Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Way Back Home

Without a car, and with my phone's screen gone blank, I never really gave it a thought about how I was going to get home that evening. I have been in a similar situation before, lacking the privilege of a personal vehicle, but that time my colleague would give me a ride back. That day, he himself had been without a car for 3 months. An easy way would be hailing a cab using the MyTeksi app, but I couldn't see a thing on my phone. My colleague would have a cabby friend pick him up at the office. I could have hitched his ride but I didn't really want to trouble anyone. He did not offer me his ride anyway. I could have called some friends for help through Siri, but I didn't. I would think a hundred times before asking for help, do not want to make it seem like returning a favour.

After a briefing of the workings of the local public transport from a friend, I decided to take the bus. My journey began after Maghrib.It started off with a 200 metres walk up an elevated pavement just across the parking space in front of the building, which lead to a bus stop. It was raining mildly but I was determined to go back. I just walked slowly shielded only by the canopy of some tall trees along the way to the bus stop.

There were two people at the bus stop, both sitting on the same dual-pipe seat. The other seat was wet from the rain through a one-foot hole on the roof. I sat on the dry seat looking at the oncoming traffic occasionally while reading a copy of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. I have just picked up this habit recently, that waiting means a time to read a book. The U80 bus came around 20 minutes later and all three of us boarded. I paid the bus driver RM2 with an understanding that I will not get the 10 sen change.

The front part of the bus consisted of a wide standing area, no seats. There were some empty seats at the back, and right in front the second door in the middle were three distinctive orange-coloured seats. An old lady was sitting in one, while others who boarded with me kept on standing. I guessed those were some special seats, so I went along standing, leaning on a vertical cushion just by the window. The bus was fast, and stops were jerky and abrupt. Again I pulled out my book and read.

I got down at the Asiajaya bus stop, it was still raining. As I walked to the LRT station, my iPod was aptly playing Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller. Suddenly I felt like I was in a movie, with a soundtrack playing in the background. It had the feel of a metropolitan life. You know, to walk and commute on public transportation like they do in the metropolis.

There was nothing shielding me from the rain on my walk to the station except for a narrow space under the tracks. Met two dogs taking shelter under the tracks along the way. Greeted them and asked friendly questions. Both of them were a little shy, turning away from me as I was asking the questions. Probably a little annoyed at not being able to answer.

Famished, upon reaching the station I straight away bought a deli bread and a can of coffee. I stood leaning on a beam in front of the ticket vending machine, eating my bread while watching people going left and right. Upon finishing the last drop of my coffee, I bought a ticket and went upstairs to the platform. At this hour there were not many people at the station. I read again while waiting for the train.

At this moment, I was beginning to love the idea of commuting on public transport. The comfort of freedom from control, the ability to read a book and the vast colours of sights. The city's public transport was not that really bad after all.

The Asiajaya station was only one stop away from my destination, Taman Paramount. There was no time for me to read my book on the train. Just people-watching. The waiting started again at the Paramount station. It was 8.30 PM and the frequency of the feeder bus had deteriorated substantially. I sat on one section of the long, scarcely occupied waiting booth just outside the station. While I was reading, two girls came and sit on the dual-pipe next to mine, chatting themselves away. They seemed to be coming back from work from the same place, and it amazed me how they would later continue chatting on the bus like they had years of stories to catch up.

The bus came minutes later only for us to wait another twenty minutes before the bus made another round. My stop was about on the four-fifths of the whole round, so it took around 15 minutes to reach from the departure time. There were about 5 of us in the bus. Except for the chatting girls, everyone else was looking at their phones. Always seemed to be something urgent on those little screens.

I did think about what if my phone's screen was functioning, would I be joining the phone staring competition? Reading No Country for Old Men was more fun though, I reckoned.

From my drop off, I had to walk another 400 metres to my house, and the mild rain did not seem to subside. Without any kind of sheltering along the way, I walked slowly in the rain. Then I heard a thunder, only to realise that it was the intro of the song Tunggu Sekejap by Saloma, seeping seamlessly through my headphones, blending with actual rain. It was kind of surreal, like having an actual soundtrack to the scene*. And the perfect ending.

As I reached the gate of my house, an hour and a half had just passed since I walked out of the office. Half-soaked and tired, I then took a shower and made dinner.

*find this song on youtube by searching 'Saloma Tunggu Sekejap'. It's the first video. The uploader has disabled the embedding of the video.


jen kamaruzman said...

I wish i could go through that day with kalau buat short movie layan ni hehe

adib said...

thanks bro tapi memang layan juga naik bas ni. rilek. boleh jumpa anjing. buku No Country tu pun layan gila sebijik macam movie

Anonymous said...

kalau kau ade skali jen dah tak jadi cerita dah, jadi huru hara ade la. kirim salam 2 orang makwe tu dix

adib said...

Makwe tu sekali je aku jumpa. Aku lebih rindukan anjing dua ekor tu sebenarnya