The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Pet peeves in private buses

The private blue buses are the oldest surviving private bus fleet of the city. They are the largest in number among all types of buses plying, offer the most basic facility and charge the cheapest fare. Thus they can easily be called the lifeline of Kolkata. Naturally, along with the dependence of lakhs of people for their commute, comes some pet peeves. Here's a look at some of them.

"Kawtobar ticket katbo?” ("How many times do you want me to buy ticket?")

To me, this one is the most amusing! This is what a passenger says to the conductor. No matter you bought your ticket without delay, the conductor can come back to you and ask you to buy the ticket- sometimes even within a span of two minutes! Don't get surprised as this is part of life in a bus. This is all pervasive. Curiously, this memory lapse of the conductor is prevalent only in selling tickets and not in any other activity. For example he will remember to return you the change of Rs 100 you handed him to buy a Rs 6 ticket. This peculiar short term memory loss of bus conductors does merit a serious study.

“Abar signal khelo” ("He deliberately drove slow to stop at the signal")

This mostly comes with an abuse prefixed of which the intensity depends on how irritated the commuter is. A section of passengers monitor how timely the driver is driving the bus and this annoyed remark comes from them. Well, as I’ve seen, sometimes (may be most of the times) this is true but they aren’t always right. It’s a common trait of a large section of drivers to drive slow so that they can stop at more signals and load the bus with more and more passengers at the cost of passenger convenience and delayed trips. So the commuters' irritation for waste of time on the trip is understandable. Now, to be fair to the drivers, sometimes they have to drive slow because of traffic ahead but the monitoring passengers often overlook it. A solution to this could be incentivizing the driver and the conductor for timeliness of completed trips.

“Seat khali” ("The bus has a lot of vacant seats")

This is often the biggest bluff of the conductor aiming at quickly filling the bus with passengers. So, it's actually a competitive tactic. Often at busy junctions, a number of buses stop around the same time and the conductor uses this trick to grab more passengers than the competing buses. In reality, most of the times, the bus hardly has empty seats and the poor passengers rushing in to grab the seats often discover that after boarding the bus. What follows from passengers is an easy guess.

Ending on a lighter note, related to the same subject.

"Aaste, ladies. Pete bachcha.” ("Please stop and let the pregnant lady get down")

The familiar alert of a conductor to the passengers trying to hop onto a bus, which he does to ensure the safe alight of a pregnant lady. But sometimes the conductor can be wrong in reading the stomach of the lady, leading to great embarrassment and annoyance of the lady with a pronounced midsection. I came across the post of a young lady on an interactive website, who vent her anger on the conductor who misread her generous waistline.

#Kolkata #KolkataBuses #Commute #Transport #PublicTransport

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