Agla Station- Andheri

“Are aat chalaa, evdhi zagaa aahe aat madhe” yells a lady dressed in traditional Navvari sari about to get into the 9.06 A.M train to Churchgate. This was at Platform no. 2 at Malad Station, one of the most dreaded place if you want to get into the Mumbai local.

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All dressed up in a Yellow Navvari and bedecked with matching jewels, she was just babbling sweetly, on top of her voice, which made everyone turn our heads to see what was happening. Apparently she could not find a place for herself inside the compartment. But she was determined to make it BIG. “Abhi andar jagah nahi hai to banao na.. Aap jagah nahi banaoge aur train chala jaega to ham to station par hi reh jaenge na. Samjha na madam..kai tumhi pan” she continued in fluent Marathi.

This made me smile.This was heights of positivity and Belief…Seeing ample space inside a compartment where there was none is TOO much optimism. I couldn’t see any space. Nor could anyone else.But somehow she could. People adjusted and cringed and made this lady reach at a safety point so that she could stop blabbering. { Already dealing with lack of space,they were sure of losing their hearing ability if the lady had gone on her ranting spree }. 10 mins later,the lady had won.

This is a typical scene inside the Mumbai Local, which everyone faces regularly. It depends from person to person as to how he wants to deal with it. Either curse your way through it, or diplomatically tackle all that comes your way. Koni maarke ghuso, ya fir laat maarke Sorry bolo. Simple.

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Learning about life lessons in the LIFELINE OF MUMBAI!

 

The train waits at each station for about 30 seconds where, needless to say, people have to be at their quickest. Those few seconds are like a matter of life and death for each commuter..atleast when it comes to places like Kandivali and Malad.. Concentration and focus is all directed towards “How the hell do I get in and get that 3rd or 4th seat after passing through a barely see-able door? Next train to Bandra ki hai.” 

People busy catching up with friends or work on a call,are asked to maintain the phone on hold.Just for that precious moment. A relative effort is made by people to warn others on a call. What if they, like the others don’t end up getting into the train on time, due to this moron who is catching up on his relatively unimportant news?.

Also there is always a risk of that expensive footwear coming out of your “Komal Charan” due to this irritating lady who could step on you. These are one of those small things you need to take care of before you get into THAT train. Adjusting your “n” no. of bags, prepping your hair for a no nonsense event so that it doesn’t fall into someone’s eyes or mouth, prepping for the momentum when the train arrives and matching it by getting into the train, just seconds before it stops on the station is another Sabak of Planning and Management. You don’t need tips on How to Survive. Just get into a 8.55 A.M train at Dahisar and survive the way ahead till Churchgate. Repeat for 2-3 days. You will learn surviving and a few Gaalis along the way for free.

From Marriage to the Mumbai Local, you need to know EXACTLY what you are getting into. Period.

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Now however impossible it seems to get into any local, once you are out of the train, ALIVE, the happiness knows no bounds. Happiness levels, post alighting  are directly proportional to the amount of rush you found inside the compartment. This is an even exhilarating experience if you are going to get down at Dadar or Kurla during peak hours. Travel through peak hours and the joy of making it to your destination in proper clothes, without any wear or tear in those expensive “Raymonds” formals is a different joy altogether.

“Next station Andheri. Agla station Andheri. Pudhil station Andheri” goes the recorded voice, which is so easy to imitate.

It’s been 6 years since I started travelling by the local trains.

Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to not have any Central and Harbour line encounters where there is always an uncertainty of trains coming on time or random trains getting cancelled. But yea, this is an entertaining affair for most of us. Vendors selling everything from Cute Pouches,to fancy cheap stationary, Kapda, Bhel wala Snacks,Cosmetics, have found a moving roof over their head and a ready to be entertained audience at their disposal. Just when you are bored with minding your own business and can’t entertain yourself anymore, you look left and then right, peep at the scenery outside and try to figure out the next station and then go back to staring at your neighbors.

