The Calcutta-London bus ‘resurfaces’, riding on old photos, memories. Some insights from those who took the journey through nine countries over land at a time when it did not appear so extraordinary
Every day after school, noted Pakistani travel writer Salman Rashid would see the rusty old cream and green coloured bus lying in a heap on the dusty Lawrence Road in Lahore. It had a glorious name, the Waltzing Matilda, like the Harry Belafonte song, with names of cities it had been to and once promised to take people to — London, Paris, Calcutta.
“I left Lahore in 1979 and went to live in Karachi. And sometime between 1979 and 1984, the bus disappeared,” Rashid, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, told TOI. The year 1979 was also when the Iran Revolution and the Russian occupation of Afghanistan changed the geopolitics of the region. By the 1980s, the borders of India and Pakistan had “become difficult,” as Rashid put it. The buses disappeared.