Bangalore/Day 84 in Bangalore.

A few many weeks back…

The time when my cousin’s scooter, in which I commuted daily for work, had decided to take a break and not cooperate with me for the ride. The busy week with longer days of work and freelance work in between. It took a while before I took the vehicle to get it repaired. This time, I used to take buses to work. It was much peaceful because it was just a matter of finding a seat soon and sitting relaxed till you reached your stop. But at the same time, it was frustrating to a point as it takes half an hour longer to reach my stop than when I took the scooter. The evenings are much busier as the working timings are pretty similar for all and the crowd gets loose at the time.

One such evening, I stand inside a crowded bus. Unusually enough, the crowd reduces after two-three stops and I hop up to take a seat on the ladies’ side. Two stops later, there are around 4–5 men sitting on the ladies’ seats as the number of the latter was considerably low that day(It is not the low-floor air-conditioned bus. So the bus had proper signboards too, stating that sitting on the wrong seat was discouraged).

The next stop, a lady, with her face masked with her dupatta, climbs and walks inside. “She must have a lovely face behind that piece of fabric”, is what I wondered. Bangalore is full of girls behind cloth masks(still pondering if guys don't care much about their health).

I waited for a few seconds to see if there were any empty seats. Right when her eyes between the lines of her dupatta mask started to scan for seats around, I stood up to offer her the seat. I felt it was her privilege and my courtesy. She saw me standing up and gesturing toward the seat by the window. She got in, sat and took a second to keep her bag on her lap and unveiled her face for some fresh air. Meanwhile, the other guys on the ladies’ seats hadn't stirred their body from the seats despite seeing another girl who chose to stand in the front than wait for seats, including the guy who was sitting next to me by the aisle, who now sits beside her.

I stood there with my heavy backpack on my shoulders. My left hand on the top bar and my right holding the lunch bag. After a few seconds, she “shhh”-ed me and asked me if she needs to hold my bag for me. I did not want to burden her with an extra bag as her bag was also huge and bulky. But my bag was indeed heavy. I just responded with, “It is alright, thank you. But I will just keep it here.” and dropped my bag close to the legs of the seat and she slid it inside closer to her, away from the other guy’s legs trying to gesture that the bag is now safer. I am pretty insecure about my possessions these days. I’ll tell you the reason in a moment.

Now… Who was nicer? A. Me, who was just showing my courtesy and chose to give away the seat that I got after a long wait, despite the fact that the other guys around did not care to? B. Or the lady, who decided to return the generosity by holding my bag for me?

A week later…

I travel in a low-floor bus. The crowd was the worst that day. I stood near the foldable seats reserved for the handicapped. In some sense, I was handicapped at the time as I had met with a small accident two days back and my legs were still hurting, finding it hard to stand. There were just so many people around. Everyone looking down at their phones or wires plugged to their ears. Again, I had my heavy backpack on my shoulders. Both my hands gripped the top handles as the crowd was heavier today and the lunch box hung over my upper arm between the handle and my shoulder. It was so exhausting and the bus moved only by inches because of the heavy traffic. After some time, I kept my bag on the floor leaning against the wall between the two seats.

I didn't take my eyes off though, for I badly was insecure about my laptop and bag after I lost one(stolen) two years back. I start to judge the person sitting beside my bag. He seemed like he had the “potential” to snitch something out of my bag if I looked away — his cheap branded earphones, his bag which was of Abibas brand, oh, and not to forget his ragged, dirt-stained sandals(I know!!! How judgemental can I get when I get insecure!). After a couple of minutes, I saw him talking with the person sitting on the second seat, who seemed to accompany him. Oh great! Now there is one more who I need to look out for!

I had been so tired that after a point, even my empty lunch boxes started to feel heavy for my shoulders. I dropped that too and kept it beside my backpack. The person who I had been noticing, looked up at me. There was a second of glance between us. Then he looked away and started whispering something to his companion. He looked again. This happened two more times. He unplugged his earphones and kept it inside his pockets. He stands up swiftly, making me jerk a bit backwards. He moved aside and said, “Bro, please sit for some time bro…” I sensed blood inside me rushing over with ecstasy. With gratitude, of course. But suddenly, my lips only responded with, “Hey. It is okay. Please sit. Only a bit more till my stop arrives.” He insisted again. Yet, I protested nicely saying, “Thank you, but please…” It is funny because I was really tired and I had badly wanted to sit. Also, my stop did not come at least for another 20 odd minutes. Thus, I stood all the while and got down at my stop after tiring myself to death.

Again… Who was nicer?

A. He, who had the kind heart to offer a seat to an exhausted passenger? B. Or me, who for some reason did not want the former’s comfort disturbed, because I could manage otherwise?

In the first case, I was just executing my responsibility and giving her the seat, which was rightfully hers, no matter who did not react. It was indeed *nicer* of her to acknowledge and extend the courtesy by helping, holding the bag.

In the second one, again, I was humble enough to refuse to sit but one could argue that I was seemingly stupid to decline it when I was extremely tired. I was so grateful to his kind act.

It never would have been a thought to pen about if the lady had just sat quietly in the seat, or if I had just sat there in the seat the guy offered for some time. Suddenly the reciprocation of nice things by doing nicer things just surprised me as one doesn’t get to see it very often these days, especially in this daily commute situation among heavy crowds… There was something beautiful shared between the two sets of strangers. Something that should be very common in their social lives….

Love and be loved…

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