Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Life is a race! I am sure we all remember this from ’3 Idiots’. Although, as per me, life is a race… Not against time… Not against each other… But simply to catch a train from any of Mumbai & surrounding suburbs stations during peak hours, at times throughout the day.
Ever since traveling has become part of my daily routine there is no walking peacefully, it is literally a demand from entire Universe to run & that is the only way I can manage to get home on time. There is no stopping, standing, staring, stooping on a platform but simply waiting and thinking of a way to make sure you get into the train before it starts. The crowd on platform multiplies (if possible, more no. Of times than the world population) with every passing second and the probability to get into the tiny compartment of train reduces while the time taken to reach the desired destination expands. If you need to teach anyone importance of time, platforms are the place. The frustrated crowd when a train is cancelled, people running to catch the train as it starts moving from the platform, people missing train by matter of few seconds; No, they do not do this on purpose. Yes, they do fear for life. Yes, they do have family & friends waiting for them back home. Yet, everyone is in hurry to be first in the race of catching a train. Missing a train would mean infinite number of minutes of wait till the next train comes, catching the next train which is not even suppose to stop at your destination so you keep changing trains, catching a slow train rather than fast which takes forever to reach. All these are apparently not an excuse for to reach late to work next morning. The employer will not understand the hectic experience of emotional ‘atyachaar’ at the wheels of local train.
Even after managing (I doubt even God knows how) to actually get into the desired train, the fight of survival does not end. The compartments are so crowded as if the entire crowd of a stadium has been packed into one. It is very difficult to distinguish one’s own body part and belongings from that of others. You will automatically adjust yourself to whatever little place you manage to secure for standing. Seating in trains is the most precious thing during peak hours, if you actually manage to get a seat you would feel on top of the world, an achiever. As soon as you get a seat, you will feel many envious eyes stare at you, many other coming over to ask where you get down so that they can grab your seat. Many a times I have come to realize the miracles of train seats, no matter if you are fat, thin, tall, short, with luggage, without baggage, there is always four people on any given seat.
God forbid you have to get down at the stations in between the final destination of train. 30 Seconds of halt at all the stations for trains where as the entire crowd in compartment holds their breath, thinking of what is to come now. People getting down the train are at mercy of those who are about to get into the train, even before the train comes to complete halt, everyone is trying to get down and others trying to board at the same time, none of them having patience to wait and blaming each other for inconvenience caused. The proportion of people getting down from a train to people boarding the train is 1:2, and still there is place in already overcrowded compartment to cramp in the one passenger who runs and catches the train holding on to one single rod for dear life.
All the above described is during normal circumstances which tend to worsen when it rains, when the trains are late, when even a single work in progress in going on. A salute to everyone experiencing the Mumbai Style train traveling. Although the messed up situation, Mumbai and Mumbaikars will not function without the beloved local trains, all of us are thankful they are still running and functional!
- July 26, 2016