Delhiwale: Escaping to Nainital lake
- A monsoon evening at a bus terminus.
Bus terminals, or bus addas, aren’t thought to have the romance of a railway station, or an airport’s departure lounge.
Such a prejudice collapses while aimlessly wandering in Kaushambi Bus Station in Ghaziabad—it’s across the interstate Delhi-UP border, in Anand Vihar. This evening, after a day-long rain, the inundated bus station ground is looking like Nainital lake. The sky, the departing buses, and the passengers are being reflected in its stagnant water. Most people are oblivious to this beauty. Despite being a busy terminus, there isn’t much crowd. Some dozens of people are sheltering under gigantic tin sheds lined with benches. Each bench is operating like a stage showing its own soap opera. In one, a middle-aged couple is sitting, the woman absentmindedly playing with the man’s nose as they chat; three elderly men are perched on another, loudly arguing about UP politics; on another bench, a woman is sleeping. And bus station staffer Ram Kishen is hard at work—cleaning the tiled floor with a machine, his arm tattooed with a bleeding heart.
Hundreds of buses are parked in the station. Some are filled with passengers, and ready to leave for their respective destinations. Others are empty, their departure probably scheduled for later in the night. The name of the city each bus is headed to is prominently painted on its destination plate. Reading these place-names—most are in UP— makes you feel as if you have already escaped Delhi. Stationed at the edge of a metropolis, it is thrilling to find a material connection to these towns that seem to be part of some remote world—Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Gola, Tanakpur, Inhauna, Jagdishpur, Khurja, and Balia.
Since it has again started to drizzle, the next best thing if you aren’t boarding a bus is to enter one of the eateries that line the bus station. Order Maggi noodles with scrambled eggs. It’s spicy, steaming, delicious, and a kind of quick stomach-filler commonly found in a bus-friendly highway dhaba.
Meanwhile, a pair of pigeons is skipping in the rain pool, like a long-time couple vacationing in the great outdoors.