The BEST jugaad

Sometimes in the midst of trying to balance work, home, commuting, blogging, reading, indeed living, I am brought to a screeching halt by something very ordinary, something very simple. Something that always makes me pause and think about the details that I often miss, the little bits of creativity around us, and the gentler and hidden things we overlook.  Getting a bus pass made was one such incident 🙂

I commute to work by Mumbai’s BEST buses. For the last 2 years or so, I have found it convenient to get a monthly or quarterly bus pass made, which till about a year back, had been outsourced by the BEST to a third-party. But due to reported discrepancies in collections as well as non-functioning of the smart card bus pass, the contract with the third-party was abruptly terminated. A press release from the BEST stated that they would be issuing the bus passes themselves.

So once the announcement appeared in the newspapers regarding the issuing of smart card bus passes, off I went to the nearest bus depot, which happened to be BEST’s Deonar Bus Depot. The security guard at the gate helpfully pointed me towards the right direction or where the bus passes were being issued from. Soon I found myself looking at this:

I actually stood amazed for some time appreciating the creativity and ingenuity of the BEST to issue the smart card bus passes without making any drastic changes to their existing office set up to deal with commuter hordes. They couldn’t have done it any other way as I’m pretty sure that the budget would not have stretched that far to accommodate for separate cabins or space for issuing the passes. And this is how they did it:

Two ground floor windows opening into the Deonar Bus Depot compound have been converted into counters for issuing bus passes. A couple of makeshift wooden steps have been pushed against the walls below the windows bringing the customer face to face with the person issuing the Smart Card bus passes.

One of the windows has also become a make shift studio for taking the customer’s photographs for the smart card bus passes (see the enclosed “booth” on the right in the photograph above). Thick tarpaulin curtains make up the walls of the studio. The webcam is tied to the window grill with the help of a rope (see photo on the left), while a BEST official operates the computer from inside. As the customer faces the webcam, a disembodied voice from inside the room gives instructions to look up or down or left or right. And then a request to pay the required amount of money, which is to be handed through the bars. Transaction completed, the customer is given a receipt and asked to collect the smart card bus pass in the next counter. The whole process takes about 5-10 minutes from start to finish.

I love jugaad, which in colloquial Hindi, means an innovative fix or a simple work-around, solution. I particularly love jugaad which looks at solutions so creatively as in this case. I love jugaad that gives a refreshingly new perspective and approach to life itself. And I love jugaad that stops me from complaining about facilities and quality of life !

Now tell me, don’t you love jugaad too? I would love to hear from you examples of jugaad that you have come across 🙂

29 thoughts on “The BEST jugaad

  1. Ha ha ha…. Simply superb… Wonder why dnt they use this innovative dimag in solving civic problems… They should hire out this amazing engineering dimag to every other civic body… 🙂


  2. Lovely background designed, Sudhagee. Snowflakes give awesome vibes of the festive season.

    When it comes to jugaad, the main reason for this is the government. Everytime the govt has failed to deliver what it promises (which is quite often), some enterprising people ensure they somehow plug the gap for the betterment of society. I’ve always believed BEST is one such enterprise. Though they are a public sector unit, they work to the best of their potential as a private one; very awe inspiring! Thanks for posting this article. Just goes to show to so many people how smart, quick & efficient BEST actually is… 🙂


    1. Thank you, Vishal. The snowflakes is not my creation though, wordpress does it automatically for its blogs during this season.

      The BEST runs the most efficient public transport system in the country, in my opinion, and against all odds too. 🙂


  3. I think you might have heard of jugaaad, which is a mode of transport in some parts of UP — a motorised contraption on wheels that is rigged from a variety of automobiles. But what the heck! it ferries people around doesn’t it? 😀


  4. haha. I almost thought first, one was where bribes are given ‘behind the curtain’ if not under the table! Thank God it was only a ‘studio’! 🙂


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