I was on my way to Hampi, Karnataka last thursday for a vacation with my friends. After reaching Hospete, We took a state transport bus for Hampi. The bus was filled with other locals and tourists. Luckily I got the window seat just behind the driver. As soon as the bus started A girl came from behind shouting Ticket Ticket Ticket! I turned my head to look back with a little surprise. Here was a girl of 20 something holding the ticket vending machine in her hands in a brown uniform with confidence on her face.
I was seeing a lady bus conductor for the first time. “i want to click picture with her”, I murmured to my friend. We bought our tickets and then she went back. I was on the lookout for her,as she kept moving through the bus coming to the front door occasionally to give some or other instructions in kannada. I was way too impressed.
This was the first time a lady bus conductor was in front of me. Finally when she came towards me, I asked “Excuse me, May I take a picture with you?” With sheer attitude she asked, “WHY?” So I explained to her the reason and I put my right hand forward to shake hands with her.
“Hi, I am Arshi”, I said with a smile. She said, “My name is Uma.”
And then began our conversation:
Uma: Why do you want to take a picture with me, I am not a heroine!
Me: Dude, you don’t know what you are for me! I am from North India, I have spent ample time in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and also our national capital Delhi. It’s a dream to witness a lady bus conductor in North India especially in the regions where I have stayed.
So tell me about yourself, you are a star. What do you do? Who else is there at your home ?
Uma: I am a final year, BA student. I am studying in an open university and I am doing this conductor’s job for a living. My exams are in April post which I will take admission in Masters.
I asked what her subjects were and what her medium of study was. I also asked her about her family.
Uma: Political Science, Sociology, English etc. are my subjects and I study in Kannada medium. I don’t know good English, I know good Kannada (Karnataka’s regional language). I want to study in a good college. I want to learn good English. Medam, you are studying or working?
Me: I am working. We have come from Mumbai. Have you ever been to Mumbai?
Uma: No but I want to.
Me: Give me piece of paper. I wrote my name and number on that paper and gave it to her. Uma, whenever you come to Mumbai, do call me. I will meet you. We are Friends!
Uma: Laughingly….. Friends! Wow Friends! It was nice meeting you Medam.
I too showed my gratitude and guess what, last night I received a text message from her saying:
Hi Medam, I am Uma. Respect the feelings of people who touched your heart because you will never know when they will just walk out of your life and never come back.
Dear O Dear, you are not near, but I can hear, don’t get fear, your memories are here, live with cheer, no more tear, you are always my dear. This poem is for you. GOODNIGHT.
I immediately called her back and we chatted a bit. She told me, “Medam, you learn Kannada, we will talk in Kannada” ha ha ha ha ha ha!
And that is how I met Uma.