When I first got to India, I thought there would be no way I’d get on a bus. I was nervous about it. I didn’t know anything about how the bus system worked, or how to use it. It seemed really confusing to me. In the United States you buy a ticket, you’re assigned a seat (sometimes), and you’re on your way. Most of the times I’ve taken a bus in America has only been to New York City, but I grew up taking buses all over the place when I lived in Germany as kid. So, when a friend invited me to visit her in Pondicherry, I was actually a bit nervous trying to figure out how to get there.
So, what’s a girl to do? I asked for help. My co-workers said that riding a bus is a natural thing to do, people do it all the time, and it’s safe. And now, I would definitely agree with that. But, the way you do it in India is a lot different.
For one, you just kind of show up to the bus depot. And if you’re going to Pondicherry, the buses leave every 10 mins, basically. However, there are different kinds of buses. Even though I ended up taking the buses a lot, I could never guess which ones came at what time. There are buses that go around the city, through the city, make lots of stops, there are buses that make few stops, there are air conditioned buses, their are non air conditioned buses. It’s a lot to wrap your head around when the system is unfamiliar.
So- to choose pick a bus takes a little skill, but a lot of luck. There are people that do tell you if it’s ac or not, but that becomes obvious when you notice open windows versus closed ones. The conductors yell “Pondy” and they want to fill each bus. But, you must choose wisely.
So now what? I’m on a bus, I found a seat (towards the front, preferably). I still haven’t paid, I don’t know how much it costs. But, it appears as if I’m in the right place. The bus isn’t full.
We’re starting to move, still the conductor yells out “Pondy– Pondy — Pondy!”, the doors are open, and people are still jumping on!– And I still haven’t paid.
The bus is moving out of the terminal and picking up speed. I’m finally on my way. Lucky for me, it seems as I’ve picked an express air con bus!! So lucky!! We move outside the city, stopping a few times, and I feel like I’ve won the lottery. There is really nothing to do except sit back relax and try to enjoy the ride. The air is kinda cool, and I have a direct view to watch the passing towns, traffic, and scenery. Here is a little bit of what I saw: