My residence is bang on the Versova Ghatkopar Metro line and it rejoices me no end to see this only operational metro line attracting the attention of the advertisers. A few of the trains have been painted with the advertisements by the sponsors. However, more strikingly, it’s the very renaming of few of the stations by including the name of the advertiser or sponsor. Ghatkopar was VIVA Ghatkopar ( I don’t know whether the sponsorship continues or not), while Andheri station used to be Bank of Baroda Andheri. Yesterday, I noticed the station near my residence being renamed as Medimix Azad Nagar.
This made me nostalgic about my birthplace Delhi of yore, when the main bus termini in the heart of Delhi, Connaught Place, used to have names that represented the iconic landmarks there. These stops were called Madras Hotel ( since renamed Shivaji Stadium), Regal ( since renamed Jantar Mantar) , Plaza ( also renamed but I don’t recollect what). Those were the days of simplicity when iconic restaurants and theatres held greater might than poor DTC. But while the iconic places kept on vanishing one by one- Madras Hotel closed down after decades of existence purportedly due to expiry of lease, Regal shutdown after years of struggled existence and Plaza became a multiplex a few years ago, the corporations learnt the tricks of trade.
The corporations such as DTC, Mumbai Metro, BEST etc , who have struggled financially as the fare collection is insufficient for their sustenance, have opened newer revenue streams by offering their vehicles and other assets to advertisers for additional revenue. And that brought to my mind the nostalgic thought – there are no free lunches!