…which loosely translates as “I am part of the staff”. This is a common answer given by students in New Delhi (I am sure in other parts of the country as well) when asked for fares while travelling in bus or shared auto rickshaw. This phrase holds the same stature amongst students as our fundamental right to freedom of speech. Any violation of this right, i.e. extracting money in the name of fare from a student who has already claimed to be a staff of some privileged educational institution which the bus or auto rickshaw has to pass by, might lead to epic battles between the staff of the bus (operator) and rightful staff of the educational institution – students.
(For guys, the ‘staff hai’ also works at all the local roadside food stalls for free stuffs.)
During my college days, (usually) my canteen and movie budgets were funded by the savings made from the bus fares, especially at the end of month (and if you are a guy, then…it’s life-saver other than mom 🙂 ).
I pity those who have studied in really privileged colleges (no pun intended) where they didn’t have strong student council or union which could force the public transport of the city to bend rules to take care of the requirements of students. It is for such dedicated representatives that 40-50 per cent voting in the (Delhi) university election is reported and not for free movie tickets. Don’t know what happens to such promise fulfilling, budding politicians after they enter the mainstream. Such candidates should be given direct tickets for the Parliament or state assemblies instead of making them struggle as party workers in the name of getting proper training for the political career. Just like education, this political training only kills the innocent leader who only wants to serve people.
Apologies for digressing 🙂
This right of staff was most used in the now-thing-of-the-past, Blueline buses of Delhi. I happened to have studied in a college which allowed us to proudly avail the staff facility in a Blueline bus. God only knows how many conductors got sound beating from the college’s barey bhaiyas (tough guys) for harassing students by asking fares.
With Blueline buses being taken off the Delhi roads, it would be interesting to know what methods the students of the staff hai group of colleges, including mine, would resort to for a free ride. The fare money these days seem dearer given that the call-centre jobs no longer pay that well as they used to 7-8 years back.