Friday, 14 September 2012

Aaste, Ladies!

I opened my wallet. There lied four horizontally folded ten rupees notes. Horizontally folded. I smiled to myself. A bus ride. After ages.
And what fun bus rides were! Just the sight of folded notes and a rush of the adrenaline…..I remember how I used to impress my man by alighting a moving bus (I know, obnoxious I am), how chatty I used to get with the conductors and co-passengers, the first lessons of verbal abuse, the bum-frying experiences on bus-engines when sat upon, the favouritism towards Midis over Mini buses on account of their “Ladies” seats...
And that phenomenal statement “Aaste Ladies!!” Often followed by “Koley bachcha”. (people who are from my city would actually sense the tone, right now, isn’t it?....“Aaaaste ladies, koley bachcha!”). The use of “Ladies” in all its manifestations, especially for a single lady owes its origin to bus-conductors. “Ladies ke namie de”, “ladies ta ki dekhte mairi”, “apni ladies bole kichhu bolchi na” are some of the many uses of this extraordinary phrase while referring to a woman.  
Then, I have other much loved phrases as well. I repent not travelling in a bus too often. I miss the daily dose of humour, the witty conversations and the simplicity of ways of life. (As a word of abundant caution, I must mention here that by ‘Bus’, I mean those 42Bs, 37s, SD-4s and not those swanky A.C. Volvo buses).
A few months back, I was flipping through a book on Kolkata which had an excellent collection of phrases used in a bus. This post is a combination of my own favourites and those listed in the book.
1.      Bhara to baarlo, ebar taratari chalan (as if the speed of the vehicle is directly proportional to the rate of increase of its fares).

2.      Ami ki notun? Ami rojkar daily passenger (the annoyed passenger threatens the conductor when imparted ‘gyaan’. And not to miss the same fallacy of ‘suppose dhhor’ in ‘rojkar daily’!)

3.      Upto Howrah porjonto roj daily passenger kori, jaaneyn? (same as above. To add, the use of ‘upto’ and ‘porjonto’ in the same sentence).

4.      Laagley awaj hobey (Conductors to cars while overtaking them).

5.      Haalka kor (Conductor to driver asking him to slow down the bus so that a passenger can get down at an unscheduled stop).

6.      Pichone shatun (Conductor’s irritated exclamation towards passengers asking them to move away from the entrance towards the inside).

7.      Ei je dada! Boudir sindur-er kheyal raakhben. Handle dhore oto jhulben na! (Conductor to passengers standing on the footboard, almost hanging from the entrance)

8.      Dichhi-dichhi korben na! (Conductor to passenger delaying in buying the ticket).

9.      Ki dada, Fevicol na ordinary? (Question asked by a standing passenger to the one sitting right infront of him in order to know where he would get down. If the answer is ordinary, he would wait….if its Fevicol, the passenger would try his luck elsewhere).

10.  Barite ma bon nei? (For many men, ‘elbow diye thelbo’ is the order of the day. For their elbowing stances, this is the most common phrase used by female passengers.) Now, I have a story to tell here. In my entire life, I have used this sentence only once to which the reply was “jeta tomar songe korte chai, sheta to ma - bon er songe kora jayna”. On the indecisiveness as to whether I shall laugh,  cry or faint, I decided not to use this phrase ever.
And then there are hawkers to add colours to the bus-rides.
1.      Shishu kaande ma-er koley, pepsi-pepsi khabo bole (marketing ice-colas in thin plastic pouches priced at five rupees).

2.      Gaacher opor pakhir basa, pepsi khabo moner asa (same product)

3.      Joto chusben toto ross, na kinle company-r loss (no, not the same product. Marketing jelly lozenges, orange candies).

4.      Eije Dadara, idurer bachchara……jodi khhaye, oboshhyoi morbe (marketing rat poison).

5.      Kena-na-kena bektigoto byapar, dekhashona free (marketing general knowledge books, Kishore-Kumar-lyrics-in-Bengali books etc.)

6.      Chup-chap boshe na theke tuk-tak mukhh chalan (marketing Jhaalmuri).

7.      Debo naki? Chhal chhariye nun makhiye? (marketing raw mango)

8.      Benimadhob Sil-er phool panjika, bajare etar daam 20 taka…kintu amar kachhe eta apnara paben 10 takay. Tar songe company theke ekta teen takar dot-pen free. (marketing Bengali almanac).

9.      Agey khan pore daam, bhalo lagle company-r naam (marketing pathhar-hazam churans, amla candies, mouth fresheners etc.)

10.  Ek takay paanch, du takay dosh, na kinle apnar loss (same as above).

On another note, I remember a statement I made. “No one beats a Bong in this wisecracks. No one”. I chanced upon a picture made by my brother’s friend Avirup (NID graduate and a very talented soul) on speeding public-vehicles in Kolkata. And here it is.

I reiterate the statement I made.


  1. aro koyekta mone elo:

    a) 'ami pocha badamwala.....ami sudhu pocha badam bechi..' (negative marketing...very famous in Sealdah)

    b) 'etodin chosatam ekhon lagate esechhi...lojen beche labh hoyna...tai ekhon molom bechhi....' (once heard in a bandel local)

    1. ema ki baje tui! sotti bol, second ta banali na?

    2. Rohan shon, aar ekta sunechi kalke: "Didi, apnarta dekhi"... (conductor to female passenger, bhhara chaite giye)

  2. people of kolkata who are forced to travel in these buses regularly for long durations may not appreciate your light-hearted take on this.

    I had to suffer it a lot in my teens. Thank god, I have managed to move out of kolkata to a city full "swanky A.C. Volvo buses".\m/

    1. I took time to reply.
      I know there are thousands of people in Kolkata who travel by crowded buses. I was very much one of them. I would even stand on the footboard and travel. My father would see me almost hanging from the 13C bus, pass by in his car and never offer a ride. When asked several times of the reason behind this selfish behavior, his reply would be “Nijer khomota hok, gari keno, choro. Ekhon college e poro.” Of the various things I am proud, my father tops the chart. But that’s not the point here. What I fail to understand is, why would people lose their sense of humour or see the lighter side of things, just because they have to travel long hours in a bus? I thankfully, have never come across such people. I cannot relate to it because of my mental frame. And I guess, of the various things my father is proud of me, this tops the chart.
      My best wishes to you. Swanky AC buses, clean cities are always a delight. Tragic enough, but those never attract me for living. Defective mental frame to be blamed.
      For Kolkata, I am more married to this city, than am married to one Joydeep Ghosh. So, be it.
      Much love,

  3. A variation of phrase No. 6 used by the conductors is "Pechhone Egiye Jaan". Once some journalist in "The Statesman" had commented, that the conductors statement perhaps reflects the only manner in which Bengal can move.

  4. Sikh Transit Gloria Mundis. Refer to

  5. excellent.....have not had such a gud laugh in a long time........

  6. "Dichhi-Dichhi Korben Na, Satheek Bhara Deben"
    Have seen that inscribed inside buses..
    Wonderful read it again..this time, read it aloud to my parents and they loved every bit of it!
    Write on..