As a Mumbaikar, the one thing that is probably capable of scaring a Lot of people, is travelling in “aamchi local trains”.
Even a person who adores Mumbai can admit that although local trains have proved to be a boon for day to day travel, the relentless battles that are fought everyday by millions of people for boarding a train or ascending from one, are quite cringeworthy.
Anyone who’s ever travelled in a ladies first class will also agree the elitist attitude of the so called upper middle class women in our city is at times unfathomable. You cannot touch someone’s hand or shoulder by the effect of a sudden jolt which is a usual occurrence in trains. Sitting on 4th seat? Welcome to 13 glaring eyes looking at you. Someone who apparently doesn’t ” appear” to be a person who could travel in first class is curtly shown the door on the next station. And they easily say that “the women in the other compartment fight and shout if something happens. Have no sense of civil conduct.”
Just yesterday when I was heading home from work, I witnessed a situation where a girl kept her bag and she probably by mistake or I don’t know if it was intentional, on another woman’s feet! Don’t know exactly what transpired later but even my noise cancelling Sennihiser earphones couldn’t stop their voices from being audible, leaving me as an eavesdropper to their heated conversation. No sooner than it started, they were speaking at the top of their voices, throwing abuses at each other and the men in the general compartment were having a gala time as spectators to the “cat fight”, as we all like to call it. And why only men? Even the other ladies were silently mocking these two females.
In this whole scenario, what really struck me is the evidence of the fact that no matter where you travel, we all are essentially the same. The only difference I could see between the so called elitist crowd and the others is that they haul abuses in English which makes them think that they are sophisticated than those who say the same things but only in local languages! Honestly, I was almost laughing to myself there and had to resist somehow, else I would have been on the receiving end of the stick this time 😂😜
While this is definitely the ugly side, there is something uniting too about train journeys. No other city in our country will have a concept of “train friends”. But in aamchi Mumbai people also have train friends apart from all their other friends. You can see them acting like a close knit group if you’ve travelled enough to see them daily. They’ll celebrate festivals in train, get sweets for each other, and of course they find someone where they can vent their emotions without any fear of being caught!
So no matter how much we detest travelling in trains because of the heat and the mad rush hours, we should be greatful for this invention that has made day to day commuting cheaper and convenient for millions of people. And also, remember that just like you, everyone is heading home at the end of a tiring day at work only to complete a few more chores at home and no one is really in the mood to argue or even has the energy, really. Let’s remember this and try to be more kinder.