I still remember my visits to Mumbai( then Bombay) as a child, with my parents and my brother. Those were the few occasions every year when we paid visit to the town for shopping, movies and the most important of all, the Bandra Fair( the Mount Mary Feast). The most exciting part of the trip was the journey by the local train from virar. I still remember how we would run from the ticket counter behind our parents, just in time to catch the train. We would fight for the window seat( yes we surely used to get window seats in those days), which would end up with him winning the seat for most of the journey.
But times change, and the mumbai local train surely has endured the changes. For one, its has been subjected to the acts of nature in form of natural calamities and the acts of human destruction in the form of terrorism. It has witnessed the deaths of many people due to human errors in form of accidents. I still remember the fatal evening in the year 1994, when many women lost their lives in an incident involving the ladies special train. And also the very recent serial bomb blast in the july of the year 2006.
There may be no end to it. But this doesn’t mean that it put a stop to the lives of people. May be this is the only option available for commute. But as I travel in the trains today, I see the common man, managing to find a foot-space in the already overcrowded boogie. And he manages to undertake this journey, which sometimes lasts more than two hours, standing on one foot.
The common man prespires and tires up easily in the heat of poorly ventilated trains, but his desire to reach his destination doesn’t allow him to give up. And there is always humanity present in the trains. I see many a times, elderly people and women being given preference for seating. Water is not considered a personal property, no matter whose bottle it is. And keeping self busy in some for or the other during the journey, normally is the priority with everyone. Maybe a quick game of sudoku, some music, a book for reading or even movies on mobile are common methods of “timepass”. Everyone gives full consideration for everyone else. Though occasional spats on the issue of space at the door, are not an uncommon thing.
This is life, life in the mumbai local trains. Which refuses to bow to any hurdles it faces. And it keeps on going, from 3.30 in the morning till late in the night. Without so much as a stop for a quick breathe. A salute to the commuters who endure this travel. A salute to the motormen of these trains, who stay alert through out the entire journey.
A salute to the spirit of the mumbai locals.