I usually don’t use the overhead bridge at Shahid Gate when I get off at the zero point and head to office. I don’t need to, but today I did.
I took the Lalitpur Yatayat bus from Patan Dhoka at around 5: 30 pm. At Pulchowk a school girl got on and sat next to me. She was carrying books and I recognized them at once – AWON library. I was there on Saturday to return and check out some books. I rarely strike up a conversation with fellow passengers (coz my job requires a lot of talking) but today, I crossed that bridge and made the effort to talk to her.
Barbara Bradford Taylor, John Grisham were among the five books she held in her arms. I showed her the Agatha Christie I was carrying in my bag.
She comments, “Only one book?”
“Well, I got Moby Dick too, at home,” I reply.
“Oh you’re reading classics? I don’t understand them…I read an abridged version of the book.”
“I want to read it because I want to know why it is such a classic…”
She asked me if I was a student. I said that I wish I were. I miss college. She asked me if I had any hobbies. I said I do, but I don’t have any time for them these days. I wish I really were a student again.
“I hope I won’t miss college,” she says. She is in Grade 11 – a science student, but doesn’t really like science. “Sometimes when I am reading (novels) I think of equations and things taught in class.” She reads novels to bed.
It reminded me of myself, when I used to read story books every day after 10 pm. No matter how much homework I had, I would get on my bunk bed (on the top), and start reading. I would rather get up in the morning to complete that Nepali homework.
“What kind of music do you listen to?” she quizzes again.
“Oh…I listen to all kinds of music,” I say.
As if she is appalled she says, “You like dohori music tooo?”
“…I don’t….but I do listen to Nepali pop songs.”
“How often do you travel in buses?”
“They always play dohoris….,” she makes a face. I laugh. “I listen to the songs in my phone.”
“Well, they don’t allow us to bring ipods or mobiles to college, even if they are switched off.”
“That’s not bad. I didn’t have a mobile until after A levels. You can sing to yourself then…”
We both laugh. We pay for our fares. She says, “It’s seven rupees if you have a student ID.” Well, I wish I were a student, again, but I don’t mind paying the 11 rupees.
And so we found out that we didn’t live too far from each other. We both dislike economics. She finds her English teacher confusing. We exchange names in between. I tell her that I am a reporter. She says she’ll look out for my name in the paper.
The bus was stuck in a traffic jam at the Bagmati bridge and our conversation went on until I had to get off at Shahid gate and head to work.
And that’s when I decided to take the stairs and go across the bridge, to the other side.