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Eunuchs are a common sight in the locals. Old school passengers usually pass a buck or two as a way of showing support. Though I have myself seen her many times, Photo credits to the lovely Anushree Fadnavis.

Most commuters are lost in their own sweet world whereas some of us look for a type of comfort in the “midst of the unknown crowd and an expected but-can-be-unexpected-kinda-journey”. I like observing people and judging them according to their actions on their journey, though I’m no one to judge. But even if I do, I’m sure it won’t make a difference to them. So why not. Like:

Lady A was amusing. Sitting uncomfortably  on the fourth seat, covered in a flamingo printed scarf and Ray Ban Aviators, her makeup free face barely visible, she clicked a series of selfies, and started editing it to make it as a profile picture on Whatsapp! (So jobless)

Lady B is busy reading a personalized version of Mahabharat (Like Wow), while the business oriented Lady C reads “MODI fied government appoints EY as their election auditor”.

Lady D was covered from top to bottom in a Black Burkha, sitting on the third seat for a while. I had casually glanced at her when I entered the train at Borivali and now she was getting up to leave, since the train was reaching Jogeshwari. Suddenly Lady E, who boarded with me at Borivali and had been talking on her iPhone since then to her dear “Jaaduu Maadu” ( loving term of endearment for her significant Fat partner) excitedly screams, “Ayy Laila, Hiiiiii“. This Lady D on the third seat has just got a jolt. 3 seconds later, she replies, “Arre Divya!! Kaisi hai? Tum itne der se mere baju me baithi thi and apne ko pata hi nahi Chala”

And then the whole loud exclaimatory conversation starts. And it goes on for a minute, before this Laila is ready to say Bye for the 3rd time. Thanks for leaving lady, coz of you I got a seat!

After looking at all the faces, and 10 pages of Hussain Zaidi’s “My Name is Abu Salem”  I am about to get down at Mumbai Central. And when I did, there was another amusement waiting for me. Movie posters put up on the stations are normal. But this was not.

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Why on earth?

(Lack of creativity – No doubt. And I’m sure the story has got nothing to do with this particular Station. But seriously,  WHY?)

As I walk to towards the exit point at the station in the hope of catching a bus to Worli, I watch some Dabbawalas sorting dabbas carefully amongst themselves. They have a promise to fulfill  – deliver food on time via The Local Train. Another profession supported due to the Mumbai Local. (I have tremendous respect for these guys thanks to my recent experience of interacting with an imminent personality,  Dr. Pawan Agrawal, an International Speaker of the Dabbawala community)

As I think about what I have in store for today,a tons of things start flashing in my head like a slideshow. Partner review. Client meeting. Pending lists. Blah blah blah..In the middle of all-this I find a steady queue for polishing up shoes. That’s a profession with a ready audience too. Never thought about that too seriously.

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I ponder as to how much the Mumbai trains are absolutely the lifeline of Mumbai. It is a daily test of Courage, Patience, and a Kicckk that you occasionally need in life. Also it’s not just a lifeline because millions of people travel through the train daily but also because it’s a livelihood for so many people in Mumbai. Using the trains maybe an option for some of you out there, but for the others, it’s a BIG PART of life. And Yes, I love it!

Ever wondered  as to why a train waited a minute longer than usual on say a random day? It’s probably a drunk man in some compartment against whom a complaint has been put up on one station, and who has been carried away by a police man on the next station. Or it’s probably some gang of ticket collectors making a fuss about why you have entered into the Handicapped compartment when your rightful place is in the Second Class Dabba. 

screenshot_20170114-0034242 A recent initiative at the Local Stations.

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14 thoughts on “Agla Station- Andheri

  1. Loved the detailing. It was like sitting on the train and watching the co-passengers. I’ve experienced boarding a Mumbai local from Malad and, I know how it feels! It’s like winning a big battle and coming out of it even without a scratch, provided you can shove yourself into a compartment πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

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