Preface:Bombay, the maximum city... The city of innumerable dreams, immense possibilities, unlimited growth and an uncountable population! The same city that on one side gives space for numerous dreams to unfold, on the other side becomes more congested than ever. There is only one way left for Bombay to grow - skywards, that is! So what keeps this unimaginably huge city moving? It is its famed local trains. Here is a small episode from that never ending journey of wheels, a small dedication from me to the lifeline of Bombay...
This blog will strike a chord in a hearts of few and terror in the hearts of few others! Yup, traveling in Bombay by the local train (henceforth referred as local) is a very nighmarish nightmare. Discovery channel says the train coaches in India are designed to carry 1500 people at a time. Although, during peak hours Bombay locals carry more than 4000 in a single coach! Hold on, this is not some optimization concept or fail safe testing but a helpless situation. If you have to come to send off someone, you better stay as far away as possible from the tracks. Otherwise you will be ushered into the train by the enthusiastic(!) junta. If unfortunately two trains come simultaneouly on both sides of the platform, its a high probability that you will find yourself on one of those trains. We recommend carrying an extra minimum travel ticket. Just in case. You also have the option of standing on the foot bridge itself and waving to your dear ones. Just to be safe. But neither will you know where they are nor will they know who is waving to them! But that is a different issue altogether, and let us not get in to it. So much said, now get ready to take an exciting ride from Kalyan to Kanjurmarg in a 0615 local!
The scene is set when I was returning to NITIE from home after vacations. My train had 3 stops in Mumbai - Kalyan, Dadar and CST, in that order. To reach NITIE from any of those stations I had 2 options. 1. Take a local to the nearest station and travel by auto for the remaining part 2. Take an auto all the way. Part of my biography reads four glorious years at Chennai. So local trains are not at all novel to me and I decided to take option 1. Moreover only option 1 does justice to what I call myself, an explorer. Both my engineering and managerial brains agreed that I have to get down at Kalyan. Thats because Kalyan is a terminus I can easily get a seat on a train. Also I will have to come back along the same track if I go to Dadar. So I got down at Kalyan and waited for the train that will take me to Kanjurmarg, the nearest station to NITIE. FYI the time was 6.00 am.
And slowly came an empty train. But, how the hell? Before I could pick my luggage all the seats were occupied and by the time I got on to a compartment, it was full. I had to make myself comfortable(!) near the doors of the compartment. That was the only empty space available :( It was an early morning train and it had to be free. So I asked a fellow passenger, 'is it always this crowded?' He replied, 'ya, this train will mostly be this free' OMG... :O All I could do was utter under my breath, WTF! Yeah, there I was standing in a train, at the starting station, at 6 am, so crowded that I couldn't even move properly! Can it get any better? Actually it did. I had already worked out when Kanjur will come(Thanks to Google!) and so I was a little bit happy. Some time later my fellow passenger asked me where I need to get down. When he heard Kanjur he said, 'Kanjur is just 2 stations away. You got luggage, you better start moving. Or you won't be able to get down.' Are you kidding me? I am 22 years old. How long is it going to take me to move from one end of the compartment to another, huh? Unfortunately he was right and fortunately I could get down at Kanjur with all my luggage intact and laptop in single piece. They say an experience is worth a hundred lessons. The lesson for me that day? Read epilogue :)
Traveling in Mumbai, especially by local trains, is neither a science nor an art. Its a war! And you, learn from my mistake!
Of all the 24 hours available in a day I chose to write this blog at 4 am. Yeah my biological clock has gone haywire. Nowadays it seldom shows sleep. I am not just another insomniac. I have become an insomaniac! More about insomania in the next post. Stay tuned...
Its me signing off, ladies and gentlemen. Good night. Or should I say good morning? Whatever... :)