Dear BEST Conductors of Bombay

You are very special. Never in news, never known to people except for those who deal with  you on a daily basis. Not as much known as the drivers. You do a pretty mundane job, thats what most people think.

Just generally collecting money and handing out tickets.going ‘tick tick tick’ with that ticket puncher and going ‘ting ting ting’ with that bell to tell the driver to go ahead. No rocket science involved. But honestly, you have an admirer in me. and let me tell you why.

You deal with millions of different kind of folks. Folks who curse you, who dont give you change, give you Rs.500 note for Rs.5 fare citing they have no change, folks who scold you for not attending to them directly and folks who refuse to move ahead despite you pleading them so that other passengers can enter from the back.

I really admire the way you deal with each of them. Of course, some of you are rude right back, but in my 6 years of travel with you, I dont think I have come across more than 5 of you who have been rude. 99% of you are extremely polite, extremely patient and extremely nice.

I can understand your frustration working in a crowded heated bus with no space to even punch out the tickets. Giving out change early in the morning just as you start your work, or carrying that 2 kg change filled bag and trying to find space so that you can scoop out that Re 1 coin to be given back as change. ITs better now na, earlier that 50 paise coins were driving you crazy na!

And then there are weird passengers who blame  you for not stopping a bus even if its so crowded that there is no place even to stand!

And then there are passengers who dont even buy the ticket and then blame you saying that you didnt ask them when the checker comes to check if everyone has bought the tickets.

There are some passengers who refuse to show you their pass despite of you asking them, and there are some passengers who want the senior citizen benefits but refuse to show their id cards to you when you ask for them.

You have to be extremely careful with lady passengers ensuring you dont touch them, and you have to be extremely careful that the male passengers dont touch the ladies. I have seen one of you asking a male passenger to get down when a female complained to you, you handled him so effectively I was impressed.

Midst all the crowd and the horrible  heat/rain you also do duty in unearthly timings like 4 in the morning. You have to guide the driver at every stop, remembering to ring the bell, once people get in, plead people to move forward, keep collecting money and dispensing tickets, and also support the driver come what may under any circumstances. You guys actually lead a busy life na?
Unfortunately, you are not praised for any of your duties. No one seems to appreciate the fact that you stand for over 8 hours a day in the bus, dispensing tickets, carrying the load of heavy change in your shoulders, accounting for every penny literally, and yet have to be polite to folks who can be rude to you, have to ensure kids get off at designated stops, you meet people like me who ask you to tell them when their stop comes and you remember to do that as well. Some of you remember that R and I travel for Rs. 11 everyday, you give us a bright good morning and a super bye when we leave. You even take out time to exchange a few words with us at times.

I really admire you folks. No one may have told you this earlier, but I think you guys are totally superb.

Thank you for being there for Bombay

Always a fan


One Trivia – Conductors in Bombay are often addressed as ‘Master’ Does anyone know why?


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45 Responses to Dear BEST Conductors of Bombay

  1. It is wonderful you write these letters RM. My only sadness is that they may never get to read these. have you ever told them all this? I think it will make their day, week and life 🙂

  2. sjscribbles says:

    RM, SO glad you are back in full form 🙂 Hope your cold vanishes…

    Missed you !

    Your letter’s rock – just as usual 🙂

  3. garima says:

    3 cheers for Mumbai Best Bus conductors,hip hip hurray 🙂
    And applause to RM too for writting this beautiful piece 🙂

  4. R’s Mom, I couldnt agree more ! Many years ago, when my daughter was younger, we travelled on a daily basis to parts of Andheri East, and one day , the daughter had a sprained knee, knee bandages, and was limping holding on to me. We couldnt find an rick,and soon our normal BEST bus came. I was trying to help my daughter up , worried about holding the bus up, and the conductor, who had seen us everyday, lent a hand , saying, “Bai, bus tumhala ghetlashivaye sutaychi nahi. Halu Halu chadhaa” (Lady, the bus wont leave without you. Take your time getting in…). This was followed by an enquiry as to what had happened to the little girls knee etc.

    Can you imagine this in a crowded, main east-west busroute in office hours ?

  5. Amit says:

    It has been such a long time since I sat in one of those DTC buses. In fact I haven’t tried the new green and red ones at all.
    You are too positive because you can even think about all this. 🙂 Most of us don’t even care.

  6. Ghata says:

    It is so swet that you are writing all these letters. Most of us might feel that way about people, but don’t acknowledge it. Make sure you tell the “Master” in your bus that you wrote about them and that many many people like you salue them in their hearts everyday!

