There is much talked and heard about Mumbai local trains in movies, serials and in exaggerated words of Mumbai returned people. They say its the heart of the Mumbai. I don’t know how true it is though at least 60% of mumbaikers depend on them for their daily travel. Through my experience I can tell its the best and fastest way to get taste of Mumbai’s vivid culture.
For the one like me, who is from the place where people are fancier about luxury travel even for local transportation (like dual TV screens, GPS system, Electronic ticket printing and ‘velvet’ seats 😉 in buses), travelling in Mumbai through general public transportation feels like going back to 19th century. Here buses have a monotonous shape: a long rectangular cube with tyres attached, and conductor signals the driver through a bell connected along the bus through a nylon wire (This is far better than blowing whistles). Even except few new trains introduced, interiors of all the locals have a retro look. Seems like people here are more concerned about time than looks. Sometimes which is very irritating though. I will explain why..
Just to explain how hurry the mumbaikers are, take an example of crowd inside and outside the local train. Though usually there will be enough time for the passengers to get down from the train and for others to get inside the train there will always be a fight, exchange of words, pushing every time a station comes. Seems like people enjoy the act. If you want to get into or get down from a train you just need to stand near the door, crowd will take care of rest of the things. We friends here used to look at each others conditions once after getting down from the train in our rare Marine drive visits from Thane and used to laugh at each other. Its a whole different scenario in buses, which are usually overcrowded that most of the time you get to land only one foot of yours properly in position. In between all the crowd, there will be some middle aged aunties who stare at you suspiciously if you provide a little discomfort for them even in that unmanageable crowd. I still don’t understand about one thing here, not specific to Mumbai but everywhere I have seen people are always in hurry to get down the vehicle, and they stand near the door, or just next to their seat well before the stop comes, though they are very sure that driver will not move on until everyone gets down. What’s the point in simply standing near the same place where they were sitting? how much time they can save by this? Same kind of crowd can be seen in movie theatre as well. as soon as they come to know that movie is coming to end they start to move towards exit causing discomfort to others who wants to watch the movie till the end. And the funniest part is these people will stop near the exit door until the movie ends. This act is very well shown in this Ad. (Note: I don’t have any intention to provide advertisement for Reliance ppl. But Ad is good ;-))
And one more interesting things about local train journey is about the things people sell inside the train and near stations. Even though trains are tightly packed like you wont get enough space to turn your head, these sellers manage to make their business in the crowd. They sell variety of things like maths formula book, peppermint, toys, massager etc etc. I really don’t know how much profit they will get at the end of day, and people like me get paid in thousands just for hitting the keyboard, making a little use of what we have learned in 16 academic years to do what we proudly call ‘Coding’..