On tracks !

A number (that could sound improbable) of Mumbaikars travel on these tracks every day. Life revolves around these tracks as they go up and down carrying energy, conversation, laptops, books and such else ! Not to miss the countless hopes of a better life and the unmistakably prodigious body odour.

Bodies pressed against each other, so much so that your nostrils could swirl with smells of hair oil or deodorant depending on your height !

The 8.33 AM local is so much part of the missus’ recollections of her youth. For her and several others like her, life here revolves around the ‘local’. (Are you catching the ‘fast’ was a dialect that I was very slow in catching!)

Perpetual awe descends on the mind at the very thought of the local trains. Legendary as they are, they cart a population that would be equal to the population of Australia in five working days ! To travel in one during ‘peak hours’ requires a certain pugnacious and a drive that escapes simple description.

One look at the beehive bulge of commuters that jut out of a doorway as the tall towers and standard slum whizz by, can considerably shake up a mind that’s foreign to Mumbai.

Occasionally, (which would translate to once-in-a-day), the newspapers carry a story of how a man fell off and died. A normal man, who was getting to work as he had got to in the past several years fell off. Or perhaps was run over . Or how some sedentary lamp post came in contact with one of those that hung out of the doorway, perhaps a tad too far. Many times it happens too often to get reported !

There are other stories that reach the ear. About buddies and support systems that get formed here. Imagine sharing the next http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/zovirax_generic.html seat with someone for 10 years and counting. It could be implausible for a Mumbai-alien mind !

But just play with the thought that for 10 years you travel with the same set of people whose only claim to an equation with you is that they travel with you, days on end. Everyday. In the same compartment ! Friends who will know exactly how you smell at 6.34 PM, amongst the many such things!

There are legendary stories of fellow commuters who have shown up at home, after a train buddy Didn’t travel alongside for 10 days ! That your not turning up at the train station getting someone who is not your boss or a recovery agent from a credit card company announcing a search for you, is SOME thought in itself !

It is fascinating. To say the least.

The other day, the missus and me took a local train. Not that it’s a first experience for me. Yet..! A combination of off-peak time and direction, gave some space to wield the camera a bit ! Of course, having me do what most other foreign minds would do. Shake their heads in disbelief and awe.

You can call it overcrowded. Unbelievable. Cruel. Energetic. Passionate. Lifeline. Whatever ! One thing you cant do, is miss the trains in any conversation with a Mumbaikar ! Put two Mumbaikars in a room, and the chances that the conversation will veer around to the ‘local train’ is as good as turning on the TV during this world cup season and seeing Kapil Dev still getting interviewed about the 1983 world cup win !

Yeah. For sure.. ! Perhaps rightly so, in the case of the Mumbai locals! About the 25 year old win, well, lets change track !

11 thoughts on “On tracks !

  1. Neha says:

    local trains and stories..I have blogged about this too..as a Mumbaikar blogger, we all blog about it..just yesterday, a lady fell from the running train..she was in my compartment..it was a very tragic, sad and shocking scene to view, she was alive, don’t know in what state though..

  2. RGB says:

    Ah, everytime I think of Mumbai, I think of the local trains. The overcrowded compartments, people jostling around for space, pushing you in/out of the train if you’re in their way, doesn’t matter if you really intended to get in/out; If you happen to be seated, every other person asks you “kidher uthar rahe ho” so they can reserve the seat; Dadar is literally a sea of humanity with people running either which way, you will be forced to run with them; And such experiences that remain etched in my memories forever; These trains, they’re always on the dot; I used to be surprised how most people take the same train everyday (like a 8.43 am or a 7.05 pm…) and like you said become such good buddies! As for me, I used to wait for lesser crowded trains to hop in. I thought I would never fit in. But in a month’s time, I blended in.

  3. Friends who will know exactly how you smell at 6.34 PM, amongst the many such things!


    I have heard about Mumbai local trains a lot but never have a chance to travel in it.

    Thanks for sharing my URL on ur blog. I have written a blog to say thanks to u.

  4. Swatantra says:

    i loved the first picture you clicked..

  5. Priya says:

    I like the last picture. The first is little too dark Kavi.

  6. As they say, countries are run by Systems developed by humans. But India can be run only by one person, God. The Mumbai trains are a stark reminder of just that.

    It does not complete the story without mentioning the amazing Dabbawalas. Truly amazing and inspiring!!

    Kudos to the Mumbai spirit!!

  7. Carmi says:

    Thank you for this brilliantly rich glimpse into a world I’d previously only read about in Associated Press or Reuters wire dispatches.

    You have an amazingly rich way of painting things with your camera and your pen. I can almost feel like I’m standing trackside with you

  8. Insignia says:

    My mom would tell about the Mumbai locals and the swarm of people and chaos once in a while. She has had a scary experience as well when she was too late to board the train and it started. Anyway I have never visited Mumbai; but I do not know if I want to taste this.

    You wax eloquent Kavi, your description painted a picture of daily commute that I felt I was traveling in a local 🙂

    Pictures – the first one is fantastic. I was visualizing it in color with all those empty bottles and cans and plastic covers 🙂

  9. Jeevan says:

    Love the seed at last picture.

    I watched in a travel show about the mumai local train, it’s amazing to see how people moving along the bustle train and the dabbawalas carrying the trays on the heads. The easilest thing to think about mumbai is the local craowded train. I never have been on trains except couple of time that too 15 years ago.

    The train knocking incidents are also often in Chennai and most of the incidents report are talking in cell phone and crossing tracks. The people have become so busy and lazy these days to even take the elevation platform to cross tracks.

  10. Aleta says:

    Train Tracks and Bridges – two things I love to see in pictures. It’s the feeling of a destination, a path or an unknown course of action.

    Loved the pictures and the description of the Mumbai locals.

    I wouldn’t be one to go with the crowds though…

  11. sajeevkmenon says:

    The mumbai trains are the lifeline. The packed crowds, the card players, the ladies cutting vegetables, the singers, the dabba wallahs etc makes the train journey so lively!

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