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!

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“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.

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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”

Translation:

“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!

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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.

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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.

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Addendum:

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)

Comments

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

    ReplyDelete
  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.
    Cheers,
    Annie.

    ReplyDelete
  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!

    ReplyDelete
  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 bored..lol..
    u hav an awesome blog man.. i likey.. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Nim: Why I don't need an ipod: http://arslanaziz.blogspot.com/2009/04/mumbai-chronicles-2-dhinchak-mornings.html

    And thank u for the likey! :)

    ReplyDelete
  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')

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

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  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)

    ReplyDelete

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