I’ve been living in Mumbai (Bombay then) since 1988. I practically grew up with this city. We’ve experienced a lot together. Right from the early days of colour tv, the riots, the bomb blast, the change of identity (from Bombay to Mumbai), the terrorist attack, winning the cricket world cu up until experiencing the metro and it goes on and on… the list never stops! Please excuse me, if I have missed out on some key moments. This city, my city, is filled with plethora of experiences worth reminiscing.
One such memory for me would be travelling in the iconic red buses of the B.E.S.T (Brihanmumbai electrical supply and transport). Sitting on the top deck of a double decker, fighting through the crowd only to grab the front seat atop, witnessing the gush of wind which hits your face as the bus twists and turns into the ‘gullys’ (small lanes) of Mumbai. The experience is quite exhilarating, I must say. But that was then!
Today the story is very different than what it used to be. A ticket that used to cost for Rs. 4/- for a 5km ride then. Today, costs around Rs. 10/- for the same distance. Not just the price, the traffic, the mindset of people boarding the BEST… everything has changed drastically. But one thing that really stands out from then and now is the comfort!
The ads all over the city states – for less road congestion travel by BEST. To be honest, I travel by rickshaw or by car in and around the city. It becomes far more seamless as far as travelling goes. But one day, I decided to travel a certain distance by BEST only to relish those memories and my word the travel did leave a scar.
Mumbai roads are known to be badly maintained. Nothing new for a Mumbaikar to be very honest. The roads which are smooth without any potholes are usually screwed by the local governing bodies only to follow a pattern and make those synonymous with Mumbai roads. Hold on to your imagination. Now. imagine travelling on these roads in a bus with absolutely no suspension. Let me describe, the tyres when go inside the pothole would spread more terror to the passengers than any other fidayen attacks by ISIS. The bus would shake as if it was some fruit and has been put inside a grinder and we are small toppings to suffer with it. By the time the journey finished, my back and bottoms were numb as a dead fish. Can’t imagine what it would be for someone traveling that frequently. Hope those calcium sandoz are keeping your bones intact. My personal experience, I would say it was a massage that had gone horrifically wrong.
So BEST, I know you all are in losses but I’m not surprised, really! Charging a premium and delivering nothing, why would anyone prefer you over rickshaw, taxi, uber or ola. Nostalgia? Memories? Convenience? I don’t think so! As far as my memories with you are concerned, I think I better bid them adieu!