Super Hasan Zai - Remembering A Decrepit Bus From Hell

Super Hasan Zai - Remembering A Decrepit Bus From Hell
Super Hasan Zai is a decrepit, sad excuse for a bus that runs from Sindh Medical College to Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Karachi; or at least it did when I was a young medical student.

I traveled this bus-ted vehicle just once, out of juvenile curiosity, to experience public transport firsthand – an experience that I would neither repeat nor forget.

I would often see this falling-apart, over-speeding faraari. Yes! You read it right: faraari! (No Formula 1, though). It oversped clearly as if ‘faraar’ from a crime scene. Doddering along equally wrecked roads, over-consuming the remains of a moribund engine exuding black, demonic soot from Super’s unflattering backside – a bad case of gastro engin-itis indeed!

I often saw my classfellows step in and out of this menacing ride. While I covertly gushed at their guts, I was grateful for my own bit of privilege that allowed me a personal ride to and from college.

One day though, I decided to brave the odds and climb into the dodgy ride, of course with experienced company who had been in a public bus before.

That wretched ride that lasted nearly an hour left me with a few important life lessons:


Everything ‘Super’ isn’t always a hero



Respect yields respect

The moment I entered the abysmal wretch that Super was, I couldn’t help but revere my classfellows and all other respectable citizens, who had to resort to Super and it’s likes for transportation. Braving the stench and a hollering, insolent, self-declared Super overlord – the conductor; having to often hang by a rusty railing on a bumpy ride where a slight jolt would hurl you down on all fours; the bus ride was a trial many had to endure every day to reach daily business. For talented and hardworking people such as these, whose self-esteem is trampled by the wheels of a rusty tin can every day, salvage is only an IELTS away; to reach a far-off land where the public has access to respectable transportation at the least. Enough with the rhetoric on ‘brain drain’ when there is practically no display of guilt on the brain pain inflicted especially on the bright, young minds. They will flee when the time comes.


Never give up your kursi (seat)!

Whether in a rickety bus or any other (proverbially rickety) place with a ‘kursi’ in it! The kursi waits for no one! Within a few fleeting moments you bequeath it to an observant, bystander in the lurch! You spend the rest of the wobbling trip cramped between the overlord (read conductor) and a fellow passenger. You should feel very lucky if at this point you are hanging out the bus in the great, windy outdoors. The chances of breaking a bone by falling out the speeding Super are fairly less than passing out, stuck between reeking underarms. Certainly not the right place to be in a packed ride where a stinking armpit would anyway be the least of your concerns if you do find yourself wobbling between two humans. Big price indeed for leaving your kursi!


Ladies…correction…Ladiss; should not always have to go first 

The ladiss conventionally seated in front; in Super can do lot better seated at the back. Perhaps it is within these deep recesses of the Super they can enjoy the obscurity they are subjected to when it comes to their rights and privileges. On the contrary though, placed at the front, they are met with scathing ogles and stares that cut right through their hijabs and burkas and chadars! These women and girls deserve every bit of respect for stepping out in a world full of perverted, lustful men venting their frustration, gawking at the female passengers. Shameful!


When life throws you a curve ball, you bend it like Beck…no no…you bend it like Super

Super would literally bend around turns, almost tipping over, giving a distant observer, chills down the spine! With every turn the unbuckled, hanging and hovering, passengers would fling to the turning end, massing up, shifting the center of gravity only enough to miraculously fall back on its lifted end, in a clear defiance of all physical laws just as Super makes a clean cut. Just as passengers tumble back in order (or disorder) you almost hear self-imagined applause on returning back to earth from a space flight as the last few Gs wear off. Amidst the applause in your head, you also hear a rib or two break. The lunatic behind the wheel drives around the city unapologetically as if on a homicidal rampage. Wonder which other lunatic granted him a driving license.


To Err is Superr

Super like many of its peers on the road came with a human indicator who would flank an arm in the direction the bus would turn next. Since ‘to err is human’ there is no guarantee though the bus would turn where the arm had flanked. You should feel extremely fortunate not to be driving behind Super. It would take exhaustive amount of intuitive thinking to get past Super safely. God help you if Super finds a forlorn passenger stranded in the middle of the road because Super WILL stop in the middle of the road to fetch a customer! You just have to premeditate or ram into the beat-up bumper that halts and catches you off guard. This will leave you at a mechanic’s because the Super will continue on the road unhinged, literally.


No free lunches

In return for all the skin-tanning soot, uncomfortable gawking, brushing past death, you still have to pay up. The Super overlord spares no one. No matter where you are in the Super, under a seat, over the roof, you have to pay the price for making a Super choice!


I don’t know if Super Hasan Zai still runs the same route, it did nearly two decades ago, but considering Pakistan has been running the same course for 75 years, Super might as well be.