Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BEST... Or is it?

The first time I landed in Mumbai, my friend said "We will go by BEST bus". The moment I saw the bus, I said "Good one bro! :)". He replied, "Dude! That was not supposed to be a joke". Oh!

This one falls under the category of 'unintenionally funny'. You think of some cool thing, give it an awesome name but in the end it falls flat, even funny. Mumbai's BEST, is one classic example. I don't blame them either. When you gotta manage such a huge city, you tend to miss out somewhere. Some aspect, some area, some system, some random thing doesn't get the attention and it stays a part of prestigious history. Now lets take a look at why BEST buses are not the best (not even close :P)

First impression... was a worst impression. Even my school bus sports better style damn it. Painted red, absolutely cuboidal, looking like straight out of a museum...! When rest of India is going for low floor, air suspension, ergonomic seats, bright colors, our friends at Mumbai never felt the need for all those. I guess these buses are a part of their tradition. You might catch an enthusiastic guide say someday, "You see the Taj, it is older than the Gateway of India. You see that bus, it is older than the Taj" :D

I lost myself in the beauty of the bus as it crossed me. Suddenly I realized I had a bus to catch and... WTF! There is no route number at the back! Are we supposed to randomly run behind buses, overtake them, check the route, and then climb onto them? Are Mumbaikars such good athletes? Or is this some sort of practical joke? Just imagine how it will feel if you finally overtake a bus, but its not the one you want and the driver grins at you and says, "Gotcha!" When I enquired about it further an effervescent college kid said, "The route number is there on the left side of the bus". So what dude, I cannot overtake the bus from the left. Traffic rules don't permit it you know. :)

Somehow I got onto a bus and one look inside told me that the bus might actually be older than the Taj. When I purchase my ticket comes the next surprise. Everything on the ticket is printed in Hindi, even the numbers! Beleive me when I say its been 17 months in Mumbai and I still have trouble deciphering numbers in Hindi. I've used the word decipher in the previous sentence intentionally. I suggest carrying a number catalogue with you to help you out. But there was more. The price printed on my ticker was Rs. 6.86. Seriously, six rupees eighty six paise. Do you guys really live in prehistoric era? Thankfully there was no 'Please tender exact change' board put up in the bus :)

Not that Mumbai is otherwise perfect or for that matter any city is perfect. They all have lots of scope for improvement. But what got me going was the name given to these buses, BEST. Although these buses go a long long way everyday, they still have to go a long way before they can become what they are called, BEST.

Cheers  :)

P.S - BEST stands for Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport!