Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Safarring in a Mumbai local

I waited for the local train at Andheri. It was 7:30 PM, just two minutes since the last local had gone by, and the station was three-quarters full already!! Well, I thought, let me try the front coach, where lesser people were likely. I waded through the noisy crowd and reached the position where the first second class compartment was expected. The train finally came, and when I saw it near, with crowds protruding from doors on both sides, a sense of fear built up within me. I prayed. God, help me get inside, and reach Goregaon unscathed.

It slowed down. Already, people were being pushed out of the train and shouts of chalo, chalo were heard. I took my position in the crowd waiting to enter the coach. My 'lesser people at the front' theory, was of course, wrong. How stupid of me to make such an assumption. The train stopped. People who were waiting to alight, were forced out in under two seconds. Then came the time for boarding. Most of those waiting to board pushed, shoved and managed to get in. I did the same as well; and I was at the rear of the crowd and barely made it. I was hanging outside with just the two vertical bars on either side for support, when the train started moving. Oh my god, please help.

I was lucky. Others who got in later, pushed me in. I stood there, without any support. After all, you did not need one in Mumbai's locals. Each one of them supports, and is supported by everyone else. Then came Jogeshwari, with very few who alighted/boarded.

Once the train left Jogeshwari, a mob gathered near the door.

Each one reassured himself by asking the one in front - 'Aap Goregaon mein uthar rahe kya?'


Those who replied 'nahin' were rudely ordered to go back and leave space. Then came Goregaon and I prepared for the worst. The familiar 'chalo, chalo' , the pushing, the shoving and I was relieved when at last I could get a fresh breadth of air.

It had been just 5 min, but was some experience which I can never forget. There is something in this that I do enjoy as well - the excitement and the challenge that I face everytime I take a trip in the Mumbai local.