Archive for the ‘Trains and Buses’ Category

I Style! – The BEST Man

I spotted Neil Dantas at The Wall Project and I just had to stop him to tell him just how I Style! he was!

i am the BEST

i am the BEST

Isn’t his tee-shirt absolutely fab? It’s Bambaiyya in a way that nothing else starts to match.For the uninitiated, BEST, an acronym for Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport, runs the Mumbai bus system. Every bus carries the BEST logo in Hindi, in white inside an oval white patch, painted on the side of the bright red bus. It’s one of Mumbai’s most recognizable logos.

The BEST man's tee-shirt

The BEST man's tee-shirt

The good news is that Neil is himself a designer and retails his creations from his website. Do drop into his place if you’d like to carry forward his style. Or as I’d like to call it, Neil’s I Style!

Update: The full form of BEST has been corrected (thank you, Peter!). Much apologies for the error; I can only blame it on the 4a.m. posting.

The Bandra-Worli Sealink Opening

The much awaited Bandra-Worli sealink opened yesterday. In the unlikely case that you don’t know what I’m talking about (in which case, what are you doing reading this post?), this is a bridge built across one of the bays between the islands that comprise Mumbai. It connects Bandra reclamation to Worli seaface and has been predicted as the solution to easing up the daily traffic snarls from the western suburbs to town.

The view from the Bandra Reclamation road

The sealink has been a long time in the making, having faced some setbacks and delays as well. It has been a part of the grand plan for Mumbai for so long that it has almost made a mark in local lingo by now (Yeah, I’ll get a promotion by the time that damn sealink gets made, maybe then I’ll be able to afford a car too!).


Most Mumbaikers have seen its grow, inch by agonizing inch on the horizon, from each direction. Just last year, I looked out at the impressive seaview from the window of a friend whose Mahim flat faces the then under-construction sealink and said,

Whatever is taking them that long??!! There’s just another inch to go!

After much fanfare, the sealink was inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi last morning and thrown open to the general public at 7 a.m. There will be a Rs.50 toll to traverse the sealink but that becomes functional only as of next Monday. So for the next few days, you can expect most Mumbaikers to derive full paisa vasool rides, riding Mumbai’s first ever sealink.

Quite fortunately (for me) I had an appointment in town that same morning. Fortunate I say because I (like many suburbanites) detest the painful commute into town, even less by road. What a stroke of luck to have a reason to go into town on the very day the sealink was inaugurated!


So I nagged dad into turning off into Bandra reclamation, shushing his incessant doomsday prophesies that the sealink would only add to commute time and what was so great about that damn bridge anyway, it’s taken long enough to come up and blocked Mumbai’s strained resources as it is.

In a few minutes, I was ready to jump out of the car and dive for cover as we ran smack-dab into the middle of the kind of traffic that makes road-rage seem like a pardonable offense, not punishable by law. I think every Western suburbanite must have been on that road to Worli today, whether or not they wanted to go to town!!!


I actually saw a few cars take U-turns and head back out, presumably to get to their destinations, the old-fashioned Mumbai way.

But as we inched forward and the high beams of the sealink came into view, my spirits surged and even my father ceased his complaining and grudgingly took out his own phone to take a picture.


We passed an impressive-looking toll-naka. Oh okay, I know there’s nothing impressive about a toll-naka, I’ve seen the one at Mankhurd and what about that huge one leading out to Mumbai-Pune expressway that I passed, not three days ago?



It still was a momentous occasion, for we were on the brink of breaking new ground. As we passed, I’m rather afraid to say that the insofar well-laned traffic just sort of melded into itself and became one sea of cars going helter-skelter. The road curves a bit before it touches the sealink and the lanes just sort of get lost in each other. The authorities are just going to have to do something about that if they don’t want to face choke-ups every morning just before the Bandra end of the sealink.

Very near the sea, I saw a flock of crows flying around frantically and wondered aloud,

Why are there so many birds around? What are they so agitated about?


Dad said that perhaps there was an colony of nests in that place which had so far been pretty secluded and undisturbed. Displacement was a sobering thought to start the trip on, but well needs must.

