Gaadi bula rahi hai…. Seeti bajja rahi hai…
What exactly is the “life” of Mumbai Lifeline…
By Niyati Agrawal
“Platform kramank 2 par aane waali gaadi nau baj kar ekyawan minute ki churchgate ke liye dheemi local hai. Yeh gaadi sabhi stationo par rukegi.”
Most of the Mumbai population starts their day with a very similar announcement. Local trains are called the “lifeline” of this city. However they are in news for all the wrong reasons. Every day we hear this lifeline turning to a death trap, be it the bomb blast or train collisions or people falling off the compartment. For someone who does not travel in the trains would think that it is only a lifeless mode of transport. However for us who travel in the trains, it really is life. It just doesn’t takes us to and fro our destination it is a part of our lives.
One thing that we look forward to in the trains is train shopping. Yes, you heard it right. Trains are more fashion forward than our showrooms. You get all the latest trends in fashion including accessories, bags, cosmetics and sometimes even clothes. The hawkers sometimes have fixed timings and trains that they go to. These hawkers now know the regular travellers and customers. They take orders from their customers and exchange the good if there is any problem. They have a relation of trust and no one is ever cheated for sure.
Other than clothes pirated copies of books are also sold. This is generally done by young school going children who sell them after or before their school timings. These kids know how to read and very fluently pronounce the names of the books with authors. They are trained enough that they sometime can tell you what the book is about. They are very adorable and keep persuading you by telling that buy the book; it is a very good one; it is an international author! Anything with an international name becomes the bestseller book for them.
One day I was very fascinated on seeing household items being sold. You get everything from scissors to mops to threads and buttons to kitchen lighters and sieves. During the peak hours one even finds food vendors and people selling water and cold drinks in the train. It sure is very refreshing to find such things being sold to you while travelling. These goods are cheap and affordable. Second class ladies compartment also has fish and vegetables being sold. They sure are a treat for working ladies who otherwise would have to go out and buy the home necessities.
Apart from the shopping and train friends you also have bhanjan madalis. It is very normal to find a train pass you by and you hear bhajans being sung in the general compartments. They are equipped with manjiras, dholaks and bells. Everyone joins them in for a little religious treat in the mornings.
Trains have become a great hangout place to catch up with friends you haven’t met in a while. Sometimes you meet them by chance or sometimes you decide which train to take. It sure becomes very noisy in the trains when too long lost female friends meet up. But hey, no complaining. It is always good to see such small incidents which light up someone’s day. Who knows one day even you will meet up with your friend.
You get to read others newspapers in the train. The person sitting opposite you is reading the first page, you read the last page. It is your benefit in the end. You hear the most comic conversations and learn about new developments in serials or movies or even about new songs. Sometimes you learn about things related to academics. You even find people crying in the train. Just offer them water or chocolate and see them smile. They just need a friend and train gives them that. You may even faint in the train without a worry. People will make you lie down, call your family, give you necessary medical assistance and if you are lucky you might even get a Reiki treatment.
With these good times one also encounters the most annoying people in the train and cat fights. They are funny and good till you are not involved. Once you are dragged into them then we know who is going home or to work with a very grumpy mood. These fights are senseless most of the time but fun nonetheless.
Trains are definitely a huge part of a Mumbaite’s life. They have made you late, they have made you reach on time. They have given you quiet compartments in the mornings and catch up on your lost sleep and even given you enough company to be able to travel safe even at 10 in the night. You may have been pushed out of a Virar train or pushed in during the rush hours. You have stepped out of the trains with bruises and wounds. You can crib all you like about trains and curse them but the next day you are again travelling in them.
It is like “you can love them, you can hate them but you can never ignore them.” You have got to travel in the train at least once to experience it because it is not something you get by reading. It is enjoyed first hand.