Travelling in Trains – Mumbai Edition.

Commuters in an open train door at Churchgate ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Making a journey in a Mumbai Local train is an experience in itself. If you have been to this city and haven’t boarded a electric train on any of the three  or four routes that ply through the metropolis, it means you have missed half the fun or half the nightmare, depending on the experience….

The daily commuter first walks, then jogs and finally does the steeple chase run to complete the last lap towards the station. The steeple chase is chosen only when he sees the train pulling into the station. During such occasions, everyone like others, just run across the tracks, then on to the station platform. Maybe the local commuter can qualify himself for long jumps and high jumps. The long jumps do come in handy especially during the rainy season.

The Boarding Phenomena

It is all about people management and the looks that you exhibit while boarding which does the trick. Every one has to be aware of the fact that nobody on board likes to welcome yet another addition to the already woe full compartment with all its characters. One has to look humble but strong enough to show others that he is fit enough to survive the journey.

The Travel

Some prefer foot board travel rather than standing inside the rush, as the wind keeps you fresh if not your groomed hair. But then travelling on the foot board has its pros and cons

Pros

Don’t have to use the deodorant in excess
Don’t have to ruffle your hair every minute, if that is your style.
Don’t have to pick up fights with fellow commuters
Less chances that your pockets will be picked.
Helps your biceps and shoulders if you are hanging on the footboard.
Less chance of the shine on your shoes being messed by someone stamping on them.
Do not get infected by freely floating bacteria and viruses inside.
Do not have to worry about bench bugs ( appropriately bed bugs)
Do not have to worry about escape, if a fire or a fight starts…whichever is earlier.

Cons

Corns on your hands by holding tightly on the handle or the door frame.
You might reach a destination that you never intended to.
You have to get down at every station and make way for others
Chances are that you may not get a chance to board again.
A fellow passenger dragging you with him, once he slips.
Getting rid of loose papers from your shirt pocket.
Cannot use the comb, or you will reach your tomb.

The Landing Experience

Getting down from a train is not a big task as compared to the boarding one. But still people have to be wary about how they are positioned while getting down. If you are too near the door, chances are that you will be pushed out before you have time to complain or explain. If you think you can handle the situation being at the end of the lot trying to get down, that is a big mistake. You will, to your surprise discover a crowd of people barging their way in and you might have to abort your landing. Trains like planes, especially the local trains do not wait for their passengers to alight or board. They have their own fixed seconds in which everything happens.

“Time and Train do not wait for anyone”.

Let us look at the passengers who alight. 25 percent wade their way across the railway footbridges to the west. 15 percent drift to the east end of the station. Another 20 percent start running for their lives to catch trains on other platforms. 10 percent just stand and stare not knowing what to do next. 5 percent just loiter around the newspaper stalls or canteen stalls. 5 percent jump back into the train – the same footboard travellers. Rest of the break up is as shown below

People who were forced to get down and could not get back
People who had to alight here because they could not get down at the last station.
People aborting their journey because they lost their purses midway, lost the wristwatch, lost the will to go to work, or because they got a call on their cell phone from their dear ones to come back.
People who decide as to how to escape ticket checkers.
People who got on the down train by mistake when they wanted to take the up train.
People who were travelling the whole day because boarding a train was cheaper than boarding a hotel.

I hope you are prepared in case you are contemplating a ride in these trains during rush hour…

Childhood revisited

Golden days to think of as we get Old..

Talking of price rise and what a rupee or for that matter a 10 rupee note can buy today ..maybe a Maha Munch ( a chocolate)… I thought of devoting some of my spare time to rekindle old memories of my school days during the 70’s in Bombay ( now Mumbai).

Pocket money coined in those years more as coin money was a welcome gift from our parents and the most we could get during those days was a 20p or a 10p on a daily basis. I was not in a habit of spending those coins on a daily basis though. It might so happen, that there could be dry days in between.

A 10 paisa or a 5 paisa coin used to put our young minds in a dilemma as to what item could be purchased. There was always the local small grocer, who had all the stuff, right from 1p so as to say, you could fulfill the senses of your sweet tooth five times over. But that was too meagre.

The local grocer had pappadis, groundnuts, loose biscuits of Parle G, Chikkis, Ravalgoan sweets and what nots. On the way to school and around the school, especially during recess time, there used to come, a few hawkers who could understand our weakness for sweets, especially the chikkis and cotton candy, the sugar balloons that we used to call them during those time. The chikkiwala had a chisel with him which was used to chisel out portions of chikki from his large circular plate, which he used to keep on his bamboo stand, away from our prying hands if not from our eyes. I thought during those times the chikki was costlier than gold, the way he used to hand it over to us for our 5 paisa or 10 p that was doled out to him in return.

The process of making the cotton candies was enchanting for us, as the hawker used to practically reserve the preparation in front of our eyes, so that most of us would come out and stand around him than go across to any other optional hawker who offered his services to us on that day.

By the time, we chewed on the chikki and enjoyed the saliva mix with the goodness of jaggery, the bell would go off, thus signalling the end of recess time. It was, when we came to the secondary school that was a good 500 metres away, when the ice cream or the gola (crushed ice ) maker was made accessible to us. He along with another maker was always positioned on the road adjoining the municipal school, that was on the way to our school. There were other hawkers on the street selling all sorts of condiments, (jamuns, green berries which we used to train our eyes to wink) but the moment our eyes caught sight of these 2 persons, all the rest would fade into darkness. They had this excellent assortment of colours to lace the ice crushed. The grating and the formation of the gola (crushed ice with a sprinkling of lemonade) was yet another process that would entertain our eyes. These people whether they be the golawala, the sweet candy maker, all were magicians in those heydays for us.

A treat to my classmates, especially the close friend circle used to be a gola and for that i used to save my daily allowance. near the school premises. Apart from the gola makers, there were the kulfiwallahs who used to make their appearance once in a while, and we used to grab the opportunity whenever it came wrapped in a kulfi. The effect of rains would drive away most of these vendors and not surprisingly all the wet days were in fact dry days for us little ones..