rupee

of bangalore and shameless bus conductors

There’s something really scary about the state of public transport in Bangalore. The bus conductors are also totally evil.

The reason this is unnerving is because Bangalore offers two modes of public transport to the common man – autorickshaws, and buses. While autorickshaw drivers are totally evil down to the bottom of their soul, I overlook this since this is the same in almost every Indian city. Maybe there’s an “Autowallahs and Satan” association panning Delhi, Bangalore and (reportedly) Chennai — with it’s primary mission to cheat and loot every customer till there’s none left. And it’s slowly invading Mumbai too, a city once known for the honest, professional auto-drivers who paid you back even the 50 paisa.

But I digress. This post is about bus conductors, who, in my eyes have always been the bastion of the strong-minded, hard-working but underpaid class that keeps the city running. Conductors in Delhi (DTC only, Bluelines are run by gremlins and don’t count) and Mumbai (BEST) are known for their no-nonsense attitude; but Bangalore busmen(and women — they have female conductors here) seem to weave a rather different tale. Not only are they spineless and corrupt, they try to assert their hallowed virtues onto the passengers as well. Here’s one of my many accounts with conductors on Bangalore buses:

Me: 1 ticket, Binnamangala please. (Hand him a ten rupee note, the ticket is for four rupees)
Him: (Takes note, returns six rupees, looks around)
Me: Excuse me, Ticket?
Him: makes face, offers me a one rupee coin
Me: Screw you! I don’t want your money, I want my ticket!
Him: Gives me an old, used six rupee ticket.
Me: What the….
Him: (Finally gives me the ticket I paid for.)

So what’s it with Bangalore that makes its conductors so evil? Considering the weather, the quality of life, the nature of the passengers; Bangalore conductors have a much better time than their Delhi and Mumbai counterparts. Maybe they’re paid really less salaries? I doubt it. Maybe they’re ex-auto drivers? Maybe. But what I believe is the real reason is the percentage of laptop-carrying, Nike-wearing bus passengers who give a damn for these trivial transactional details and would rather spend their precious time worrying about more important things.

|

Four rupees a kilo

A mostly fictitious story I wrote on a train journey from Delhi to Calcutta in 2002. The most difficult part of this story was to decipher the illegible scrawls I had made on the train and to write out a final version of the story
The scenery scrolled past, as I sat there, lost in my thoughts, looking out, admiring the horizon. I was traveling alone this time and my train was chugging through the lands of Uttar Pradesh, headed towards Calcutta.

| |

barred ista

I was a big admirer of the Barista coffee chain. When it opened, I became a huge fan of it's themed decor, clever copy for it's ads, and it's range of coffee concoctions. Barista was also probably the first restaurant chain in India to introduce the "laid back" approach - allow your customers to hang around your joint, spend time playing scrabble on the board you provided, or strumming the guitar that's lying at the corner of every one of your stores. While this might seem to make little business sense, this became the chain's primary customer-drawing points. In the hustle bustle of this hectic world, it was nice to find a place to let your hair down and treat yourself to a walnut brownie dipped in extra chocolate.

| |

clear danger

During the pesticide-in-your-drink fiasco, I was tempted to try the DS group's recently launched Catch Clear brand of flavoured water. The promos and packaging were not too shabby, so I thought it was worth spending one and a half times the amount I'd spend on a Coke.

And it was quite nice. Not worth 15 rupees, but still nice. It wasn't too fizzy - just the right amount of effervesence. The taste was a little like medicine, but the flavour made up for it. And the best part of them all: The calorie chart! It said: Zero Calories!! So here was my perfect drink- cold, fizzy, refreshing, no caffeine, and absolutely, zero, calories.

| |