Of all the newness that daily living brings, today’s was an unexpected high. For the first time in 10 years, of which at least 5 i have spent travelling in DTC buses, i encountered a female bus conductor today. It was fate, i am sure of it…leaving home just the crucial two minutes late, getting onto a bus that broke down half a km later, then getting onto another, but jostled into a corner by Mama Sumo Hustler who took the seat i spotted first…and then, in that terribly filmy, slow-motion moment, when i turn my head, hair flying away from face to reveal super surprised eyes like those of a deer alerted, to hear the woman’s voice yell, albeit musically…”ARRE…ticket le loooo“…!
I approached her for my ticket. Saw the seat next to her was vacant, so asked her if i could sit there. To which she first said no, with an apologetic smile, so i didn’t push it. Then 5 minutes later she relents and lets me have the seat. Through the next 45 minutes i watch her go about her business as countless grizzly old men have gone in the very throne now accorded to her. Her maths sharp, her jaw set, her eyes alert, her tone gruff…She had me at ‘Ye lo’. 😛
Also for the next 45 minutes, i sat next to her, bursting with pride, as if it were my personal accomplishment, this miracle of a gender bender. And apparently, i was not alone in my surprise – the poor thing, who i am quite sure is younger than I am, was and is probably continually subject to stares, searching, puzzled, amused, lecherous stares but she just smiled at the nicer ones and avoided eye contact with the more dangerous ones. For some reason, i found my well of courage this time and stared down a couple of young upstarts (which is easy for this seat, like the ‘throne’, is elevated ). Every now and then, she’d look at me and smile, with rupee notes slipping out from one hand to the other, doing her mental calculations. A multi-tasker, i say! Next time, i promised myself, i shall speak to her, tell this story her way.
Of course, this overflow of joy in the name of feminism seems psychotic, but for now, hurrah for a new world!