  7. chaitalichari says:

    They mite not read this letters RM, but ur simple gesture of gratitude like as u say Thanks to them, can make their day 🙂

  8. Pepper says:

    They are called Master? Good to learn something new 😀
    Anyway, I am sorry. I have had extremely bitter memories of Bombay bus conductors. I had started going to school by BEST buses (on my own!), at the age of 10. This was back in 1996. I used BEST buses for about 10 years after that. And I have only painful memories of dealing with conductors. Such painful memories, that I don’t even want to go back to them. They were a child’s nightmare. I can probably share my horror stories with you someday. So I might not be able to share your appreciation for them at this point.

    PS – I haven’t used buses in Mumbai in about 5-6 years now. From what I see in your post, things seemed to have changed. If that is the case, I am glad.

    • R's Mom says:

      oh least the old timers definitely call out to them as ‘master’

      so so sorry to hear about you not having positive experiences with them 😦 it just makes me feel bad for you! big hugs okie?

      Well, may be you can take a bus to my area next time we meet eh?

  9. Ashwathy says:

    I have often wondered how on earth they manage to keep track of new people in such crowded buses and make sure everyone buys a ticket! It’s baffling! 😯

  10. Smita says:

    hmmmm I have met quite a few characters myself but I agree with you. The conductors are Mostly nice people who are not thanked enough for their efforts.

    I have never told you about the BEST driver we used to encounter at cuffee parade na? Well we were a bunch of girl who used to leave sharp 6 in the evening. The bus driver of the bus at that time started recognising us and wud stop the bus even if we were late and were running to catch the bus (i.e. halting at a place where there is no stop). We girls used to call him Kanahiya because all of us would be crowding the head of the bus and this guy used to play radio at high volume and enjoying the attention he used to get from us for being so helpful….it was fun 😀

  11. ashreyamom says:

    what RM.. u saw munna bhai movie and in full spree in thanking everyone.. ?? i loved the letter.. i know i should be thanking people who help me in running everyday smoothly, but i have never thought of thanking anyone for it.. 🙂

  12. deepM says:

    I just asked my one of my friend why Conductors called as a “Master”. He told me that Dada kondake’s(Famous Marathi actor) has introduced this word in one his movie since then its become very famous. So “Babnya” is for driver and “Master” is for conductor became widely famous in Maharashtra. 🙂

  13. meenamenon says:

    Maybe you should find a way that it atleast reaches their depot office.. maybe drop it to somebody there. Am sure they will really fella ppreciated… its one those jobs for which nobody really ever thanks them!

  14. aparna says:

    A good tribute to all conductors!

  15. Smitha says:

    They must be the most unappreciated of people, isn’t it? We take them for granted and forget that they are on their feet the whole day, in stifling heat, crushing crowds, managing all this. You are such a compassionate person, RM! Hugs!

    And yes, it would be great if they got to read all this.

  16. telugumom says:

    Very nice post 🙂

  17. sandhya says:

    Master does not mean what it means in English. Master is in marathi- the T is pronounced softly like the french/ italian T in pasta. Master in marathi means teacher- it is a throwback to the kind of bags that rural teachers would carry- the type that is coming back in the form of ‘cool’ sling bags. The type that are often associated with the khadi wearing journalist types.

    Wonderful how words evolve, isn’t it? How the meanings and connotations change over time and geography?

  18. I wonder If I can do anything to be like them so you can praise me also this much 🙂

    master maybe because they are the master of the bus.. stop it where he wants ..

  19. anisnest says:

    hey RM -how are you feeling now? getting out of the cold? take care yaar..
    now you should start a fan club for the BEST bus drivers and conductors.. If anyone asks me about Mumbai now I can proudly tell them that I know about BEST bus service, metro rails and their crowds, borivalli station, rick wallas.. no one will believe that I have never been to Mumbai.. you made me live there virtually.. 🙂 🙂

  20. Loved this post too, RM. 🙂 I echo what Kismi says – I am sure they will be extremely happy if you tell them all you have to say about them. It will definitely make their day! 🙂

    The life of a bus conductor is hard, indeed. I never took the time to really think about it. 😦

    I never knew that bus conductors in Mumbai are called ‘Master’. Got to learn something new today!

  21. How do you observe all these RM, hats off to you for your amazing observing power 🙂

  22. Pingback: The Day I Shouted | R's Mom

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