Interstate-bus travel experiences are an endurance test of bladder control, sleep deprivation, 7.1 channel ear molestation and other skullfuckery, depending on the bus operator and length of ride. Buses are affordable and environmentally friendly, in comparison to travelling by air or private taxi, so there’s that. Tickets are easily available, and if you have any last minute plans, they might be your only choice. For all the brave n00b bus travelers in India, these are 10 survival tips accumulated from life-experience.
1) The back of the bus is always the worst
Your journey is more than likely to take you through potholed roads. If you’re a fussy sleeper, this is going to be one of those nights where you can entertain all your existentialist thoughts. As a thumb rule, the middle of the bus is the sweet spot.
2) Have an exit strategy
There’s noone to give you a PSA on this, but it’s important. Considering the stories you hear of bus accidents and fires, your life may depend on how easily you can jump out of a bus in flames. Check if your windows slide – many AC buses have no sliding windows. Carry a heavy object that can smash windows in an emergency. I always keep a Swiss knife handy, which also the qualities of a hammer.
3) Window Vs. Aisle
Both have their advantages and disadvantages – the aisle seat provides an easy exit, while the window seat provides ventilation and a view. The left side of the bus usually has both these features, so make this your first choice, preferably in the middle.
4) Sleeper > Semi Sleeper
Semi-sleeper buses are a pain in the back – you’re probably not used to napping on a chair, even if it reclines. Most people who do get some sleep will have to endure some kind of orthopedic funk when a speed bump snaps your neck, just as you were entering REM mode.
5) Don’t over-hydrate yourself
Your bus may have a couple of stops in the way, with urinals in varying levels of quality. Sometimes you may have to pee in the bushes. If you’re female, GoGirl is a useful #FML #lifehack.
— thenextmeme (@TheNextMeme) February 13, 2014
6) Essential Gear: Pollution Mask
The Neomask proved indispensable during a bus journey where a lady on the opposite window coughed half her body-weight in phlegm into an 80kmph headwind from the first seat. I suspect this woman ate a tub of dalda for dinner. It was also quite useful at the bus depot, where diesel buses fumigate passengers who show up early.
7) Essential Gear: Eye-patch
Headlights hitting your face at regular intervals may prevent you from getting any sleep. This can happen when one of your co-passengers wants to enjoy the view at night.
8)Essential Gear: Neck Brace
If semi-sleeper is the only option you’ve got, a neck brace can shield your neck from speedbump/pothole-related trauma.
9) Essential Gear: In-ear/noise cancelling headphones
Any personal entertainment will also go a long way. Bus journeys are a great time to catch up on podcasts or standup comedy. Headphones can also shield you from the worst of Indian cinema – bawdy item numbers, action movie histrionics, from being blasted simultaneously into all of your orifices on a 7.1 surround sound system.
10) AC Vs Non A/C?
Non AC buses are more environmentally-friendly and probably safer. AC buses are recommended if your route takes you through any pollution hotspots in India.
Pollution hot spots in India – via Toxics Link. pic.twitter.com/INOT1d1EnE
— thenextmeme (@TheNextMeme) February 26, 2014
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— The Next Meme (@TheNextMeme) April 10, 2014