GOING BY BUS

Sounds like a topic for learning English, doesn’t it? However, these are notes about my recent trip to another town in Ukraine.

Only a small bus is supplied for an intercity route this time.  All the seats (about thirty of them) have been sold out and their occupants, including your humble narrator, are happily looking through the windows of the bus at those two dozen who haven’t managed to  get in. A plump lady – the ticket inspector – after checking the availability of the passengers gets out of the bus and waves to the two drivers inside to start off. The moment she turns her back on the bus one of the drivers makes a sign to the ticketless who are crowding at the side of the bus on the platform. When they see the sign, the would-be travelers race off in the direction shown. The bus backs from the platform, turns left and stops at a place about 100 meters away. The place is beyond the official territory of the bus-station and it’s quite legal for drivers to let new passengers in without their tickets being inspected by the plump lady.

Actually, there are no tickets. Ready cash is collected from the newcomers, and the small bus runs briskly along a busy thoroughfare. Babies are crying, the engine is droning, the bus is jumping on the “yamas” (pits on the road)…  A squeezed mass of people are clutching at bags on their knees, some others are trying to push huge bundles under the seats, still others are sitting on their suitcases in the passage.

Our 11-month-old granddaughter enjoys a priviledged space on the raised podium right behind the drivers. She is  staring at both of them with a special interest. I’m looking at her – this sight is better than any you can think of. And there’s no need to show a movie, which is often the case (not this time) on intercity buses. With or without the film, my eyes will be riveted on the dear tiny creature. Six hours of going by bus pass as fast as if it was only six minutes.

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