Monday, June 16, 2008

Memories of PTC bus journeys!

MTC bus today!

As I was turning into Haddows road today a MTC bus whizzed by nearly missing a few people on the road as is the norm. Just when I was about to curse the bus and its driver and everybody connected to it, my mind drifted back to the days gone by when I used to travel by these buses.

The more my mind drifted, more instances that have been deeply etched in the confines of my memory came out like a mental slideshow. It is amazing how at the most unexpected moments lost thoughts surface and make even poor memory people like me feel good about us. Coming back to the post I thought I will put together a few memorable ones for the record.

It was in the days of khaki shorts and white shirts, the old uniform of Dominic Savio Preparatory school (I’m told it has graduated to a matriculation now!) and its bigger sibling St. Bede’s Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School (100 years now, dear school of our hearts). School was a two stop bus ride from home if you got onto a white board bus usually a 12B or 27D costing 50p or 75p and a single stop if you got into one of the many LSS buses (they have undergone so many prefix and suffix changes that I will leave the numbers alone). The two buses originated from Foreshore Estate and so were not crowded and a boon to school kids studying in Montford, Raphaels, Santhome, St. Bede’s, Rosary Matric and Dominic Savio. The government’s largesse meant that we had bus passes that were originally given at subsidized rates and much later totally free.

The good old Pallavan Transport Corporation buses in distinctive green and white colours were eulogized in a Tamil song where a bunch of youngsters eve tease and heckle a girl in song. The lines go thus”...kai viduvaan kanniyarai Pallavan thaan, kai koduppom naanga ellam nallavar than…” Translation “Pallavan lets down young women (actual translation virgins), we lend a helping hand we are nice guys”. Notorious for stopping beyond the stops and giving scant heed for road rules they were the best forms of transport unless you chose to ride those boxy cycle rickshaws which beyond a point was thought to be for kindergarten students only. Even in half pants we had an image to maintain!

Ok back to the main post:-
Incident 1: I used a bus pass without a photo, but a classmate for some reason I can’t remember did not have one. I suspect he used the 50 p to buy an ice cream and used to hitch a free ride. In those days the conductors were so busy issuing tickets that they used to ask us to tick our passes for the corresponding day of travel. Often many of us did not, just because I was in shorts didn’t mean that I was not lazy, don’t know about others. Anyway at the end of the month the pass may have very few ticks and this was used by my friend to hitch a free ride. All went well till one day one conductor used a punching machine to put a hole in the pass, when my my friend tried to palm off my pass for his trip he got caught or rather we got caught. A sound tongue lashing followed for both of us before we got dropped of at the terminus leaving us with burning ears and a long walk home. That day I knew how much I can do for a friend and when to say NO.

Incident 2: By now I had graduated to full pants and was in the last year of school. We had since moved to Annanagar but since I studied in the “school of our hearts” I did not want to shift. So accordingly I used to take two buses to school along with a small group of friends. It was during this bus ride that love bloomed. No, it was not me but my classmate who was so fascinated by a girl from St. Columban’s school who sat in the same seat in the 7F bus every day. So he wanted to ride only in that bus and I was game. It was a lot of fun. Four guys and three girls settled into a routine of going in the same bus and not doing anything much. Things heated up when on Valentine’s Day when our hero got a big card and thrust it into the unsuspecting girl’s hand when we waited for the bus to start from High Court terminus. She read the card and promptly burst into tears and we beat a hasty retreat. Next day she was not there but her friends had leaned on her boy friends from St. Mary’s AIHS School to arrange a welcome party for our hero. On that fateful day illness kept or hero at home so his friend (not me again) got thrashed in the bus stand, nearly causing a fight between two schools of the same group. Heard recently heard that both hero and heroine are happily married to their spouses and settled with kids.

Incident 3: By now I was in college and much before Sidharth and Trisha romanced in the PTC buses in Aayudha Ezhuthu (the tram in Yuva), an old crush and me used to burn up the miles in the bus, happily talking away time. In those days coffee shops and hangouts were priced beyond both of us and somehow they failed to offer the comfort and privacy (unbelievable but true) of the good old PTC bus. Last heard she is married and settled in the US of A.

Love them or hate them you just can’t do without them, they are the (PTC) MTC buses. The lifeline of Chennai; they carry the hopes, dreams, thoughts, aspirations, joys, sorrows, romances, tragedies and so much more of the average Chennai citizen.


The Pseudonym said...

Hey you from which batch of St. Bede's. Me from DB, Pallavan used to be my default mode of transport during school and college. And I still use it when I can't lay my hands on my car. Way Better than the auto. Super Plash back.

JollyRoger said...

@ Pseudonym: Class of 96. How abt u?

The Pseudonym said...

Me too from class of '96. I think Father Anthony must gave been your princi when you finished.

Sri said...

I am from St.Joseph's Anglo Indian Boys Hr.Sec School in vepery, I use to travel in PTC from my school..good that you rewinded the thoughts of bus pass and the horrow of punshing machine by some conductors!!!

Anonymous said...

ah brilliant post. i swear by the mtc and recommend it to all my friends in college, somehow i always seem to get the finger in return.
The mtc is undoubtedly the safest mode of transport in the city, everything else goes under its wheels :P

Trinity said...

The old PTC is my favourite as i've travelled by it for the best part of my life...from my ukg to school final from annanagar to doveton and till my masters and even now while i the uni!

I also remember that my crush and i used to wait for each other and travel in the same bus to school but for some reason didnt do much...

!! Oxymoron !! said...

They look like that now?!?!?!?! Oh man! Two years I'm gone and things take a turn for the better! Super post! Keep it coming!

JollyRoger said...

Yes Oxy, fully Aircon buses that were a big hit in Bangalore earlier are getting to be quite popular here too. Don't know how much they charge but they arn't very exciting like the good old buses of old that I mentioned in the post!