The Mumbai Chronicles - 5: 'Local Bogies'

Observations on a typical Mumbai local train journey:

“Darling” he whispered into my ear. Shocked, I twisted my head an impossible 180 degrees and was horrified to see him grinning at me. It took me a full 5 seconds to realize he had an earplug in his ear and was talking on the phone!


“Pari passu charge means we’re sharing the rights on the asset equally with the lender” the guy next to me explained to someone over the phone. I had actually come across this term during the day and meant to find out its meaning. I would’ve thanked the guy if he weren’t on the phone.


There’s a strange kind of song that plays out at stations. It has a female singer, and a highly irritating tune. With a lot of concentration, I figured out the following lyrics:

“Rail ki patri paar na karein,

Karein pulon ka istemal,

Aur rahein sada surakshit”


“Do not cross the tracks,

Use the overhead bridges,

And always stay safe”

Why they have to sing out a perfectly serious warning beats me. It’s worse when it sticks in your head!


All kinds of advertisements are stuck on the insides of the train compartments. Here’s a sample:

“Too much electricity bill?? For electricity meter PROBLEMS, call 98728xxxxx”

Didn’t know you could advertise meter tampering services.


I psyched myself up for the challenge ahead. The last time hadn’t gone so well. I was betrayed at the last moment by the guy in front of me, in whom I had put all my trust. I trusted he would be getting down at my station (Andheri), standing as he was near the exit. He didn’t, and I was stuck behind him. By the time I managed to reach the exit, I was swept backwards by the onrushing mob boarding the train. I was so stuck, that I had to push people outward to take each breath. If I could jump up, I would’ve been suspended in the air, so tightly was I packed in the crowd. Getting down at the next stop (Jogeshwari) was claimed to be impossible by a few around me. Thankfully a couple of kind uncles urged me to keep fighting, keep pushing, and more importantly, keep believing I could do it. I can honestly say that the only reason I could get off the next stop was because of my ability to squeeze through extremely narrow spaces. So off the train I did get. Only I wished I hadn’t.

I had never missed my stop before and my ticket had never been checked either. Of course, now that I had over-travelled for once, the other thing was bound to happen as well. I jumped from the crowded train, straight into the ticket checker’s extended palm. A little pleading, a little bargaining, a little explaining and Rs 120 later, he let me go. He suggested I never travel by that particular train again, and since then I’ve really stuck to that sound piece of advice.

I also always ask the guy in front if he’s getting down at the next station. Just like everyone else.



And however crowded the Mumbai locals may be, I guess I should be thankful that they're not like this:

(as pointed out to me by my friend Nirjhar)


  1. lol...sounds like these train journeys are more eventful than your entire day :D

  2. OMG!!! i was abt to post smthng abt my memorable train rides soon. :) :P

    I hav had so many varied exp in thr dat its better ill write a post abt all of dem. heheh!!! I travel evryday in a virar bound train n trust me!!! ladies coach me kuch bhi hota hai.. lolz. :P :D

    nice post.

  3. @Azra: You know, I think that might actually be true. How sad is that?!

    @Annie: Grt, looking forward to it! Having read your blog, I'm sure it'll be hilarious.. :)

    I get down at Andheri, so I stick to the Andheri train only, and skip the Borivali and Virar trains.

    And now I'm curious to know what happens in the ladies coach!

  4. haha..funny post..
    I hav recently started traveling by the local trains and its super fun... the conversations and the fights r so entertaining that i never need my ipod if i get
    u hav an awesome blog man.. i likey.. :)

  5. @Nim: Why I don't need an ipod:

    And thank u for the likey! :)

  6. Dude.. it is spelled 'paar' and not 'par' in "Rail ki patri par na karein".. I had a different thought process in mind before I read your translation. (If you don' know, in villages, rail kii patri is used for 'freshening up')

  7. You should do like a "Memoirs of my train journeys" or something more eloquent :)

  8. @Anon: You're right! My bad.. It has been corrected now.. and lol at the 'freshening up' bit.. :D But its not really possible on local tracks, coz the trains arrive within 3-4 minutes of each other. Unless you're super-quick.. :P

    @Azra: I think a few posts on this blog is as close as it'll come to 'Memoirs..' These trains though have a place in our popular culture. There's this hindi film 'Ek chaalis ki last local' (1:40 am last local train) which is based on a guy who misses his train, and the sequence of events that follow are hilarious! A dialogue: 'Last local kya chooti, saala kismat patri par aagayi' (Missing the last train brought my life on the right track)


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