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On the Bus

On the Bus

By Tulie Muttulingam

Traveling in buses is a tiresome experience most of us endure every day. Crowded conditions, molesters, bus conductors who never bother to return your Rs.1 or 2 but throw you out if you are 50 cents short of the required bus fare…

I don’t know about you but all that and more are just a few of the things that brings me to office minus the bright morning cheeriness and chirrupiness that psychologists tell us we have to start our day with.

This morning however, I had to endure another particular torture that I don’t undergo on the public transport every single day but one nevertheless that I am quite often subjected to. I had my heart lurch into my mouth every few minutes with every lurch of the bus.

I have a highly intricate conspiracy theory worked out in my own mind (I’ll tell you the intricacies some other time) that bus drivers are part of some deep dark movement to jiggle our internal organs every opportunity they get by lurching the bus through every stop and start.That in itself is bad enough if you are a healthy young adult with good motor co-ordination skills like me, (well ok, so I lied about the motor co-ordination) but what about elderly people and children? To see people fall on their backsides or fall over the driver or fall over each other is not a rare occurrence in buses.

But what made me especially anxious today was that a young mother was sitting with her baby on the very first seat.If you are a regular bus commuter, you would have seen this scene countless times; a mother gets on with a very young child and immediately the front row passenger on the aisle side gets up.

I have never understood this particular logic. Why the aisle side passenger? Why not the one by the window seat, who will thus ensure that the mother has something to hang on to, other than her baby?

But by some unfailing logic that I have noticed time and again, mothers with young children are always given the only seat in the bus that has no hold or railing anywhere nearby to use as leverage.And so today with every lurch and heave of the bus, my heart sympathetically kept time.

The woman with the baby fortunately had a very good sense of balance, no mishap occurred, but had that been somebody with my deportment and grace, the results would not have been so fortunate.

Though a true blue Sri Lankan myself, I am unable to understand this unique Sri Lankan logic. Why on earth are mothers with babies/ toddlers given the front row seat by the aisle? That is the one place in the entire bus that should NOT be given to them. We as a people should be a little more intelligent and informed in our thinking and actions. Offering the seat in the first place is a good enough action but next time, make sure the seat will be of the kind that will not bring unnecessary harm to the mother and child. Traveling in buses is hazardous enough without tempting fate thus.


  1. The reason is so that the mother gets to sit as soon as she enters the bus!

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