Saturday, December 3, 2016

Metro to mofussil

That's a picture of the entrance to the CMBT, taken when passing by on an overhead train track. The "M" in the abbreviation is "Mofussil". A word that I haven't heard used in English very often, but one that gained currency under the British East India Company. A word that I have encountered so often in Madras and Chennai that it could have been Tamizh - and yet, one that unsurprisingly has its origins in Urdu. 

Mofussil originally stood for those areas beyond the administrative ken of the Company, outside the realms of their headquarters in Madras, Bombay and Calcutta. Somewhere along the way, it gathered connotations of a hayseed provinciality, not compatible with the sophistication of the city. And yet, here is this facility, in the middle of the city, calling itself the "Mofussil" Bus Terminus. 

No, it is not as if the city expanded to swallow up a bus terminus that was once outside its boundaries. The simpler explanation is that this is the destination for anyone coming into the city by bus from its mofussil areas. It doesn't mater that the origin of bus could be another metro city - Benagaluru, for example - but that doesn't matter; anything outside the city is mofussil. And so here we are, looking down to the transport to the wide world outside, from a very in-city mode of transport - the metro!

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