Having lived in Mumbai for 4 years in the late nineties, I have traveled North to South and East to West by buses, going to various parts of the city. This time, however, I had the rare experience of taking the wrong bus, with a wrong ticket, and interacting with the Ticket Conductor (TC) on the BEST bus of Mumbai.
I was on my way to an appointment in Bandra – Linking Road and hopped on bus number 83, not realizing that this bus would take me to S V Road. I tried to explain to the conductor where I wanted to go, but obviously he did not understand, for reasons that will be more apparent later in this description. It was a relatively empty bus and I was content having a whole seat to myself and listening to the music off my phone. As the bus entered Bandra and got onto S V Road, I realized I had to get off the bus at some point. But I wasn’t sure when. Before I could even get off the bus the TC came in to check tickets. I showed him my ticket and he promptly informed me that i was traveling beyond my ticket and needed to get off the bus. I tried to argue a little, but in vain. I then had to get off the bus and was greeted by another TC.
I tried to tell the TC, yet again, that I had asked the conductor to give me a ticket to my destination and that obviously he did not understand. I also tried to play the “I am new to Mumbai” card, but none of it would fly with the two TCs who were adamant that I pay a fine. Then I also tried to play the “I was on the phone” card (which i was) and that’s probably why the conductor did not get where I really wanted to go. I really pissed the TC off with that comment because he immediately proceeded to lecture me on how “the public” is always either on the phone or listening to music or playing games and how the conductors are “fed up” with this behavior. I really wanted to laugh because I was so amused by this whole incident and the fact that me, of all people, who has lived and traveled in Mumbai, got a freakin fine for exceeding the limit of my ticket.
The other TC took some pity on me and convinced the TC to give me a lesser fine. So, there I was, on the corner of SV road, being cited for all of Rs. 44 (less than $1). Here below is evidence of my stupidity (mind you, I made sure to exhibit the “Dr” before my name in the ticket, just for kicks):
While i was being cited, a lady pulls up in a car and asks the TC if she can park near the sign (right next to us) that clearly stated, “DO NOT PARK HERE. THIS IS A BUS STOP”. Even I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this well dressed woman ask the most ridiculous question. The TC looked flabbergasted, and with great patience, explained to this woman what the sign stated and what it meant and that nobody, in their right minds, would ask if they could park there. Again, I was really having a good chuckle and commented to the TC on how silly people could be. Once again, my comment was followed by yet another lecture by the TC on how “Bombay is not same any more” and how “people just do what they want.” Of course, i took the opportunty to share my two cents and vent about how people in bombay just do what they like, and blah, blah, bah.
On that note, I got my citation, payed the RS. 44, and went on my merry way, this time in the right direction. To this day, I have a hearty giggle every time I think of this incident!