Sunday, March 21, 2010

Taking the local train

- By Aishwarya Pramod

This year I started travelling by local train for the first time.

Throughout my school days, I'd been a princess going back and forth everyday by car, and this continued for the first few days of college as well. (In my defence, I never asked for the car. My parents insisted I be driven to college and back, honest!).

But then I felt the need to travel by local train, simply because I needed to have an option in case I could not go by car.

So I asked a classmate, who I knew lived close to where I lived, and she agreed to come with me to the station (V.T.) and show me which trains I could get on, and where to get off.

VT Station, from where my journey back home after college begins

View of station as we approach from my college

Subway entrance to get to VT Station

The train journey was very interesting the first time. In the compartment (Second Class Ladies) there were all sorts - fisherwomen chatting loudly, squatting at the entrance; college students, listening to music on earphones, burka-clad ladies and schoolgirls wearing headscarves.

Vendors selling chips, samosas, bhel puri and others selling clips, stickers, bangles, earrings got on. My friend and I looked at some earrings together.

A blind man got on, singing a devotional song and walked through the compartment. A woman followed him, holding a tin where people deposited coins.

It wasn't very crowded, and only a few people were standing in the compartment. Most of the others had places to sit, though in most cases 4 women were squeezed into a seat meant for 3.

The ones standing asked, "Kahaan utarna hai?" to the ones sitting. Where will you get off the train? The sitting ones told them where they would get off, and thus those standing reserved places for themselves after the ones sitting got off.

At Wadala Road, the station before mine (and hers), we got up and went to the door. At the next station we jumped off, and on the platform pulled free of a pocket of ladies trying to board the same train we had got off from.

It was time to walk home. My friend took the bus as she lived a little distance away. I was feeling confident about the train journey and looked forward to it the next day.

But immediately the next day, that girl didn't come to college. I was left to find my train on my own. I got onto the wrong train, and at Byculla station, I asked the lady next to me "Agla station GTB hai na?" (The next station is GTB, yes?)

She said, "Arre, yeh gaadi GTB nahi jaati. Utar jao, tumko waapas jaana hoga." (No, this train doesn't go to GTB; you better get off this train and go back)

I didn't know how to go back and what to do after that, but I didn't want to ask (I didn't want to look ignorant :P ... stupid, I know!). So I got off at the next station and took a taxi home, feeling pathetic.

But that was a long time ago. Now I'm more familiar with the trains. I can catch trains both on the Central line and the Harbour line, because my house is located near 2 stations - GTB Nagar and Sion.

Sometimes while travelling with friends, we take the General Compartment where both men and women are allowed to travel. We usually take First Class... I took the General Second Class Compartment once and I don't want to do it again (This involves an embarassing incident where I accidentally groped a man's chest - I was standing near the seat and I thought it was my bag but I turned around to find a very affronted-looking Sardarji. I mumbled a sorry and ran for the door. This only happened cos the Second Class Compartment was more crowded, and because I was talking to a friend and didn't concentrate on what I was doing!!).

First Class Compartment. Further down is Second Class, where you can see people hanging out of the door.

Many days when I've had to stay back late in college either because of lectures or other work, I prefer to take the train home, rather than asking the driver to wait. So that happens around two or three days a week. Now I also have a rail pass for the Central line - First Class.

I can't make any claims to be a veteran/seasoned commuter but after a year of college, I'm no newbie either!


Haddock said...

.....and to think, once upon a time there was III class too....

SoulSpace said...

Brings back so many memories...of course not train,
but traveling to and fro from college on buses...

Anuradha Shankar said...

I had similar experiences too when I began travelling by train.... and soon was an expert! Since then, I have always enjoyed travelling by local trains, no matter how crowded they were! and i even learnt crochet from my train companions!!! keep going and u will keep seeing something new and interesting!

Tamanna said...

Welcome to the club... Local train commuters are a cult in their own own right.. :)

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Anil P said...

It'll be an adventure, no doubt. But you will survive, and might even come to relish it for the memories it will leave behind.

Unknown said...

Travelling by trains in Mumbai for a 'train'ee is nothing short of an adventure.

I think you should consider a few tips:
1)Sling your bag the way the bus conductor does and hold close, avoids phone/bag loss. If you possess a high-end model, keep out of sight. Theft happens regardless of class.
2)At peak hours, wait for the crowd to pass before you climb the stairs - keeps eveteasers away
3) If you wear a dupatta or anything like that, don't allow it to flow loosely when you get on or off the train. Tie it around your arm. Keep it that way if you decide to stand at the door
4) Keep your hands free - no loose books, ipod, mobile phone, water bottle - only one hand to hold your bag close and the other for holding the bar.
5) When walking along the platform with your friends, do not stray close to the end of the platform. Hanging-out-of-door travelers are tempted to reach out and slap the less-alert-well-within-reach platform standee. It is one of those no-consequence-because-I-can't-be-caught-type of offences.
6) Do not under any circumstance travel in an empty compartment - if the compartment empties halfway through the trip, get off and jump into another one.

You'll get the hang of the routes over time - all the best. Hope I haven't scared you off. Take care.


Sam Walker said...

local train in mumbai had gone some really dangerous moment after bomb blast in mumbai, after this horrible incident most people in local avoid the journey of mumbai local train but as everyone knows life must go on
Book your cheap air tickets to india

NearFox Mumbai said...

Local trains are like life line of Mumbai, now the Railways are planning to have an ac local train, waiting for that eagerly.