There is a reason why people are surprised when I tell them I’m walking through this part of town. Once I get to the streets I smell the thick smog. My 15 minute walk will take me on asphalt through banks and various Indian owned shops. All covered in the same shade of gray. Although it is sunset I do not gawk in awe of this magnificent gray cityscape. I have a bus to catch.
Puduraya is probably the busiest bus depot we have. A hundred counters line up to sell you bus rides to any town on the Peninsular. Though the booths are stationary, ticket pushers gather around the main gate to get an upper hand. As I walk into the depot they try to sell me tickets to places I have no intention of going. They badger and follow me until they find other people to badger and follow. This place gets its smell out of a cocktail of car fumes and bus smog from below. It is hot. I doubt there is technology advanced enough to cool down an open bus depot crowded with hundreds of people. If there is we cannot afford it here.
Three counters tell me that they’ve sold out all tickets to Penang. I’m desperate and decide to get a ticket from a ticket pusher for double the usual fare. He says its because it is a special bus. This does not comfort me. I walk down towards the buses and wait beside what used to be a garden. I assume that all the plants were suffocated by years of bus fumes.
The other passengers and I start to worry after an hour’s wait. But then things start happening very quickly. First a 3 foot tall midget comes round and demands that we pay him more money to bring us to our bus. He is the meanest midget I have ever met and we submit. Then he leads us up the stairs, quickly pass the crowds and out of the depot. Some of the passengers are left behind while we cross the street, walk up another block of buildings to get to a gas station where there is a bus. As we try to get on the bus driver starts shouting at the midget. Midget shouts back. I’m hoping this is about the extra money we paid him so we have a chance of getting it back. The shouting goes on until both decide to leave, leaving us stranded beside the bus. 30 minutes pass before a replacement driver comes to let us into the bus. I thank god the air conditioning works.