman strength and endurance.

On top of all this, we in good old Sri Lanka have to put up with all kinds of other hassles on the bus. As if life-sucking black chambers of death that smell of chili aren’t bad enough. People have to go make things even more unbearable. It’s like some great big fish-bowl full of piranhas and a cat gets thrown into it. Try landing the right way up in that, cat. I know, that analogy doesn’t make any sense.

I just don’t like cats.


First up, little kids on buses. It’s baffling why people call these things little bundles of “joy”. I mean, they screw up your day before they’re even born by making you give up your seat to pregnant women. How can such beings be let loose in a bus? When they’re a few years older, they clog up the aisles, impeding movement. They’re all over the place, thieving, impeding, being stupid and generally being adorable. Bastards. World, Sri Lanka has the fountain of youth. Please take it away from us. In return, we only ask that you give us a fountain of smart.

Next we have the conductors, hanging off their footboards shouting “homahomahomahoma”. Why they are perpetually calling out to this fellow I have no idea. They yell at you, push you around, refuse you money and generally act like 13 year olds at a frat party. You can’t blame them though, I’d be enraged if I had to wear that same muddy coloured shirt to work everyday as well.

And then we have the strange phenomenon of women rampaging at seats. The moment a seat frees up, you are assured of at least one woman with a handbag shoving past everyone, even someone standing right next to the free seat, and plopping her handbag on the free space. Then she will calmly get around to replacing the bag with herself. It is a danger that all males and females who don’t regard empty seats the way Edmund Hillary thought of Everest should beware of. When someone gets up off a seat, listen. If you hear the sounds of a rampaging elephant thundering through the plains, crushing skulls and stepping on feet, get the hell out of there.

Finally, we have the most annoying type of person by far. One day I was inspired to see if I could contact God himself by means of recreating what Jim Carey did in Bruce Almighty. It worked. All I asked was that these blackguards be given multiple knees. So that they can be shot in them. Repeatedly.

See, I was innocently reading a book in the bus. All was as it should be, children playing in the streets, women in the kitchen, that sort of thing. Then I notice the dude sitting next to me creepily staring at my book. I go on for a few pages and he’s still reading the thing. I look at him and throw a little half smile his way and he looks away. For a few minutes. Then it’s back to “let’s-see-what-annoys-Jerry-the-most”. So I put away the book and take out my phone. I start replying to a few messages and this dude is now staring at my phone screen. I throw him a “I’m-concerned-about-your-concern-about-my-phone” look. Otherwise known as the “bugger-off” look.

Like clockwork, he looks away and gets back to my screen in a few minutes. I finally had to ask the fellow to allow me some privacy. If you ever have kids, please, please teach them the merits of not getting punched in the face for reading over people’s shoulders.


Return to Normal Broadcasting Schedule

As the more astute of my readers, or pretty much anyone aware of the concept of time passing might have noticed, my “keep the blog active” plan was out of action for the past week. Fortunately this wasn’t due to people sending me threatening emails to cease and desist, but because the last week was as hectic as my stomach after going through a kottu from the shop across the street. Trust me, that place is not for the faint-of-intestine.

So anyway, last week was an eventful week. I shaved my beard, if you hadn’t heard. It was getting to be a pain. The first thing to happen after I shaved it off was me getting ripped off by a bus conductor. Clearer proof of its badassery I cannot imagine. But the price was too great. I assume that at one point the thing would have grown so much that it muffles my speech and made me sound like that slimy dude in Beowulf who looks like a plus sized Gollum and sounds like he’s gurgling cats.

Even worse, I might sound like Sean Connery. Have you heard him talk?


Busorama Part Deux

You might have heard about my love-hate relationships with buses before on these pages. The aluminium clad cans which are our own means of (occasionally) rapid transport.

First, a warning. This post is rated PG-You’reNeverOldEnoughForThisShit.

This scene repeats itself in countless buses on countless routes. Someone gets on a bus, finds a seat, and sits down. So far so good. But if the seat happens to be an aisle seat, that is, not the window seat, you are most probably in for a ride full of so much writhing and cringing it could be mistaken for a screening of Twilight at Cannes.

When I was little, my dad told me that I would face many injustices in life. Like the fact that women got us kicked out of Eden, yet get free pass into the best clubs. I mean, come on God! Really?

He also said “Son, by far the worst thing you will experience will be The Aisle Seat… the aisle seat… aisle seat… seat ….seat… seat… sea…” and walked slowly backwards before turning and running up the stairs.

But nothing he could have said has prepared me for this… this travesty that is the aisle seat of a crowded bus!

You must be wondering by now what I’m going on about. You must be wondering why you read this blog at all. You must be wondering if I’ve completely lost my legos. Is that the right toy? Non sequiturs aside, this post is about those times when some rabid beast of a man positions himself right next to your seat and… Does what can best be described as a war dance on your shoulder. I shudder at merely typing it! You know, when you’re sitting in a crowded bus, and sooner or later some male positions himself right next to you?

There are normal people, and then there are people who do this. They will slowly nudge themselves forward till they make contact with your shoulder. Then when you move away, squashing the person in the seat next to you, they’ll come closer. It is a complete mystery why this happens. I mean, if I were standing, I sure as hell wouldn’t be doing the Privates Salsa on some strangers’ shoulder.

The best way to get rid of these vermin, I’ve discovered, is a multi-stage process. First you stare them in the eye. Stare, not look. You convey a message of “Get your crotch away from my shoulder you vile creature, or face the wrath of my balled up fists of fury on your weakest point!”. If he doesn’t respond to this, gently nudge them with your elbow. No, not there. Creep.

If they still fail to react, then you are left with the firm push from your elbow. That’s usually enough even for the likes of Steven Hawking so stand straight.

There have been scattered reports of women doing this kind of thing for quite different reasons *cough*theWhackster*cough*, but that is best not discussed, lest I suddenly see the sky above my current position blackened by the hail of heeled shoes arching their way towards me.

@Halikazeez being assaulted by a female