23 July 2008

Last Bus from Pune

The Pune Central ST Bus stand has a curious outlet: The Pune - Dadar Bus. These run every 15 minutes from 4 am to ... well 12 midnight or 12:30 am or may be even 1 am ... but nobody can tell! There is a motley crowd of students, businessmen, people who have to catch an early morning international flight out of Chhatrapati Shivaji International, and even one odd daily commuter who has got hopelessly delayed. The staff at the counter consists of a glorious figure of one. He is busy peering into a thick dog eared yellow register. Some novices try to barge into his cabin and ask "Volvo?!" to which he casts a disdainful eye and mumbles something, which to an old timer translates as "Asiad!" But then old timers do not ask such questions. What they ask is: "When is the next one?" To which he says: "Whenever the next one from Dadar arrives!" But the real pro at this game does not ask anything and does a mental arithmetic of the number of people it would take a Asiad to fill and if the length of the queue is good enough to convince the gigantic MSRTC to run the "last" bus to Dadar. Many times it does convince them. But sometimes the crowd peters out earlier than their patience and lo ... the next bus is 4 am, as per schedule! If you get trapped in a situation like this one you better know a few facts: a list of all trains from Pune to Mumbai after 12 midnight and the scope to barge into one unreserved, the cost of a all reserved Pune - Mumbai taxi, which is available next to the bus stand and of course the possibility of hiring a punter, driving a Indigo, who is going empty after dropping someone to Pune. Because after all the 4 am bus might be a little too late for you!
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