Once we actually got closer and closer to the sealink, I could feel the anticipation electric in the air. Cars slowing down, audible gasps, people zooming their camera lenses and phones, excitement was rife.


I can’t even begin to describe what the journey was like. I am sure, in a short few days I’ll become as accustomed to it as the regular train and road commute. But today, this first trip was special. It was the realization of the great Mumbai dream. We were riding over water. All my hitherto unvoiced fears that the bridge would give way were blown away in the cool breeze. The bridge is rock-solid (not at all like Lakshman Jhula, ma, you can stop worrying, it won’t sway in the wind) and it would otherwise feel just like riding on a concrete road, except there’s the sea on both sides.



What an odd feeling to turn to one’s left and see Mumbai, the city, the familiar buildings and roads on the horizon but on the wrong side and from so far away!

I saw a media van pass in the opposite direction on the clear Worli-to-Bandra lane, with a journalist standing out of one of the windows holding a mike, and a cameraman standing out of the opposite side shooting her. It was a funny sight and I’m only sorry I didn’t have a chance to shoot it.

The image below shows the proud and cheering workers who were lined up to watch the first few travellers on the sealink. What a moment of glory it would have been for them!


The couple in the Qualis next to mine were carrying balloons and traversed the entire length of the sealink with their balloons held aloft and flying out of the windows. Viva, the spirit of Mumbai!


We touched terra firma again at the Worli seaface end. I’m rather afraid this means the end of those long, wonderful soujourns ending in masala milk and sandwich. With the incoming and outbound traffic to the sealink, the seaface is bound to become thoroughfare and lose the charm it has.

We’re losing a few lovely spots and the traffic problem may not really be solved. But the experience of riding over the sea is something every Mumbaiker should have. This link has been far too long in coming. In the larger picture, perhaps easier access will level out some of the differences of Mumbai’s very own caste system?

I can’t tell just yet. My head is still spinning with the adrenalin rush of yesterday morning. I really feel like I’ve been part of a grand day in Mumbai’s history, almost like the fall of the Berlin wall. It is a big thing for this city and as a Mumbaiker, I feel really proud.

I Style! – A Cat Lands On Her Feet

These shoes belong to a media professional. She was hurrying to work two steps ahead of me on the railway bridge (if you don’t recognise the thread on the floor, you ain’t a true Mumbaiker!). But she stopped long enough to let me take a photograph.


Granted the lace-ups on the jeans are probably a little 80s hungover but those shoes in my mind, make up for it. Nothing says “CATTITUDE!” like animal prints, especially since not too many people carry these off well. This lady certainly did.

Leopard print block heels (printed even on the heels) peeking from under an otherwise demure outfit of white shirt and jeans….are definitely high on I Style!

Monorail Coming to You

If government honchos are to be trusted, Mumbai will indeed become the first city in India to have a monorail. However I am a little sceptical of the 2010 start date for the service.

The routes are

The estimated cost of the project, proposed on four separate routes is Rs 1800 crore. The first route covering 25 km is Malabar Hill- Gopalrao Deshmukh Marg-Haji Ali-Keshavrao Khade Marg-Jacob Circle-Sane Guruji Marg- S S Rao Marg-Dattaram Lad Marg-GD Ambedkar Marg-Wadala Marg-Wadala Truck Terminus-Antop Hill-Sion Hospital-Dharavi- Bandra Kurla Complex.

The second route is of 10 km is Chembur-Mahul-Gidwani Marg-Gowandi-Chembur. The Lokhandwala Complex-Oshiwara- Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road-Kanjur Marg (10 km) is the third route and Thane-Kalyan-Bhiwandi is fourth route (25 km).

“Monorail is very ideal for Mumbai’s congested areas as it will run on elevated tracks and the space consumed is just 8 to 10 km,” a senior transport planner from MMRDA, K Vijaya Lakshmi said. [link]

The capacity of the Monorail is more than 500 with four coaches attached and more than 700 with six coaches attached to it, she said.

A lot of planning and design needs to be done so that the monorail do not create localised problems. Points of entry, exit, commercial activities leading to them, etc will be the problem areas affecting the users once the monorail is launched.

Hopefully we will see stellar results.

