Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


BEST runs a fairly competent bus system in mumbai.

if you have followed my earlier posts, i frequent their services a lot these days.

bus journeys are more interesting than train journeys. some reasons
1. less crowded
2. majority of seated passengers are awake
3. majority are not focussed on getting off/taking the right position etc
4. more diverse and more 'seeable' outside vistas.

and the top reason is because of the Master. this is how the bus conductor is called. a genius - whoever conjured up this title.

masters are a source of constant entertainment and noise. herding passengers, snapping their punches, soliciting tickets, ringing the bell, etc., they are always generating some aural stimulation.

their money bag is organised like a dream. separate pouches for rupee notes, 2 and 1 rupee coins, 50 np coins. the 5 rupee coin is in their lower shirt/coat pocket. the top pocket is where the main loot is kept. all the notes are arranged in perfect order.

the top of the tin ticket box has a wet sponge for wetting the thumb before yanking off the ticket. the inside of the ticket box has this elaborate chart giving the ticket rates for each leg.

seeing them in action gives me a lot of joy. low brain work, high efficiency, high predictability, ordering masses of people.
will take it any day :-)


Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

master, yes, thats a masterful stroke! of course, as we all know, that profession is responsible for creating Superstars out of ordinary mortals!

csm said...

another point...
BEST is more a middle class service. you would rarely find very poor junta on it like in train due to the cost factor.
chennai bus fares are at best 50% of BEST fares. the max would be Re 5 in chennai.
a majority of the travelling public will fall in this narrow demographic which makes it more open in communication.

Vanessa said...

Chennai bus service is much cheaper, yes. And the travel is much better for women. Men are better behaved, there is no misbehaving, eve-teasing etc. In Mumbai most men are unhappy about 4 Ladies seats and there half the bus is reserved for ladies.

Once, by mistake i climbed from the Men's side of the bus. I realised the mistake, but had no problem. Did not think it was big deal...But, the men were embarassed and they all quickly made way for me to get to the Women's side. Remembering those embarassed faces still makes me laugh.

csm said...

in chennai buses, there is a misunderstanding. while the row/column on the exit side is compulsorily reserved for women, the other row/column (behind the driver) is general.
same as in mumbai locals. women can get into the non-ladies compartment, much to the chagrin of the men during peak hours.

Vanessa said...

I remember, if the bus was center-door pattern, the front was reserved for women and back for men(or general). And in rear and front door ones, the left column was for women.
The pattern is religiously followed without any displeasure shown by men. If they did it in Tamil, of course i could never know.