Monday, 20 January 2014

A Mumbaikar's lifeline.

I've been a Mumbaikar all my life. I'm too accustomed to the crowded roads, the Mumbaiya language, the beaches I never step my foot on, the roadside food etc. to barely come close to thinking about moving to any other city. 

Any part one of the world I travel, I compare that particular place with Mumbai, how empty the roads are, do they make vada pavs, how long the frequency of their train or bus system is or in other parts of India- how pure their hindi is! 

Life in Mumbai is an adventure in itself, especially the train life. Only rich brats and delicate dolls are supremely deprived of traveling in a Mumbai local train. 

The early days of traveling in a local all by yourself.

Just like most of us, I commuted in a train after 10th standard, for college. I was in the middle of chaos on Borivali station on the very first day. Getting late for college. I had no clue as to which platform I was supposed to take off from! Fast train or slow train? Which direction train is the Churchgate one! It was a pretty big dilemma at that time.

Suburban war.

Having no clue whatsoever about any feuds between any suburb passengers, I resorted to travelling in a fast train coming from virar. I was really getting late on that day! The platform was deserted; I realized later why. The train arrives. Turns out Borivali passengers are debarred from getting on a virar train. I wasn't spared either. Disheartened, I tried to persuade my way in the next one. 

Virar dude: Piche waale dabbe me ja idhar jagah nahi hain.

Pitiful me: Mere akele ke liye toh kaafi jagah hain. Andheri hi utarna hain boss.

Dude again: Borivali se chootnewala train pakad na.

Very pitiful me: Please chadhne do na class ke liye late ho raha hain!

Virar dudes: akela hain sirf, le lete hain isko.

Relieved me: Pheww. :| (Train mafia!)

The East or West saga.

I get over my first day somehow. Enter second day. A slow train from borivali; it had to be. I'm late again, yet to get along with the timings. I get down at Vile Parle, storm my way up the stairs and off the bridge and booom, it's all changed. I can't see the Ram Krishna Hotel or the HDFC bank where my classes were. I ask around and I am told I was the wrong side of the railway track. Damn. How stupid I felt I was. 

Never have I mistaken for east/west after that day!

Many people have their set of tricks to identify this without anybody's help. Stand in the direction of Virar- to your left is west and to your right it's east. 

Shopping market.

Ladies compartments are a shopping bazaar for many petty items! Over the years I have come across many innovative products in the general coach myself.

An ear cleaner with a torch - How does anybody use it on self? Gift it to their wives? or girlfriends? 

A light bulb which is unbreakable - Why would I need one? I, like most common people, don't have the habit of banging light bulbs at reasons unknown.

Pens with waterproof ink which actually looks good and they give you a free trial as well - Nothing funny about this. What bamboozles me is that fact that they are being sold  for "Paanch ka das" because their "company has a special offer". 

Gas lighters- The guy was confidently selling each for 10 bucks and giving away a confident warranty of a week. I wonder how that was supposed to work  

Aarti groups

I'll be very honest; I'm not a very huge fan of the aartis and bhajans in the train. Sometimes it all sounds like a noise and sometimes it in fact sounds good to the ears. What puzzles me is how those men have the energy to be so energetic after a long day's work, every damn day! Those people are seated in the same train, same coach, same seats, every single working day! 

These are few things you will not find in trains in any part of the world. 

It is weird how people are looking for a seat so badly when the trains are crowded like hell and people stand at the doors when seats are available in plenty. It is sometimes bewildering how most of us are bothered about being late for work when the trains are late because of an accident on the tracks. It is humble how there is always a "fourth" seat in a general coach and space just enough only for your buttock on the third seat of a first class coach. It is only Mumbai where life gets back on track almost the very next moment after a crisis strikes us. It is crazy how a fatso becomes a certain Usian Bolt at the sight of his train taking off. 

Commute by the railway for a week and you learn the value of a few seconds. We are Mumbaikars, we live by the minute! 


  1. Let me Tell you something about Mira road experince.
    From Bhayander there are some trains that starts but they get packed there in Bhayander only and for Mira road people, except leaving one after another with a hope that the next train will be a little bit empty to accommodate myself. But its near to impossible except the groups in the locals.

  2. Akshay, shift to Borivali; all your problems will be solved ;)
    Thanks Bagwe :D

  3. Presenteed the True Face of Mumbai Local Daily Drama :D ...Really Good One brother!!

    Traveling in Mumbai Local is as Good as going on a WAR!!! ;)

  4. Good one !! Train journey surely gives all of us some real good life lessons :)