If you think commuting by a suburban train in Mumbai is a fantasy ride, ask a Mumbaikar how it really feels! Well, it’s not hunky-dory. The ocean of humanity and mad rush that you witness and experience here can teach you infinite bitter-sweet lessons. Some are funny, some scary and the rest bizarre.
Nonetheless, it is ironical that we Mumbaikars just can’t do without a local train. We simply cannot survive without it.
And we can give you innumerable reasons though they may sound satirical.
Interestingly there are things that you can learn from us while travelling. For the unversed, a regular suburban train has about 12 coaches. A few have 15! 3 are reserved for women and the rest are general compartments.
Since I travel in a ‘ladies’ coach, I can share my experiences that are extremely amusing. I have been inspired by a number of women who have mastered (if I may say so) the art of living in Mumbai, courtesy local trains.
Check out the lessons that may come in handy-
Time management: I have seen women cutting vegetables, plucking fresh leaves from a bunch of spinach or any other leafy vegetable, making a garland, knitting or doing embroidery. Working women often make use of long hours while travelling and thus save precious time. Hence they say - time and tide wait for none.
Socialising: An average Mumbaikar isn’t left with much in a day time to socialise. So it is not unusual to see one making a co-commuter a friend.
Networking: I have seen a number of working women do multi-tasking. Many of them run small ventures as a parallel source of income. They make use of their travel time in a local train to build a network and create a client base. Often, their co-commuters become their regular clients.
Kitty party on wheels: Don’t be amused if you find a group of women partying or celebrating birthdays while travelling. From cutting cakes to singing songs, organising kitty parties, you can see it all. Most women here are hard pressed for time and hence they make beautiful and enriching memories on wheels.
Take power naps: If you are sleep deprived, a cosy corner even in the middle of an irksome noisy crowd in the local train can help you take frequent power naps with your mouth wide open. The to and fro movement of the train in motion can make you sway sideways much to the annoyance of your co-passengers as you merrily enjoy your ride in dreamland.
Despite drawbacks, a local train makes living in Mumbai easier without a doubt. But the lessons that it teaches are far more endearing. Black, white and grey – it mirrors moments of agony and ecstasy that we humans experience in life otherwise.
So don’t be surprised if you see local train commuters pick up a fight for the silliest reason and the same set of people helping each other in times of crisis.