I’ve only used public transportation once in St. Paul in third grade when my friends and I wanted to go somewhere (I forgot where). We got lost; ended up somewhere in Minneapolis. From then on I never rode on a city bus. I’ve never had any reason to ride a taxi. I still have yet to try the Light Rail. There’s no subway system in St. Paul so I have not experience that form of public transportation. What I’m saying is that back in St. Paul public transportation was not my thing.
I mean, what was the use when I could drive myself everywhere I wanted in my own car at my own speed? Why wait for a bus or train or taxi when I could easily travel in my own Honda Accord? I’ve been driving ever since I was 16 years old. To me public transportation was always a lag; I was too good for it.
But boy oh boy, here in Kolkata public transportation is the only form of transportation that I live with. Even if I was given the opportunity to drive here I would not even dare try. The roads here are so narrow and the traffic rules are beyond my understanding. I don’t think I have enough confidence to honk every 15 seconds. People tailgate like there’s no tomorrow (and I thought Yia, my little brother’s, tailgating was dangerous). So no, I will not and cannot drive here therefore I rely heavily on public transportation and trust that they know how to drive in their own country.
I’ve learned a lot through public transportation, though. I ride the metro every single weekday to and from college. I spend 10 minutes trying to get to the metro station, 15 minutes in the metro and 15 minutes walking to St. Xavier’s college. I ride an auto rickshaw with complete strangers to get to the metro station. From there I get sandwiched into the overcrowded, jammed pack ocean of people in the metro for 15 minutes. After that I walk on feet to college; I pass a thousand different things on the way to college. There’s so much to see, hear, smell, feel and taste. I buy one guava to snack on whenever I can. I see at least 4 homeless people. The mufflers of taxis and cars leave their mark in my nose when a vehicle drives pass me. Through all of these things my sense of awareness has greatly increased. I’m more aware of my surroundings now. You also meet all sorts of people in buses, the metro and rickshaws. It’s a scary but wonderful feeling.
Ever since I started taking public transportation my opinion of people who use public transportation has changed drastically. Now am I too good for public transportation? I think not.