elb's hovel of thoughts

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Night Bus Terror Ride

After helping a friend move her belongings to a location along Edgware Road, three of us headed back to Knightsbridge, where we were staying for the night. At 1 something AM, the Underground is shut, so we basically had to catch a night bus. We checked the bus routes. One bus, the number 36, would pass by the appropriate stop.

Simple and straightforward. The bus came, we climbed on and showed our pass, and went to sit upstairs (it was a double decker). So the bus went. By the time it had crossed the Thames river, I could not help but feel some apprehension. Especially after we reached Vauxhall (that is South-East London; we wanted to go South-West). Okay, cool down. The bus would soon turn west and make a circle, I told myself despite the alarm bells going off in my head.

Unfortunately, it was really not to be. The bus continued moving south east. All of the sudden, I spotted on the side of the road: Caribbean Store. African restaurant. Oh shit. Shady characters began to board the bus. Imagine those people in the hip hop videos surrounding you at 2.30am, unsmiling. NOT GOOD. Especially not with my several thousand ringgit camera on me.

Then this weird character came in. He had on his head the most ridiculous makeshift turban (for lack of a better description). It was a huge blue cloth (or was it plastic?) thingy, which reminded me of an Alien:


Image taken from legendshobbies.com



Just replace the skull/ brain of that alien with a big blue mesh enclosing a mass of what I presume was hair, and add a (Middle-Eastern face, if I remember, or was it African) face of someone in his 40s. It would have been hilarious, if not for the situation we were in. I'm afraid my Photoshop skills are too limited for producing a caricature. Sorry :P

So anyway, we were scared shitless. Would you dare to get out and cross the road and wait for the next bus the opposite road in that kind of neighbourhood? I wouldn't. There were a couple of opportunities to get out, run across the road and get back on a returning bus. But the other two were stuck rigid and refused to!

Eventually we arrived at a place called Park Grove (a good hour plus away and probably at least 50 km away from where we wanted to be), where the bus turned around; we finally reached back to my friend's place at 4 something am, very sleepy and very relieved. Especially me, because I wasn't mugged. No pictures available, no bloody way I would dare to take my camera out of its bag.

All because we boarded bus N36 (N for night), whereas the information we garnered earlier was for bus 36. What a whole load of difference it made! Lesson learnt.

p.s. It wasn't a totally Black neighbourhood, but they represent a sizeable figure of the area we passed through. Interesting characters included Mr. Alien; another African man who did his hair into two pigtails, and an African casanova who kept his hand on a Caucasian lady's thigh across the aisle during the time they were on the bus. The rest were characters out of a hip-hop video, some drunks on the way home from the pubs, and some Asian teenagers (the girls were yummy).

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