Friday, 17 May 2013
Travelling in a train for daily commute is something I have just started doing, and trust me, it’s more than just travel when you are in a city like Mumbai. Bustling stations with motley of crowd from your common laborer to the white collar executives, trains are a part & parcel of the life of a Mumbai resident.
Now when I did tell my friends that I would be taking the train to work everyday, the reactions tethered on the brink of pure sadistic to downright worry. I would soon realize why. While getting a hang of the train timings & platform numbers is a memory test in itself, getting on the train at major stations requires courage, grit & ribs of steel! There being separate compartments for women travelers & the standard 1st & 2nd class bifurcation, I opted for the 2nd class pass, considering I might just save up the money for a foot massage later in the month or maybe a broken rib.
Ok, Mumbai train travel rules (especially in the ladies compartments)- thou shall always make space for 4 on a seat for 3, thou shall start maneuvering towards the exit one station before your destination unless you’re ready for a mouthful of selected abuses & hateful stares. Pull ups on the balance handles, pushes against the sides, body massages by the hoards of fellow travelers – you shall have it all & yet return to this world again the next day.
When one does get a place to sit, it’s quite the time to observe & analyse the species called women. Clad in skirts, suits, sarees, formals, party-wear, wedding guest wear, uniforms, etc the trains are a catalogue of the working woman’s dressing. While the fisherwomen & laborers chat away incessantly, unnerved by the pushing & pulling, the college students seem to have earplugs & earphones growing out of their ears. There are the readers & there are the munchers. There are the amazingly alive to the depressingly tired. And then of course there are the vendors who hop on at random stations with their baskets of jasmine flowers tempting the ladies with the prospect of clean white petals adorning their hair. There are the artificial jewellery vendors carrying their wares in shirt boxes, who believe me, are not to be pissed off- you look at the items on sale ONLY if you’re going to buy something, or else, mamma wouldn’t have scolded you for touching things in the store so hard!!
All in all, there’s a new face everyday, a new feel everyday & yet the same old atmosphere which every train traveler settles into.