What are your opinions on the routes though? Hopefully the routes will intersect with the train lines on W. Rly and C. Rly. Only then will it become a comprehensive mass transit network. Otherwise it will be more of the same chaos.

The Dabba Roster

I remain a Mumbai train loyalist. Not only is the Mumbai Metropolitan Railway, the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B in Mumbai, it also gives you a slice of what I think of as ‘the real Mumbai life’. Frantic students cramming in seat-huddles tell you that the board examinations are around the corner. A bling-ey group chatters away about the wedding they’re off to in the matrimony season. Office-goers – peons, sales executives, doctors, journalists run shoulders (okay, bodies) in the nau-dabbon-ki-jalad-lowkulll.


And speaking of dabbas, how about the other dabbas? The ones carrying piping hot nourishment, lovingly made by mothers and wives and cooks across the city and delivered Just In Time for lunch to their hungry patrons? To the uninitiated, the dabbawallas are a network of deliverymen who carry lunchboxes from homes to offices and back using a never-fail above-world-class system of colour coding. An Ivy League US b-school used them as a case study and the concept has picked up much visibility since then.

Toto, I don’t think we are in Mumbai anymore!

As all my friends move into matrimony and kid-bearing and generally ‘settling down’, they acquire the other trappings of yuppies – investments! One of my friends thinks that real estate is the best option. So I accompanied her on a ‘window-shopping’ spree, scouting the city for the perfect place of land that she could call her own.

We ended up at Vasai Road. Yes, it has a station of its own on the Western line. What’s more, with the number of overhead bridges with twists and turns and forks, I thought we might have landed up in some future version of Mumbai without the crowds.



A survival guide to Mumbai trains

This post actually started out as a draft for the ‘7 series’ on Mumbai Metroblogging. It didn’t make the deadline then. Considering that Mumbai trains are in the news again, I think it is worth an airing anyway.

I’m relying on the fact that most of us in this city, live on little oases or islands of our own madness and know very little about the rest of the place. And for outsiders, the beehive is positively mind-boggling anyway. So here’s a special edition of how-to-survive Mumbai by a thoroughbred Mumbaiker.


I always think of the railway network as the central nervous system of this city. It is fairly impossible to get lost in this city. The minute you find yourself out of sorts, you just make your way to the nearest railway station and voila! You’re back on the Mumbai lifeline.

Boycott Local Trains for a Day

For the millions who travel by local trains everyday, its an adventure. However so ingrained is the local train into the psyche of the Bombayite that we just take what is dished out as granted and move on. However, citizens from Virar to Borivili have had enough and are taking a new route to get their issues addressed.

Commuters between Virar and Borivli are chalking out alternative plans to reach their workplace on Monday as train services in the section is likely to be disrupted owing to a protest by the Democratic Youth Federation of India.

The youth wing of the CPM has called a rail protest on December 10, which is incidentally the Human Rights Day, to protest against the plight of train commuters on the Virar belt. The agitators, including various residential associations, will request commuters not to board trains on the Western Railway section between 6 am to 6 pm.

The agitators are demanding better frequency of trains to Virar, that is, instead of a 15-minute gap, there should be a Virar train every five minutes. [link]

In light of the Human Rights Day, this week is packed with such activities. Its “Chakka Jaam” today and “Batti Bandh” on Dec 15.

More power to the people.

Running late

You know what it’s like to wake up in the morning to a blaring alarm and you wonder what sort of perversion in the human mind permitted the invention of such a torturous experience? Till you remember that you set the alarm.

You know what it’s like to bounce out of bed in feigned energy in an attempt to ‘kickstart’ the day and start your yoga to muscles so stiff, they may as well wrap you in plasti-shield and hang you up to display in the butchers’ market?

You know what it’s like to run out of your bath and discover you are 5 minutes late? 5 minutes!! Do you know what 5 minutes look like? I’ll tell you….

Magical new cure for AIDS

I’m curious. Is this really possible? While I have great respect for alternative medicine, as far as I know, we don’t have a real cure for AIDS as yet. What do you know…I just stumbled onto the latest promise to come out of the Island of Dreams!

The board says,

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