An AMTS bus playing Bollywood hits from 1990s. A philosophy-spouting bus-driver, and a Shakespeare-and-Girish Karnad-quoting bus-conductor, named Mr. Natwarlal.
7:50 pm. November 23, 2015. Ahmedabad.
For nearly the entire duration of the 20 minute journey home, I felt I might be hallucinating. I’d begun to see Mario Miranda caricatures all around me, colours brighter than they were, features more exaggerated than they were. It might all have been easier to explain if I was actually hallucinating. Only, I wasn’t.
It was a chance ride in a city transport bus after a late wrap of work. Autorickshaws were scarce, and I was keen on feeling more like a responsible citizen using public transport instead of adding to the chaos that is Ahmedabad’s traffic. So what if it was just for 20 minutes! The interaction I had with the conductor, Mr. Natwarlal, left me amazed, and wishing to meet more people around me. Or at the very least, to share a snippet of the very interesting people who appear in my life.
Mr. Natwarlal holds a Master’s degree in English Literature, and Othello is his favourite literary ceration. And he fondly remembers Mr. Hasan, who headed the English Department at L D Arts College, in Ahmedabad, as the greatest professor to teach English Literature. (With due apologies to Mr. Hasan, I believe Dr. SherryChand to be a mile ahead.) But, I digress.
Mr. Natwarlal is a bus-conductor due to fate or choice, I don’t know which. But he shares a good rapport with all the regular commuters on his bus. Sometimes, he meets a nagging kind of a commuter who tries to negotiate on the fare. Sometimes, he meets an adventurous firang who is trying to find her way in a strange city. Sometimes, the bus is too crowded, even during non-rush hours. Mostly it is not, and these days, it is rather pleasant in the evenings. He does wish he had the time to read more.
If you wish to meet him, catch a bus ride in an AMTS Route # 400, at about 7:50 from Gurukul. If you meet a smartly dressed, bespectacled gentleman, with a good humoured, kindly look, you’ll know it’s him.