The Chartered Bus Syndrome

Jun 17th, 2010 | By | Category: Articles

Since as back as I can remember Mr. D, our neighbor, I have seen him strolling with a newspaper at 7am in his verandah, after which he would go inside, and then emerge an hour later, fully dressed, lunch in one hand, and rush out of his home and keep running till he found himself inside his bus. A chartered bus. Then at 5:30 pm he could be seen walking back to his house, at a much more relaxed pace than in the morning, after which he would shortly appear for a game of badminton. His next public appearance would be the next morning, in his verandah. And life for Mr. D rolled on like this.

I looked at him and all the office going clan, with pity and despair, not because they had to run after their chartered buses, but because I felt that if I had to exist in that manner, I would die of monotony and boredom. But he did not seem to mind it at all. He would always smile with an air of contentment; as if there was nothing more he wanted from his life.

Life, in the sarkari colony where I grew up, was the same for most people around me. They all, according to me, suffered from the Chartered Bus Syndrome – get up at one particular time, leave the house, catch a particular bus, take a particular seat, say the same hello to the same people every day and live today like yesterday, which was like the day before. Doesn’t the monotony kill them, I wondered? How can they look happy – they have probably boarded this bus a thousand times – don’t they want to move on, up, or simply be somewhere else? How can people work 20 years in the same office? What keeps them going?

And then one day, something happened which not only changed my perspective, but also gave me an answer to this. I got a job, and I became one of them. And worse, for a variety of reasons -like staying in the suburbs, lack of any other viable transport, and the pathetic state of public transport – I got hooked to a chartered bus. Me. A chartered bus. I must admit I wasn’t able to look myself in the mirror for about a week.

As they say, all love stories begin with hatred, and so did mine. While I told myself that this was a only a temporary state of affairs, each morning I found myself hurrying up to the bus stand, hoping that I hadn’t missed the bus. However, though I was still in denial about my love for the bus, it soon dawned upon me when, one day, I missed it. That day, I lost not only time, a lot of money, my status as a punctual worker, but also my hatred for the green eight wheeled giant.

Gradually, I fell in love with it. I loved the sight of the green bus, as it turned into the road on which I stood. As I boarded it, familiar faces would smile at me and offer to have me ‘adjusted’ when it was crowded. Each morning, I prayed for its timely arrival. Suddenly my priorities somewhat changed and everything seemed to revolve around that bus. – ‘Oh, I can’t go for a late night show, I have a bus to catch early morning,’ or ‘I have to finish this work by 5pm – my bus, you know.’

I have gradually cultivated a deep respect and admiration for Mr. D, and all the people who wait for their chartered buses, coolly 5 minutes in advance. I can now understand that when life – unstable and ever changing as it is today – throws challenges at us on a daily basis, we need to hang on to the few permanent things in life. I too now suffer from the Chartered Bus Syndrome, whose definition I have reworked over time.

CBS, to me now, is about being content with your life, even if it rolls on predictably, because I realize that it takes a lot of hard work to make tomorrow predictable. And when it is, all you want to say is – Thank God, the chartered bus is here!

Image courtesy: mzacha from



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Aastha Sharma has written 3 articles on The MAG. View all articles by

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  1. ha ha too good aastha…n good to see you back! keep it up ! 🙂

  2. interesting perspective… i guess everyone wants to reach an ‘equilibrium’ of sorts at some point…for some it is the CBS that symbolizes this ‘equilibrium’ … each to his own…

  3. Lovely!! Brings back so many memories 🙂

  4. Former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, during his DRDO days, visited the same restaurant, everyday at the same time, sat on the same seat, and had the same Masala Dosa – for 20 Years! If monotonicity could kill, we would never have had our ballistic missiles and atomic bombs! (Is it good or bad though?)
    Your article is very nicely written. Let more of them flow!

  5. @Priya: Thanks. Hope this will continue…
    @Mohit: Right, boss. Thanks
    @Anjali: I know! Merci!
    @Rajat: Thanks. Liked your Diary.

  6. I liked the article … it is like ‘ aapbiti’ 🙂 good good , very good.

  7. it is very easy to say that you dislike people who live a monotonous life but when it comes to you, you understand that theres not much option left. keep writing.

  8. Really well said story. Liked the title. I think many of us would have been throuh this kind of situation. Thenk you Rajat for your story too.

  9. @ Damyanti, Vivek, Kewal : Thanks for the feedback!

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