I’m staring up at a bus already packed full with people – so full that a few passengers are riding by hanging on to the outside windows with only one foot on the stairs. The bus stopped just to pick Brendan and me up. Brendan impressively just went for it. He’s already squeezed in, well, I’d say he barely managed to fit inside. I’m standing outside hesitating and a teenage schoolboy tells me ‘just put your feet in.’
|Previous volunteers, Josh and Nikkiema in a crowded bus.
I guess he’s right, putting my feet in the bus is definitely the first step. So I place my feet up on the first stair of the bus and even though no one moves to allow me in, a man pushes on my backpack and somehow I’m in the bus too. The teenage boys return to their spot hanging out of the doorway and the bus is moving again.
Brendan and I just finished working at the Male Patan day care and it’s hot. The kind of hot where you sweat sitting still and so we decided to sit in the shade and wait for a bus instead of walking down to the cafe where we host English conversation lessons. Sometimes, waiting for the bus is a gamble because while walking under the boiling sun (even for just 15 minutes) is a mission, sometimes squishing up against so many strangers is just as much work.
I’m surprised the body odor isn’t worse and let’s be honest, I’m a little worried my own sweaty smell is offensive, but someone knocks into my backpack as they try to ninja themselves through the crowded aisle and all of a sudden I’ve dislodged a nursing baby from her mother. I get wide eyed and apologize and the mother simply moves her baby girl’s hands into prayer position and tells the child to say namaste to me. I respond with my own prayer positioned hands and say namaste back except the bus lurches forward and I’m knocked backward into another family.
As the bus stops again Brendan points to a man with goats. I have high hopes the goats will join us on the bus because wouldn’t that be fun? The goats look at the packed bus wide-eyed and take a pass while Brendan asks if I’ve been on the bus with chickens yet. I have in Guatemala but not in Nepal. He promises me that if I wait it out- it’ll happen.
As people have exited the bus, we’ve moved towards the back to allow others room inside. But now it’s our turn to escape the always-ridiculous-but-worth-it-ride. We yell ‘dai, dai’ simply ‘brother, brother’ and the bus stops so we can dodge and weave our way to the door. We pay 15 rs each, roughly 17 US cents, it’s a bargain really.