At least once a week my two friends and I get together to grab dinner and chat about anything interesting that has happened since we last met. They often have stories to tell that revolve around their daily commute to work on the public bus. This commute, in addition to upping their weekly expenses, has provided them with an endless amount of amusing experiences that they kindly share with me during our get-togethers. Their weekly tales from the city bus are wide and varied; an act of kindness from a stranger; a broken down bus; a particular odor that was so repulsive, so revolting, so out-of-this world that it could not possibly have been from earth- that it must have seeped up from the depths of hell- “oh wait, actually it’s coming from that man over there holding a decomposing chicken.”
If ever fresh out of anything to write about, my P.O.A will be to hop on ye old city bus for a few hours and soak in the experience. I’m pretty confident a mere afternoon on the bus would afford me with enough posts for a month or so. And this certainly isn’t confined to India. It’s not just an India public transport thing, it’s a global public transportation thing. Everyone from every corner of the world has an amusing public transportation story because public transportation, my friends, is so much more than just a ride, it’s an adventure.
This post is about an experience my friends, Midge and Reiko, had on the bus that they shared with me during our weekly gathering. Please note, those are not their real names (though I do wish I had two friends named Midge and Reiko. Especially Midge.) What follows is my visual and textual reinterpretation of their adventure, which I have titled:
Midge and Reiko got on their usual bus to work. The bus was very crowded as always, but Reiko managed to grab the last available seat. Midge found some standing space right beside Reiko.
A young woman seated next to Reiko was holding her baby. It was a cute little bugger, and Reiko, being the naturally friendly person she is, smiled kindly at the baby as she wiggled its little bugger toes. People got on and off. The conductor yelled in Hindi. The bus sped through town. And Midge and Reiko chatted about…I dunno…deep sea diving. All was going as usual on this seemingly average commute.
*note: bus was much more crowded than drawing appears*
The bus rides in our city are always bumpy. Not REALLY bumpy, but bumpy enough to make a little, tiny baby a bit nauseous. And with each bump on this bus ride, Reiko noticed that the baby sitting next to her was getting a little more purple— a little more visibly sick— a little more barfy.
“Oh no. This baby is gonna vom all over me.”
She tried to scoot away, but the bus was way too crowded. There was nowhere to run. And then the moment came that Reiko knew was coming.
But something extraordinary happened. Something remarkable. The mother of the baby exhibited superhuman reflexes and nabbed the baby’s vom before it splashed all over Reiko.
Midge and Reiko were stunned. Both were completely astonished at the phenomenal display of ninja-like prowess that occurred right before their very eyes. But more than that, they were filled with the utmost gratitude for the mother that had seized the projectile vomit milliseconds before reaching Reiko’s face.
However, what seemed like a vom crisis narrowly averted, suddenly and unexpectedly took a turn for the worse as everyone slowly began to think—
What was this woman going to do with the baby vomit resting in her hand?
Naturally, one would think the first and obvious place to dispose of the baby vom would be out the window.
However, it seemed like the mother had another option in mind. As she sat there, holding her baby’s vom in her hand, her eyes slowly shifted to the floor— right where Reiko’s feet were.
Reiko and Midge saw where the woman’s gaze had landed. Her intended baby vom disposal target became very clear.
“The window. THE WINDOW. THROW__IT__OUT__THE__WINNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW”
Midge shouted and pleaded, hoping the woman would realize the window was a much more suitable place to dispose of the spew. But she had made her choice. Her hand, right over Reiko’s uncovered feet, slowly began to rotate. The baby vom was about to fall. Reiko, too horrified at what was about to happen, was frozen in a panic- unable to do anything.
Procession of events:
Adding to the horrors that had just happened, were the smiles from all the bystanders, who apparently thought the whole situation was just cute and dandy. At this point Midge screamed,
“STOP THE BUS.“
I imagine they just stood there for a while, wherever they were, trying to internalize what had just happened. That a woman, without thinking it the least bit rude or utterly unhygienic, deliberately dropped her baby’s spew all over a stranger’s foot.
Fifteen minutes later.
That’s the end of that story. But maybe we can put a positive spin on it. Everything is relative. While baby vomit in America is something not so great, in India, maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe baby vom is considered a blessing from god, maybe in India it’s….the best gift eva?
Could this crazy woman on the bus actually have been extremely kind? This baby vomit might have been a wonderful gift to Reiko- a foot perfume of some sorts. Perhaps that is why all the Indians stood with such grand smiles upon their faces, brought out by witnessing such an enormous act of generosity as the woman gave her oh-so-precious and valuable baby vomit to a stranger.
This leads me to two conclusions. The first is that I think there is a great gap in the world of knowledge. Someone needs to undertake some serious, extensive academic research on the cultural significance of baby vom, not just in India, but across the globe.
So I call upon you, academics and liberal hippie students! Now is your time! Grab your pens, grab your moleskine notebooks, grab your North Face backpacks and head overseas to study the cultural significance of baby spew. Just think of the cultural insights we can learn!!!
Second, maybe I should start wearing sneakers when I’m on the bus.