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 !
If you hang around there for a while and look with an ordinary eye, you will see dots emerge in sequence. Dots in proportion. Dots in synchrony and symmetry.
Of course, you can immediately sense that is maths in action. Yes. Math ! 8 dots. 16 dots. right angles. symmetry. Etc etc !
In some time, the fine white flour that went into making of the dot slips through the fingers to form simple, straight lines. Straight lines that would look like those drawn with a scale !
In a jiffy the lines become curves. The curves become U turns, with the dot in he middle ! Sharp curves that would get a F1 champ’s adrenalin going.
The lines and curves form a seamless symmetry of art on the floor. A dash here. A dash there. A curve now and then. Suddenly there is a piece of visual delight on the front yard !! Coming to think of it all, to get out of bed at 5.00 AM is something. To get to the courtyard is something else. And then, to alternate between gymnastics and mathematics with ease, is stuff that is beyond me. To do it everyday is super human.
It took me an effort to locate the camera and shoot ! My mom looked bemused and surprised. Initially at my interest, giving me ‘Ah, whats so great about it’ look !
A while later, the household help came in and added some of her own designs and a dash of colour !
Seems i was pretty close ! My mom orchestrates them to do the ballet on the front yard
On Mumbai’s marine drive, theres an exhibition thats on. Awesome. Is the word. Its titled ‘ Earth from Above‘. A series of stunning photographs. A collage from up above.
The setting is perfect too. With the Arabian sea on one side and a bustling army of cars, bikes and people to provide the contrast, on the other.
Perfect time to look at the big picture. The pictures are work of a creative mind at its best.
Talking of creative human minds, there is more to be done. Whatever are those scientist folks doing ? With all those gadgets and goatees that, whatever are they doing ?
Especially, for cases like this one. Read on.
An apartment complex that is home to a myriad set of people. Like…Hmm.. educated from the best of universities the world can offer. The best of designations the corporate world can conjure.
Cars that can swallow the economy and bank accounts that seem perpetually overflowing. Computers that run the household and household helps who pay obeisance to the family dog.
All in all, if this set of people were reduced to a single drop of petrol, they could keep an empty fuel tank power a world trip. Twice. That kind of power. You get the drift… ?
That type of an apartment complex. And this was the announcement on the notice board !
But where do they start ? What work can science do, when common sense and basic sensitivity go on exile.
Perhaps these are the signs of our times. A time for extremes. New frontiers get broken as new inventions hit the market at speeds that only the sun tries to compete with.
New markets get created, as existing land disappears. A time when the Internet brings us all closer even as we as people get divided further.
A time, when those that coast in luxury are epitomes of ‘uncivil’ and the actions of the ‘educated’ take us back a few hundred years.
A time where the beauty of the Earth from the sky is only contrasted by our actions on the ground ! Actions, that which we inflict on one another and on ourselves too.
The opportunity to keep our Earth pristine is omnipresent. The choices are ours to make. And in this apartment’s case, the choice starts with the dustbin !