Saturday, April 21, 2007
With BEST buses going on strike, commuting in Mumbai has gone from bad to worse! Not that I travel by apna BEST often, but the strike has affected the other modes of transportation too. Trains have become more crowded. The rickshaw / taxi wallahs have started acting pricey!
Yesterday (19/4/2007), I started my day happily by sending good morning sms to all my friends wishing all of them a Good Day. You gotta keep your mood cheered up in these days of terrible heat when you're embarking on a journey through Virar trains amidst sweat. I got a curt sms reply back from a friend and my bad day just began! Missed getting into two trains (my concentration having waivered) before I finally got into 9.18 am Dadar. I was already late and informed office too. Finally half an hour of suffocation and sweat later, I reached Andheri exhausted. I step out of the station for another shock! The BEST bus strike!!!
The roads were lined with people pleading with rickshaw drivers without any sympathy from them. Entire crowd which goes to SEEPZ and Saki Naka by BEST were on the road. The whole stretch looked as if some 'morcha' (public gathering) was in progress. Some rickshaw guys were taking several people at a time (charging them all separately), some were coolly driving off (probably wanting someone to bargain with them by offering big bucks!). Vultures, all !
I didn't relish the idea of jamming into an auto with strangers and half sitting on some guys lap! No way! Neither did I want to encourage malpractice of excess fare, so I waited. It was 10 am already. The heat had begun. And how I hate it! I was strolling aimlessly on the road, hoping some auto fellow would be kind enough. But the moment any rickshaw was sighted, people were pouncing on it like crazy! People wanted to hit the drivers coz all were frustrated in the sun without any mode of transport. I even saw an extra smart driver taking 'panga' with some people and public enjoying the 'tamasha'.
I called my colleague who advised me to wait for our second shift bank bus, which was expected by 10.45 am (the first one goes at 8.45 am)! Fair enough! But the sun was too much to bear, with me being more prone to tan and sunstroke! I went at our bus pick up point and waited with a hanky on my face to save myself from the sun! Few more office people gathered. I bought chilling Frooti from a nearby stall (having stood in the sun for 45 mins!) and felt better on sipping it. Finally bus arrived and we got in. Then I slept through the journey feeling drowsy with heat! Reached office at 11.30 am!!!
Evening we had decided that we had to leave by office bus only, no matter wat else we would end up loitering on the streets the whole night (coz by that time we got news that in the night even the autorickshawallas will also be going on strike. We have office buses at 5.45 pm (which is distant dream for Trade dept), 7.15 pm, 7.45 pm, 8.45 pm and last one at 9.30 pm for people going on Andheri side. My team was aiming at 7.45 pm or maximum 8.45 pm bus and we put our best team-effort and decided to keep some queries aside. So finally left office at 8.45 pm. The office bus was jammed coz the 7.45 pm bus hadn't turned up and no one wanted to take a risk on the road!
The next day ie today (20/4/2007) it wasn't that bad coz private buses had already come to the people's rescue. There were buses to SEEPZ, Marol and Saki Naka. I reached Andheri station at 9.10 am and tried asking some rickshaw drivers who were trying to act indifferent, but without any luck. Then I proceeded to check out some private buses when a autorickshaw fellow agreed to take me for a ride... I mean 'to my destination' :-) with lot of nakhras amd a condition of leaving me at a stop earlier than my destination. I had no option but to agree. Behind me popped a man asking me if he could accompany me till Marol. Seeing the situation, I agreed. But he started to get more of his friends, to which the driver rightly objected saying that he had agreed only for 'Ladies' (thats me!). And threathened if that guy got more people, he'll throw me out too! Finally a lot of grumbling later, I reached office though traffic was bad due to the commotion.
One more day of strike to go.... but tomorrow is Saturday and we will manage somehow..... Life is a struggle!