This is my first post to the blog, and every new beginning starts with Ganesha.
Ganeshotsav is one of the biggest and main festivals for Maharashtrian, especially for us (Konkani). Last year, we (my wife and I) have decided to visit our hometown i.e. Devgad during Ganeshotsav at least two days before so that we can take part in Ganpati Decoration as well. As we are living in Kolkata traveling to Mumbai was not a concern but the only concern was traveling from Mumbai to Devgad (Konkan). Due to Ganeshotsav, all the medium of travel is overbooked. Each year Railways start special extra trains but getting a reservation there, is always a challenge and all the seats get filled within few hours of ticket counter gets open. The same case is with Road transport whether it is a Private Transport or Public (Govt.) owned MSTC Buses (even after arranging extra buses) they have more than 100% booking.
We came to know that during Ganeshotsav many Political Parties arranges Buses for various destinations in Konkan and we can get tickets in them. So the tickets were booked and we were all set to travel from Kolkata to Mumbai and then Devgad. Next day after reaching Mumbai we have packed our bags and went to Bhandup from where the buses will leave and as soon as I reached the Political Party office I saw 4-5 MSTC Red Buses (yes the Lal Dabba (Red Box as called by local)) and not even the Asiad buses. It was one of the nightmares as travelling in MSRTC Red Bus is just like riding Roller Coaster as the buses are not well maintained, seats are not comfortable and finally the drivers as they don’t drive buses they fly them. I was trying to overcome all this stuff and another surprise was waiting for me. We were allocated the second last seats (two seats behind the wheel) so I made my mind that this trip will be going to be a trip which I and my body will remember for a long time.
Our excitement became half and with the half heart, we went inside the bus; took the seat. Our journey started on time and the ride was smooth as we were still in the Mumbai Highway and I know once we leave Mumbai our roller coaster ride will start as the condition of the roads (post-monsoon) are not good in villages. With the cool breeze and smooth ride so far, I didn’t know when I slept and when I woke up the bus was in Pen. This was quite surprising and we were around 70 Km away from Mumbai and it didn’t interrupt my sleep. What I noticed was the roads were smooth but the Driver was not at all driving fast or trying to fly which was my perception earlier instead of that he was driving with carefully, no overtakes, no unnecessary horns in the narrow roads of Konkan.
After dinner, it started raining to make the conditions worst and I was awake and alert observing Driver as he was still driving efficiently and the conductor giving him a nice company in the driver’s cabin. Lights were switched off and slept again. At 4 am when I woke up again I found the bus was standing near a small hotel and it still raining outside. I went outside to stretch and to have a cup of tea. During this, I came to know that we are running ahead of scheduled time and will reach Devgad in 2 hours (till 6 AM whereas we were expected till 7 AM).
At 6 AM, we were at Devgad and we were the last one to off-board the bus while off-board we thanked the driver and conductor for our journey. A Journey that changed my perception towards MSRTC…
Later, I came to know that the Driver and Conductor had come from Nashik (200 KM away from Mumbai) and drove for the complete night to make sure that the passenger reaches their destination safely.
I know many would have a bad experience with ST but for me they actually made their tag line true “ST CHA PRAVAS SUKHACHA PRAVAS” (ST travel is happy travel).