When you start writing about Mumbai, there is so much to talk about. If you talk about local trains then you can talk for hours about them. The following is the second and concluding part about the marvel the locals are.
Getting down from a train is fairly easy. First you let your body relax. Detach yourself from all stings, which means do not in any way catch the handle bars above or rods or people in the compartment. Submit yourself to nature and yes you are out on the wave of humans. A word of caution though. Look out for that bar at the entrance.
Getting in is different at different stages. If you getting in between the first and the last station you have to push and push till the people inside push hard to come out and we are all stuck in between. You have to manage to make your way through the person next to you, the door and the person trying to come out. But then you have to make use of every space available. Getting on the train at the start of destination requires some scientific calculations. It’s based on the simple formula. You run with the train, get to the speed of the train, use your mouth to give the choicest words to the people who are standing at the door, catch the door rod and haul yourself in. It’s a difficult situation if you slip. You either land inside where everybody would be running over you or you land outside which can be very dangerous to the limbs or life.
Standing in the train is another feat you do when traveling. You are not aware where your hands or legs are. The same time you have to take care of your purse, your belonging and yourself. The most difficult area to stand is near the door. Everybody is pushing you outside and you are desperately trying to stay in.
Once in the Mumbai locals have their own set of entertainment and it comes absolutely free. No rules, no censorship just pure entertainment. Different people use different means of passing time. Some take time to catch up on their reading. Some start reading what others are reading. You may find a number of people reading that one newspaper from different angles. It doesn’t matter if you have not paid for a newspaper. You can borrow from anyone in the train. You can doze off if you are lucky enough to get a seat. Many people prefer to catch sleep and that too on the neighbor’s shoulder. The neighbor tends to wake them, ignore them or just flip them. The sleeper gets up momentarily looks at the neighbor and either looks sorry or ignores him or looks angrily at him for waking him from his beauty sleep. Then there’s the bhajan group or the film songs singers, who take 2-4 seats at the same time. All the seats are rotated between the group members. Then there are those who are always in a bad mood cursing everybody who comes within millimeters close to them (that’s the space available for each person).
Mumbai locals are a mix match of cultures and people. Your salary, your designation, your religion, your caste, your sub-caste, nothing matters once you are sandwiched between all those people. Yes sex does matter because you have different ladies compartment. It’s just a journey from one point to another. A matter of a little time. Friendships are made and broken. Love starts and end here. You can hear many stories of people always caught the same train everyday because that cute girl would be on the platform. The fact that they never have the courage to talk to her is a different story altogether. I have known people becoming friends in train. This friendship extends to families. Anything and everything can be discussed between total strangers like you have known them from years. Everybody has an opinion either you want it or do not want it.
Mumbai locals are crowded, old and overworked. There have been promises that new smart and comfortable trains are on the plan. But till that happens, the Mumbai locals will keep on running and weave a story of their own.