It’s coming very fast.
It’s come, attack now.
Dhum!! Dhadaak!! Punch, slap, kick!!
Aaaahhhhh!!!! (Sigh of deep relief)
No, I am not talking about war scene of a bollywood movie or how some goons were waiting for their target and bashed them up as soon as the target arrived.
I am talking about how my day starts. I am talking about the famous yet the notorious, the pride of Mumbai yet the plight of Mumbaikar, the Mumbai Locals.
There are two kinds of people on this planet – ones who know about Mumbai Locals and ones who don’t. The second type lives in the jungles of Africa hence will not read this post. For the benefit of first type, this is the route (in red) I follow everyday to reach my office. Obviously, the reverse of it used to reach home from office.
There are two kinds of people among the first kind – those who live in Mumbai and those who don’t. For the second kind, they live in villages (For a Mumbaikar, everything but for Mumbai is a village). The first kind forms the one and only urban society in this country.
There are two kinds of people who live in Mumbai – those who travel by Mumbai locals and those who don’t. Those who don’t, they actually never travel because during rains, everyone is strongly are advised to stay inside due to flooding on streets and when it’s not raining, you are admonished by the traffic which is definitely faster than the rate at which flyovers are built in the city.
And the last of two kinds are– those who rest their bottoms on seats and those who just cannot.
The biggest worry for a Mumbaikar is not the soaring inflation or the bomb threats or the killer rains or anything more lethal but its just one – shall I get a place in the local or not. And he will do anything to get his bottoms rested, anything.
For example, a train running from Churchgate to Borivali follows the following route (i.e. after passing major part of the route) Andheri-Jogeshwari-Goregaon-Malad-Kandivali-Borivali. Then it returns to Churchgate. For someone like me who boards the starting train from Borivali, life should be a cake walk because I take it from the originating station. Instead, for the first few weeks, I always wondered why I could hardly manage to walk my way through inside the train. I was always standing on one foot fighting for breath. Hence once I asked an old man who was comfortably sitting
“Uncle, how come do you get a seat?”
“I board the train at Malad” a winning smile was all over his face blinded by moustache.
“Oh, so if I board the train from Malad, I can get a seat”
“Not necessarily, but if you board the train from Goregaon, you will surely get a place to sit” damn, what if people start boarding from Churchgate?
“Uncle, but Malad to Borivali is minimum 10 minutes. Train stops at Borivali for another 10 minutes before starting again. Don’t you think you are wasting at least 20 minutes?” I have always been an analyst.
Instead of replying he simply dozed off whereas I kept standing on one foot for next 45 minutes. Speech is silver, silence is gold is what someone said.
But even with wasting 20 minutes or rather investing, returns could be enormous. Imagine your boss is also travelling in the same compartment and fighting for breath as he boards from Malad while train is going to Churchgate where as you are snoring in your seat at 140 decibels. And when both of you meet at the station, you can surely crib “Sir, Mumbai locals are such a pain” In train, the one with the chair is the boss. For one hour or more, he lives life king-size where as others just live to survive or vice-versa. It is such a fantastic example of capitalist society in a democracy.
If there are such lazy butts thirsty for rest, there are some daring Tarzans also who always prefer to hang at the door even if the entire compartment is filled with nothing but, well air.
Trains are great social levellers also. Person to your right might earning five times as you do and the person to your left might be earning one fifth what you earn but, you all share the same pain, the same air and by the time you reach your destination, same body odour also. Either you get to learn about different deodorants from really close quarters or you realize why deodorant must be made mandatory for all citizens by GOI.
Trains also reflect social status. In Mumbai, people might sometimes judge your take home salary from the station you board the train. Be careful while asking about the station from which someone boards the train. If he does so from Bandra and you ask “Do you take the staring train from Borivali?” It’s riskier than asking a female sitting next to you in office “Are they completely real?” You know what I mean.
Trains change your attitude towards certain things in life. Even while boarding an outstation train where I have a reserved seat, I instinctively feel like jumping into it as soon as it arrives. Learning – you need not jump every time an opportunity arrives; sometimes you should wait for it to come to you also. When sitting in a car, I always try to hold onto something although no one is going to push me. Learning – if life becomes easy sometimes, take it easy. But the biggest learning is of nirvana. Every time you finish the journey and get down, just one thought momentarily surrounds your mind – no matter how much trouble one had during the journey, at the end of it everyone reaches his destination station. New travellers board the train and new journey starts. But the thought leaves you mind very next moment when you realize if you don’t walk fast enough, you might get stuck in the crowd at the platform. If you get stuck there, you may not get the auto rickshaw or miss your bus. You must reach home in time, eat and sleep just to get up early next morning to catch the train. Life becomes more of a conveyer belt and you the Pepsi can – who gets different shapes at different moulding stations, gets used, becomes garbage, is recycled and comes back to same conveyer belt.
- To be continued