Need help with this essay.
Prompt: Tell us about an experience in which you left your comfort zone. How did this experience change you?
Both my parents work for the government and since childhood, I had the luxury of a government car and chauffeur. I was so used to being driven around that the thought of using public transport was quite revolting. But as someone had famously said-"There is always a first time"...
I have been residing in New Delhi, the national capital of India, for the last 8 years. This city offers excellent educational opportunities and therefore, my family and I decided that I would finish my high school graduation here itself even as my father had to return to Guwahati, my hometown, on transfer. Over-ruling my vehement protests, my parents decided that my car rides were to end and that I was to use the 'Delhi Public Transport system' for conveyance.
This is how I joined Delhi public transport clientele a few years back, travelling to my soccer coaching centre and occasionally, to school. My initial reaction to my father's decision of making me use public transport was that of angst. Public transportation in Delhi is an 'uncivil' process, where impatient people from all walks of life pull and shove their way into crowded buses or metros and scavenge for empty seats, like famished vultures for food. For an inexperienced youngster, boarding a bus was quite traumatic and the long waits at the bus stops a harrowing experience, especially after a gruelling 2 hour long soccer training session. My early experiences were quite dreadful. I remember falling down from a bus head first, spraining my ankle, breaking my spectacles and bruising my jaw. All this happened while attempting to exit a bus. The inconvenience did not end there as I had to walk a kilometre to reach home and then get 4 stitches.
Bus journeys seemed dull and insipid and I mostly used to stand in a corner and listen to music through headphones, oblivious of activities happening inside the bus. But my perspectives changed dramatically, when I started noticing 'things'. One day, travelling in a dilapidated city bus, I experienced my first Bus Fight. Bus drivers in Delhi are infamously rude and ill-mannered, always getting into petty arguments and shouting abuses. On this occasion, the bus driver, a unique specimen of mankind, got into a brawl with another bus driver who "dangerously" overtook him. Even though there was no violence, the profanity displayed by both shocked me. I removed my headphones and turned towards the other passengers, observing a unique mix of reactions. Some of the young 'supporters' of violence were on their feet, anticipating a no holds barred punch fest, and constantly instigating both the drivers, while the older and wiser population in the bus tried to stop the fight. I was a mute spectator to this drama, impressed by the differences in reactions and opinions of people. I realized that observing people was a great source of learning, even though the incidents were not always pleasant. Perhaps this is why the great Mahatma Gandhi travelled India in a third class coach, learning more about the emaciated common man and his problems.
The beauty of public transport in India is in the diversity of people using it. My fascination lies in observing these people. One can observe the old and young discuss politics and religion, women talk about personal difficulties, and a garrulous few airing verbose accounts of their adventures. The bus or metro, always crowded because of the large Delhi population, can provide enough inspirational opportunities. Listening to the most basic of problems faced by the ordinary citizens is thought provoking and makes one ponder on such issues for hours.
I now firmly believe that observation is the first step to learning. Observing people has made me appreciate diversity and learn more about the vast Indian Culture. Trying to discern a person's disposition and outlook by observing his/her facial expressions, reactions and demeanour is an intriguing activity and speaks volumes about the society and its people. This is how bus journeys made me aware of the people of my city and country.