Yes. This is about the Mumbai locals. The ‘local train’, to the uninitiated ! This post is in celebrating the spirit & remembering 7/11.What started out in 1853 between Bombay to Thane as the first rain connection in South East Asia, has traveled some distance. It now is the lifeline of a millions. Providing livelihood. Enabling a living. And living.
I traveled on it sometime back. The pictures clicked as we approached Victoria Terminus. By then, the compartment was ’empty’. It was only than, i could do something like clicking snaps ! The experience helped me experience the essence of this land.
The station & the queue was a sight. Hindu. Muslim. Parsee. Sikh. Tamil. Marathi. Bengali. Assamese. Hindi etc. Etc. And others as well. Every language can be heard. Every faith practiced. If only you care to listen. If only you are curious about the chap, standing on your toe !
At the station, there stands a sophisticated automatic vending machine. Which doesn’t work. And people queue up. There isnt time to ask why. There are better things to do! There is jostle. There is bustle. But there is movement.
We are out on the platform after wringing our bodies against strangers. The ‘locals’ rush in and rush out. In between the ‘in’ & ‘out’, a small village alights from each bogey and another gets right in. Once inside, a million hands seem to hold a few holsters. Nobody bothers about who you are. They are lost in the newspaper. In music. In chatter. To an ‘outsider’ like me, there is just space limited, perhaps for small organisms to survive! The metropolis and its constituents shrug off the lack of comfort with a lackadaisical shrug (done in a hurry) !
Stories abound of how people have travelled in the same compartment for years. Traveling with the same companions, year on year. Such communities would have synergistic avatars that are far reaching ! A colleague recounted a story, of how his father fell ill & consequently could not take the train for a few days. And presto, his ‘compartment friends’ were there at home to check if all was well. I got wide eyed, when he recounted that !
The three lines : Harbour, Central & Western are perhaps key ingredients that supply energy to the financial capital of India. As cliched as it may seem, i cant but add a line about the ‘spirit of Mumbai’. And an essential ingredient of that spirit is the quintessential Mumbai local !
So, when the bombs went off two years ago, the terrorists had hit their target well. The heart of Mumbai ! Perhaps what they didnt quite bargain for, was the bounce back. With a tearing hurry and a telling spirit.
A spirit which lives on. Every single day.
On three lines. Harbour. Central. & Western.