Flâneur: A somewhat detached observer aboard a crowded bus in Calcutta

WordPress The Daily Post presented an interesting Discover Challenges this week.


Flâneur demands of the blogger to be a processing observer of anything you are or were nearby. And then relay it in the midst of our ever-growing fraternity. There was this one time I was stuck in a horrible traffic snarl at Jadavpur Thana crossing (people who are aware of this place knows exactly what nightmare I’m talking about), inside a bus, packed with about fifty people standing— some holding the supports above, some managing to stand, helped by the force of friction against the ceiling, the sides, the windows and also against each other. The air smelled of burning petroleum, snuffed out cigarette, a faint trace of alcohol and mostly fatigued souls. I was at the front, standing, getting the full engine heat of the bus in addition to the 35 degrees Celsius humid weather.


It was the peak office hour, horns were blazing relentlessly, the cars and auto rickshaws weren’t moving despite the green signal. Imagine the sheer number of automobiles present! There was desperation on my mind like many others on the bus, to reach home, crash on the bed and lose all contact with reality. Maybe that’s why there were many who were frustrated. A mother was scolding her son to stand still and not to “monkey” around, a middle-aged man was arguing with his colleague (maybe) on the phone shouting about some time restriction, three friends at the back were sleeping with heads rolled to the side. However there was a nice couple sitting at the front, no doubt talking romantically in each other’s ears, which was a tad misfitting considering the situation we were all in.

Ten minutes into the jam, some men began to shout at the driver and conductor, demanding what the hell was happening and telling them to swerve around the other vehicles and make it to the front. Impatience was at its peak. I was thinking of crashing to the ground and rest my hindquarters, but it would have nice if there was any ground left. Suddenly someone called my name, and I looked to the back. A friend I haven’t seen in almost 8 years waved at me, and I felt a surge of surprise! I remember he was carrying a guitar case in his hand somehow in the terrible crowd, wearing a black tee and jeans. We exchanged pleasantries and I came to know he was going home from college, like me. It felt nice to meet someone this unexpectedly in spite of keeping in touch somewhat on FB.

Thankfully the bus started to move inch by inch, and then fully out of the crossing, slumbering amidst other vehicles to the next stop at Jadavpur 8B. My friend got off the bus along with a whole lot of other people, making the bus a little bearable than before. Others settled in the empty seats, just like me, and many rested their heads to the backrest for the rest of their journey. To me it was a brief respite before I had to embark at the next stop. The conductor was sifting very fluidly now through the corridor, giving tickets to passengers. People seemed to be overall in a less foul mood. There was a cool wind blowing through the windows which wasn’t felt before, either because there actually wasn’t any or we couldn’t feel it due to the crowd. The temperature eased, the mother held her child on her lap putting him to sleep, the couple started listening to FM Radio on the smart phone, the friends were now chatting about how amazing their whole day had been at Nicco Park, and the driver started singing the oldie “Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy” in slow deep baritone.

A famous scene from Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy song of film Saptapadi, a Bengali classic

Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy translates to “What if this road never ends?”


28 thoughts on “Flâneur: A somewhat detached observer aboard a crowded bus in Calcutta

  1. what makes such simple daily account from one’s life so interesting? is it that we are searching for something new? or some new thoughts?

    I don’t know! Enjoyed reading this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very happy that you find it enjoyable 🙂 simple daily life constitutes the very essence of who we are, and observing the whole thing can be a very interesting exercise indeed 🙂 Maybe it perpetrates the calmness we like in our personal spheres. Thanks for giving it a read!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it is one of the high density places, only preceeded by Delhi. It would be great if you come to volunteer here, I am also planning on volunteering for a month during the coming vacation time with some NGO. Thanks for reading, and Calcutta will be waiting eagerly for your presence 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice….. Couldn’t read it completely, as it was too long for me….. And as always I’m a bit poor at reading….. But whatever I could read, was so simple yet interesting……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you think so 🙂 maybe you can read the rest at a different time…..the time described in the writing was a ‘simple yet interesting’ moment in my life too, though couldn’t recognize it at the time. Thanks for visiting! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There was a time i was mad about watching classic movies.Now i am not that much into watching movies.pather panchali yes i have heard a lot.
    You watch foreign movies as well?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes I do 🙂 but sometimes. I used to watch even more a few years earlier but now there’s time restraint. I frequently go to International film festival to see foreign films, and also good reputed films at home. As long as it’s a good movie, I’m all in! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I will suggest a simple but beautiful movie-‘Maheshinte prathikaram’.
    means the revenge of mahesh.
    It is tough to choose classic as i am yet to watch some of adoor balakrishnans best.
    i would suggest vanaprastham.
    make sure you get english subtitles 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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