Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Mumbai local - Lifeline or life-sucker?

There is the first class, the second class, the third class and much below that at the very bottom comes the cattle class. I have the rare privilege of travelling in the cattle class or as we Mumbaikars proudly like to call them, the local trains, every day.

Like thousands of Mumbaikars I travel to office everyday by public transport. But instead of getting into the trains like normal humans do, we get dumped, or to put it politely, herded into the metal box. Trust me when I say, travelling by train day in day out is nothing less than a main event fight night. The only difference here being instead of two fighters slogging it out for gold, here it is a free-for-all. The 'gold' in this case is a place to sit or during peak hours a place to stand without being mashed from all sides. So you can imagine when I say that the journey each way feels like a lifetime. Two lifetimes if I don't get a place!

Look carefully and you shall find two trains hidden in the crowd.

Try as I might I cannot find a single point that I like about the local trains in Mumbai except that it is the fastest way to my office, albeit not the most comfortable. I hate the crowded trains. It is like a living entity in itself, living and breathing a different life. I hate it when people forget simple manners and etiquette in their quest to find a tiny amount of space. Though I do generally tend to slip in and out of the crowd, there have been times when I have been elbowed on my face or stamped on my foot. I hate it when a man having got no time in the morning to visit the loo, let's loose an anonymous fart so toxic that if used to make a bomb can destroy half the world. What’s more, that person will be the first one to shout and blame someone else. This incident happened on a Monday morning of all days on my way to work. I had to get off two stations before my destination to breathe in fresh air. No need to state the obvious but it destroyed my morning all together. The only other smell that can rival it, is the ‘chameli ka tel’ on a guy’s head. Travel to Bandra by train and more often than not you shall find such a guy. And what's more, he will be of that exact height so that when he stands in front of you his head will be just under your nostrils. Ever heard of nose hair burning? This rare phenomenon happens only when travelling in a local train. I also hate the so called 'seats' which are basically wooden planks you park your asses on and also the fans that do spin, but do not what a breeze is. 

But above all these, what I hate the most is when a woman enters a general compartment during peak hours and in that acute scarcity of space expects to be treated like a lady. Yes lady I will give you as much space as you want, but tell me where the hell do I bring it from? And if that wasn’t enough, she goes and gets a small kid and expects more sympathy! If there was no place for you in the first place, where do I get some for your kid? Haven't you ever heard of a ladies' compartment or a ladies special train? We grumble and complain but at the end give her a space enough to seat two grown up men. This happened to me this evening on my way back from office and is what prompted me to write this post. If I hadn't written this on the train, I'm sure I would have exploded like a time bomb.

So this is how life is inside the local trains. They maybe the lifeline of the city, but they surely suck the life out of you. 


  1. I too used to travel to work in the local... but somehow I liked it..because I could go to sleep:)))

    Glad to have found you at indiblogger. Your newest follower and a regular visitor now.

  2. Pradhumn Tripathi4 April 2012 at 03:05

    As I said earlier that I love to read your articles. This one is one of them where you sketch the TRUE Picture of Mumbai's Lifeline. Till the time I had been at Mumbai, I really enjoyed my Local train journies and made few very good friends.
    I look forward to see more articles from you!!!

  3. wow!! glad that the blog has helped you vent the frustration!! :) nd u know such posts which depict the real life scenarios or which people can relate to are thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by me :p...so look fwd to more such posts frm u...

  4. Well Kajal, I'm sure life is a bit easier in the ladies' compartment! But I'm glad that you liked my post and could relate to it!

    Keep reading!! :)

  5. I'm glad you liked it! Hopefully I'll be able to keep writing good stuff for you all to read!! :)

  6. Thanks re Reeeechaaa! I'm glad it was your type!! :D

  7. That oily head under the nostrils is one of my pet nightmares as well:):) Great post

  8. Haha! Good to know that I'm not only lucky one!!
    I'm glad you liked the post!

  9. hahaha! super, sambit! well thankfully in my time in Mumbai i didnt have to take the train to work. But it helps a great deal being thin though :)

  10. TP tha!! Especially the nose hair burning!! :P
    Well u r certainly wronged when u say tht life is much easier in a ladies' compartment! I have travelled by train for all 7 years of my college life...n i can vouch for it when i say that women's compartment can be super entertaining...but thats only if u are a witness to the whole drama and wish to get entertained! Nahin toh solid painful!
    Anyway...happy that you took the effort to write again! :)

  11. i can not forget that croud in mumbai

  12. It is truly something unforgettable!!