This post is seriously long due!!
Anyways I got two months of the FULL mumbai experience aka the Mumbaaai Local train experience! I landed up this job in Fort so I had to travel from Andheri to Churchgate. It was my first time travelling in these locals and I was for one, amazed at how often trains are scheduled and how despite that, every train is so soooo crowded! Within an interval of 3-4 minutes, the waiting platform used to get crowded again..people just kept streaming in and ofcourse the poor souls who were pushed and shoved out of the other trains would also remain back.
After a lot of experimenting with different timings (i.e after being pushed and shoved out of the different crowded trains filled with deceptively strong women (bullies!)) I finally found a timing when the train isn’t that crowded – the 8:27 C F local :). The experimenting involved once missing 3 trains trying to unsuccessfully get into them and being completely bullied out of climbing into them!! The 4th time however, even before the train came to a stop, I aimed for the pole at the center of the door, jumped in and held onto it with my life..phew! Haha..Unfortunately it happened to be a slow train and I got plenty of not very nice gaalis (and this was the “first” class) for blocking everyone’s way..anyhowww..such is life :D.
I was expecting my train travel (which took me an easy 3.5 hours up and down) to be a big ordeal. But then I realised it was quite entertaining. There are so many things you can do in trains. I spent a lot of time checking out what the latest trend in bags and shoes were. I used to feel like hiding my feet and its chipped nail polish looking at how the other women turned out! It being the “first class” and all that, the women dressed pretty well and I almost developed a complex comparing myself to the “latest” fashion.
In the first few days, I was amazed at how people could do anything while standing in a crowded train – From reading novels, to buying novels, to reading the paper, to listening to music, to chatting with friends made on the train, to browsing through earrings and rings being sold for 10-20 rupees. There were also women having interesting conversations on phones with boyfriends, other gossipy aunties, employees et al to which I unashamedly listened to entertain myself.
I slowly got into the mold, bringing my ipod one day, buying the masala filled mid-day paper some other day, bringing different novels, buying the 60 Rs novels etc or just listening to other people’s conversations 😀
Getting out of the train at your station was another art you have to master. I was mostly nice and tried not push and shove, but then people insisted I do that if I had to get out. On day ONE I committed a cardinal sin, atleast according to my husband. While returning from Chuchgate, since all trains stop at Andheri, I got into a Virar fast train. I should have known that it was a wrong move, when this woman asked me where I was going to get down and then snickered and even nudged the other women and told them condensendingly – “Andheri! Ha!”. So yes it is a folly since it is a monumental task to get out of the train with some 50 women trying to cram into it at your station. Luckily I observed the other bandra passengers who had DARED to enter the virar train and how they used to jump off the train before it came to a stop and just imitated them. I rammed into 2-3 passengers while attempting that stunt and almost fell over on another on the platform, but hell they are used to it.
After that, I stuck to the Borivili train which wasn’t so bad..You just have to ensure that you are at the door and you will automatically be pushed out at your station :).
The entire train experience, including the walk back and fro from my office to the station was intriguing. The buildings in FORT are all ancient masterpieces. I loved to look at them – The Fountain, the Mumbai High Court, The Mumbai university, all the banks nearby – Beautiful Buildings. And in the evenings, the saying “All roads lead to Rome” popped into my mind everyday. It was like the station was the central drain and everyone just flows into it. Even on the first day I did not have to ask for directions. I just followed the general direction that everyone was flowing into and I reached the station.
So yup, that has been my experience on the trains traveling to Churchgate.