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The bus ride

Never did I think I could get a workout from riding on a bus. But after spending four hours yesterday and another five hours today on (and off, considering all the times I was literally thrown into the air) the peeling blue vinyl seat of a public Indian four wheeler, my muscles feel just like they did after the first time I tried yoga. Except now I have neck aches instead of a spiritual breathing high.

I am exaggerating a little. Although I did get flung into the air a few times, there were definitely stretches of relative smooth sailing. And I have to say, the public transportation infrastructure here is something to be envied. I know that I can go to any major city and there will be a bus or train going to wherever I need to get to next. At the most it’ll be a stop away. When I’m on the bus, I see hardly any cars on the road; mostly it’s circus-colored freighter trucks and other buses. I did have a little trouble on the way to Hampi. My overnight 2AC (it has beds with curtains) train reservation didn’t make it off of the waiting list and I had to spend the night—all twelve hours of it—on a wooden bench with my meager general ticket (but that’s another story).

Imagine a train network that ran all across the U.S… If you wanted to go to California, book a sleeper and you’d get there in a few days. New York to Florida? Not a problem. But I can’t even get a train home from New York City to Scranton. The tracks are there, but I’m guessing it probably just wouldn’t be profitable. After all, when everyone has cars that they can chill out in while they’re going their average four miles an hour (I know I’m repeating this, but I just can’t get over it), who needs trains? I’m just saying, maybe cars are great, maybe they’re the worst thing ever invented. But either way, grade A good public transportation is something that we Americans missing out on.

To be honest, I like the long bus rides. India’s landscape changes so quickly that I’m content to stare out the window and watch the vast planes of cotton fields and rosella plantations turn into forested hills that look strangely Pennsylvanian. And yesterday a flock of middle schoolers just happened to get my bus and flock to the back, where I was quickly treated like a glossy magazine pop star. They all wanted to shake my hand- something that happens a lot, and something that’s started to make me feel really uneasy. So instead I taught them the ‘secret hand shake’ shake, grab the thumb side of the hand, and finish it off with a pound. They liked that. As for me.. well, it’s certainly humbling to be the one white face in a bus full of brown ones. And precious time to just sit and think and reflect becomes suddenly plentiful when you don’t have to focus on the road.

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