Standing at #2 in population – probably set to beat China there.
Much more than “thickly-populated” city.
Not exactly a pleasant weather.
Office commuters and school/college-goers peak hour.
And no matter what, people will still be there to jam-pack the public transport system.
At around 8.00 a.m, during the peak commute hour here in Chennai, that’s pretty enough to add to the frustrations of a bus conductor. It is hardly possible for a commuter to find a very calm, composed, friendly, swift and understanding bus conductor here, during the peak hour. One could find that occasional happy conductor, cracking a few jokes here, or sharing a lighter moment there with some well-known passenger, during the off-peak hours. But between 8.00 and 10.00 in the morning, blood boils at room (read bus) temperature.
Surprisingly – and not so surprisingly for some of my fellow passengers in the 12 B route – I found one unique bus conductor in whose honor we dedicate this post here.
The job of a conductor is not so easy – shunting between the same bus depots, along the same route, day in and day out, multiple number of times and managing a heck load of other things on the way, including unruly passengers and absence of spare change – but it is a job nevertheless and they have to do it. Like those frustrated or indifferent bank clerks and officers at the counter, these bus conductors soon lose sense of being polite, helpful and friendly. Probably given a different circumstance, they would reclaim all those qualities but the peak hour changes the variables in the equation and you end up facing an angry conductor who’d not miss a chance to scorn, scold or, at least, shout at you.
This man conducts a bus that is often jam-packed – even during non-peak hours. Fortunately enough, I have been in his bus many times now. The first time I boarded and bought a ticket from him, his calm, friendly and patient demeanor was instantly conspicuous. He is swift, undoubtedly, but never easily angered by anything. He has this uncanny knack of getting the commuters standing on the foot-board to get back up inside – to safety. There is something totally pacifying and friendly about him and that makes him well-known amongst the regulars that commute during those hours.
In these days of mechanic tempo and temperament, this man sure has been doing a great job. Kudos to him and to other bus conductors who have been like him. Their greatness may go neglected in the din of our daily lives, but I am sure their good-nature will bear a rich dividend in their lives and families.
(technically, this is not an ode – probably not even a standard-quality prose – but readers are requested to override that line of thought and bear this piece of prose instead).