Until recently I was acquainted with only two left-handers in the female fraternity and both Bharghavi Akka and Amrita are dear cousins from my mother side of the family. But the unique trait of these two individuals is that they have a mixed-dominance in the change of hands between different tasks.
Unlike the dominant use of the right arm in every work executed by the right-handed people, my left-handed cousins easily interchange their hands depending on the errand, and that’s out of common in the world.
Yesterday I had an oppurtunity to travel in a Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation city bus number 507D. The route operates between Krishnarajapuram and Yelahanka Old Town, taking a traffic clogged Ramamurthy Nagar, Ring Road, Nagawara and Hegde Nagar circuit. This one-off journey offered me an oppurtunity to observe an usual task carried out in an uncommon approach and it was an amusing diversion in otherwise what turned out to be a long and tedious ride.
Last evening at 6.20 PM I got in to the bus at Krishnarajapuram, settled in my seat and looked around for the conductor to purchase the ticket. Since it was the originating station of the bus, very few passengers had occupied the seats. As the bus slowly rolled out from the dusty platform, a slender figure got in from the front door and immediately set out to issue the tickets.
The lady conductor was dressed in a standard khaki chudidar uniform, a cream coloured weather beaten leather bag dangled from her right shoulder and a automated ticketing machine was hanging from her lean neck. Except for a pair of small earrings, she was adorned with none of the jewellery or the makeup that has now become essential add on for the women of her young age.
Sporting such a deliberately unrefined outlook, she had consciously made herself look insipid in her man dominated surroundings. If she had to work her way through the preying eyes of the beast, it was essential for a woman of her occupation to stay natural and blend in the crowd. But what triggered my interest was not her natural beauty, instead it was the manner in which she was issuing the tickets that caught my eyes.
The lady was a left-hander and until last evening I had never spotted a left-handed conductor on any of the journeys in my 39 years of travel by buses.
As she approached my seat, I handed her a 50 rupee banknote and requested for a ticket to my destination. In one swift pull with her left hand, she seized the currency from my fingers, folded the note vertically in middle and neatly tucked it with other banknotes already crammed between her right hand middle and ring fingers. Following in quick succession, using her left hand she pulled out a two 10 rupee banknotes from the cash stack and passed the currency over to me. Subsequently, the lady opened the cash bag, rummaged with her left hand for a 5 and 1 rupee coin and neatly dropped the pair on my palm. These were the return changes that were due to me. In next second, using her right hand she grabbed the ticketing machine and with her skinny left hand forefinger, she punched the unlock key, hit the destination code and as soon as the details were printed, still continuing to use her left hand, the conductor ripped the paper in one tug and swiftly thrust the ticket in my hand.
The entire transition lasted about 10 seconds and before I had safely placed the ticket in my wallet, the lady was already collecting the cash from my neighbouring passenger.
The attentive quickness of a graceful lady, coupled with the use of her delicate left hand for a simple task of issuing the bus ticket had turned the whole affair in to a strangely captivating wizardry.
As the bus passed from one stop to the next, slowly the number of passengers increased inside the bus. At some point during the journey a large group of passengers got on to the bus and as all the seats were filled by now, most of them ended up standing in the aisle. While the conductor got busy issuing the tickets to new passengers, I got busy staring shamelessly at her left handed magic.
As I continued to stare at the brisk moves of a left hand, the conductor finished issuing the tickets and her arms were given a rest. Suddenly, I was aware of a pair of eyes watching me stare at someone else’s hands and I felt awkward. With a doubt, I slowly looked up and glanced at the conductor’s face. Her eyes were set firmly on me and promptly my face turned red with guilt.
As we looked at each other for a few brief seconds, we exchanged a soft smile, reliving me of the anxiety.
Except being stupid, today women do better at every job that was once meant only for the men and that’s the power of courage.
Happy Women’s Day.