Friday, May 26, 2006

Good, better, BEST?

It's funny how a mention of Mumbai is incomplete without the local railway, and the sundry trials and tribulations (and occasional epiphanies) of traveling the Virar Local and the Dombivli Fast, while no one spares a thought for the old faithful trundler, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) buses.

For somebody who's from a city where anything greater than 10km is a long distance (this city), taking a train was more like an afterthought, something you did once or twice a year. Like most other Indian cities, public transport typically meant buses and I used them a lot (which is why I know this). When I came to Mumbai 3 years ago, it was, therefore, a little disorienting when I'd ask people whether they travelled by bus, and they'd either give me blank stares or think I'm a looney and split their sides laughing.

That was till I started taking the buses myself, and I have to confess, I love it. I don't take them to get to work - honestly, they do take a lot of time. But on weekends, when I really want to unwind and see the city, I don't mind taking a bus. The buses are empty, they're fast enough to get a good breeze going, but not fast enough that you'll miss the sights and sounds, and they take you through parts of the city you'd normally miss if you were taking a cab or the train.

I love Bombay, but there are times when I wish I was in a city just a little less hectic, where things move at a pace that'll let me look around. I guess everybody has their own little escape chute when they need to slow down and look around... and buses are my private escape chute. If you'ven't tried it yet, hop on.

(Inspired by this post, especially the lines -"The sight of a large number of people moving with a collective sense of purpose - deftly avoiding the roadside hawkers, crossing the narrow lane, running on the platform, penetrating the layer of “macho” dudes who hog the entry points of the train - to keep up their destiny with the “Virar fast” is remarkable." Thanks Ravi)


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