Sunday, June 21, 2009

Window Wars

An average Mumbaikar, for some reason, loves to sit next to an open window in vehicles. In trains, I see people fighting their guts out for a window seat. They love standing on the footboard of the door of the compartment. They like hanging out of the train by the sole centre-rod of the entrance for support. (I have my heart in my mouth most of the times, coz they are really, really careless when they do this.) In BEST buses too, as soon as someone sitting in a window seat alights, I have always seen people skittering from across the bus to “catch” it first!

I travel by bus to my office. I board it at the first stop, when the bus is virtually empty. So I get to sit in the window seat of my choice. The bus usually comes early and waits until it is the right time to leave.

The initial few days were peaceful; I was oblivious of the mundane “window rules” in the bus. Then, the trouble started brewing and I got dragged into *the war* slowly.

The windows in the bus are such that, they are shared between two seats. The person in the seat where the window opened the maximum seemed to have the right to decide whether it stays open or shut. That is where the root of all the trouble was.

It was Mumbai “winter”. In the mornings, the breeze that blew threw the window was a little cold and I didn’t like it. So I would slide my window shut. Once, after I slid the window shut, I realized that I should have asked my window-sharer if he was ok with this. I turned behind and asked if it was ok, and I got a very, very cold nod. That was when I realized that I had entered the war.

Next time, there was a lady sitting ahead of me. Normally, we ladies do not like our windows open, because it musses our hair. Most of us look “centre-shocked” by the time we reach office! She wanted our window to stay closed and so did I. At one of the stops, a gentleman came and sat next to me. Claustrophobic because of the closed window, he leaned forward to open it. I got the devilish glare from the seat ahead.

There is a funny thing that happens with these windows. As the bus picks up speed, and brakes, goes up and down flyovers, they tend to slide on their own and eventually shut by themselves. Once, there was a colleague sitting in the sit in front of me, and who obviously wanted his window wide open. He dozed off in some time and the window had started off on its way to a shutdown. With every brake, it slid a bit towards its destination.

I grinned to myself and thanked God, coz I secretly wanted the window to shut by itself. After a while, my fellow traveler woke up and saw his window shut and there! I got another fierce look...

Once, being the first one to board the bus, I sat in one of the empty seats. Thereafter, each person who came in seemed to falter a bit before choosing their place. After settling down in their seats, they would give me “the look”.

Unaware of the problem, I finally realized thus:

There was this gentleman who had his window seat “reserved”. I didn’t know abt this, so I chose his usual place to sit. He got into the bus, faltered a bit, looked at the window and then at me and chose another seat for the day. That seat again, seemed to be someone else’s usual seat. So, it was a cascading effect with every person taking someone else’s seat. Thereafter, each person would look around to try to find out who the culprit was for the disorder. Finally, their eyes would rest upon me.

My window opinion changes with the season. In winters, I would want my window to be closed. In summer, I couldn’t stand the sweltering heat and would want it open for a while. Come rains, I wonder what’s going to happen. Hopefully, the men would give in and let us close the window. Despite of the war, a staunch Mumbaikar that I am, I would never want to give up sitting next to a window!