The bus came to a halt. It was out of fresh air. I had been sitting in an upright position for as long as I can remember and I needed to stretch my legs and let them breathe. Also, I needed an escape from Nepali songs. They all had a very common tune that I was initially enjoying but it got to my head after a certain point of time. I got down and paced along the Hetauda bus park while keeping a constant look out for my bag on the seat.
I had taken a bus for Birganj from Narayanghat, which was approximately a four hour long journey counting for the half an hour stoppage at Hetauda; both these towns belong to the great nation of Nepal but they scarcely show any likeness. Narayanghat comes under the southern-central part of Nepal. It is set on the slope landing of hills and lies on the left bank of Narayani River. It carves itself a spot in the lush green forests and the low hills of the Chitwan Conservation Area. While Birganj, the town I was headed, is set on the plains and touches the border of Bihar, a state of India. Forests and hills is a far cry for the inhabitants of Birganj. They are simply happy being a transit for goods and people between these two nations.
Anyway, the bus dropped many occupants in Hetauda Bus Park and picked up even more on its way out. Suddenly all the new occupants of the bus looked Indian. I distinctly noticed it because I had spent my last month in the company of Nepali looking and Nepali speaking people and suddenly the bus bursted with Indian looking men and women, who were conversing in Bhojpuri, a dialect popular in Bihar and its neighboring Indian states. All this while, outside by the window, I could observe the hills, slowly and gradually, making way for plains; the forest cover, unhurriedly, clearing out for barren land and the Narayani river, little by little, running its course away from the road and soon losing out from plain sight. As the bus paced along, everybody had noticed that the landscape changed significantly. It was not a grand disclosure to me too, since I had done this road previously in my father’s car; but it wouldn’t have hit me to notice that people and their languages are also gently drifting, from one locality to the other; the type of clothes were the same: jeans, pants and shirts for men while salwar kameez for women but their preference of colours transformed remarkably. Also, the songs in the bus switched to Bollywood tunes to adjust to its new occupants liking.
This immense transformation tuned me to the awareness and appreciation of diversity that we read in books but never really experience in its entirety. A mere bus ride did not expose the subtle changes of this grand conversion but I am glad I took a ride with diversity; these buses are usually full of it and an observant eye always cherishes it.The point is, that this bus journey was a small, and yet a beautiful ride of revelation. I experienced, in progression, the transformation of culture, language and architecture as we traversed together towards the border.