The ‘local’ is the name given to the train that serves as a lifeline to thousands of suburban Mumbaikkars on a daily basis. A lot can be said about it, but an experience is what one ought to have in their lifetime and that too when they go to Mumbai. Though they are synonymous with the hustle that is associated with people getting in and out at maddening and lightening pace, there is still some amount of excitement that one endures in travelling. Atleast that’s what I experienced during my stint in Mumbai!!
Here I narrate about the first few instances while I travelled in the ‘local’ as I had heard lots about it and wanted to see what it took to travel in it. Moreover, it was the first time in Mumbai as well. So I was in total confusion as to whether I would survive there or not!! As usual, the work about the local travel, I wrote as a reflection will be put on air tomorrow Moreover, the conversations are in English and thankfully not in Kannada, Tulu or Hindi for a change!!
C-CHINMAYA ie me
M-MAHESH (The only friend of mine in Mumbai at that point of time)
(Sunday morning at Sahar airport ..Around 11 AM, April 2006)
M-Hey dude, I am so happy that you made it to Mumbai finally..
C-Well,this time round, I’ve come on placement and not as a student..got to find my way in this big city of yours..
M-That you may or may not able to..anyways, since you are here, MAJAA MAADI!!
C- Lets see about that over time!. By the way dude, how do you get to Andheri??thats where I’ve been given accommodation for a week
M That’s a nice area dude..But where will you stay after one week?
C-Thought that you’ll help me out..besides my office is in Andheri itself..
M-Where in Andheri?
C- As in?
M- Arre baba, here in Mumbai, we have East and West. So,where there??
C- Lets check once in the guest house. But did you call any brokers to find out places for me?
M- Well, you get cheap flats at Mira Road..
C- Now where is that dude?
M- Well, its 6 stations from Andheri that’s all.
C-Stations?..What stations and how far is it by road??
M- Railway stations. Here in Mumbai, we commute by trains!!..But they are jam packed and you may get squashed..Else. 6 stations would mean maximum half hour.
C-Hmmm…its so confusing here dude..anyways, lets head to the guest house for now..
(Somehow we travel to Andehri (West is what I later realised much later) and after going around in circles, we find the guest house..)
M- Dude, you are lucky..this is barely 10 minutes from the station.
C- Is it?. But god knows where my office is..
M- Anyways, you get ready. I spoke to a broker sometime back. He is meeting us at Ville Parle station.
C- Where’s that now?
M- I’ll take you by train! Will that excite you?
C- Oh yes!! I have heard so much about them!..
(Quickly I got ready and both made it to the station)
M- I have a pass. Wait till I get you a ticket.
(Comes with a ticket and I go to pay him the cash)
M- That’s ok dude. Rs 8 is nothing, to and fro.
C- That’s all!
M- Come now, the train is coming..
(As we enter the train, I am surprised its quite empty)
C- How come its so empty dude?
M- Crowd will pick up as it goes.
C- So where do we get down?
M- Next station.
M- Yes dude..Parla is just a station away from Andheri.
C- You cheated me.I thought that we could travel far.
M- That you experience by yourself..Thats the best way to know Mumbai better!!
(3 days later on the phone at around 10 AM)
C- Hey dude, its me Chinmay here..
C-Dude, how do I get to this VT?
M-VT?Thats CST! But whats taking you there?
C- I got to meet this Mallu kutti who was my classmate. She works with the Times of India and it seems its near VT.
M- Hmmmm…yes, the office is just opposite the station itself!
C-Station? You mean I got to take the train?
M- Don’t worry dude . Go to Andheri station and ask for the platform where you get trains to CST. Take the train and go!. Call me in the evening and we will meet at the station.
C- Dude, you think its safe?How far is it anyways?
M-Arre baba, chill maadi..Its just 13 stations from Andheri!
C- I am dead for sure..I just wish I am alive by evening to meet you. Anyways, lets catch up later.
M- Sure thing dude!!.All the best and remember JAI MAHARASHTRA!!
(Its evening 7 PM and location is near Andheri West station)
M- Dude, is it really you?..You look as though you were beaten up by someone!
C- Is it so? Don’t ask.Anyways, I survived and managed to travel to and fro somehow in that rush.
M- Welcome to AMCHI MUMBAI dude. That calls for a treat from your end!
C- What do we do for the ‘treat’?
M- Chal, come now. We’ll have “vada-pav-cutting” for a change.
(As I remembered my first few days in Mumbai and the first ‘proper’ local travel much later, I wrote this work !)
About a mode of transport thought I pen as its something special
as in Mumbai, we fondly refer it to as the LOCAL .
One look, from outside, any bystander, would think if its really sane
to travel in it as though one will have endure lot of physical pain.
It is something that has become a part of people's lifeline
as in it, you have to travel in itn without even letting out a whine.
You may have to cut across people and their shoulders, arms etc brush
to be able to travel to your destination in the maddening rush.
Ist,IInd,ladies,handicapped and luggage are the different class
in the train by which travel majority of the city's mass.
Westren, Central and Harbour are the lines it runs
and transports people, day and night, in the millions!!
Depicts the picture, the train, of a metropolitan life
which also has happiness amidst all the strife.
At times, the look of the local may look cool and swanky
and worst maybe when you find its not clean and stinky.
Traveling in the local is an unbelievable experience
yet sometimes it could be a real pain and nuisance.
Especially when you aren’t able to locate the direction
of where is out to come the alighting station!!
Yet at times, you may make a train friend
who would remain, maybe in life, till the very end.
That would make the travel really a pleasure
and experiences that one may think to treasure.
Like any Mumbaikkar,on a regular basis, as i travel
many things about the local, iam still out to unravel.
Hence, about these, to all, my limited views, thought i narrate
and curiosity, especially among the outsiders, i try to create!!