Thursday, 8 March 2012

Fifty minutes on a Mumbai local train

8 March 2012
After settling myself again in Mumbai city where I was born and brought up, I commute like an average Mumbaikar. I am writing about it though it sounds like a subject of an essay given to a school student, especially because I assume that no school teacher would be happy reading what I am writing now. But now I am freed from them and can write something just for the sake of its ultimate pleasure found in the process.
I am out there in a Mumbai local train as I am not travelling anywhere in the country but on my regular commute to the office. “Oh! Shit!” I utter this, as I miss my supposed to be regular 8:07 am train to CST, just by a few seconds. I have to travel on 8:09 am train and go via Churchgate now. I get on the train and I get a window seat. These small things matter a lot and they are sufficient enough to make a commuter happy. But my disappointment and the words which I uttered are still lingering in my mind. I look out of the window and see what I had just uttered.
I find people, of course men, squatting at the sides of the railway line and defecating. “They do not have toilets and do not have other option,” I tell myself just to relieve myself from the bad mood that is being set. I just cant get it off as I again look outside to find slums that have encroached on the banks of Mithi creek. The train moves further. I see somewhere huge piles of rubbish and then it is followed by some patches of vegetables cultivated. I have already inserted the earphones in my ears and have started to listen to music to boost my mood into positivity.
Unfortunately the music is still not effective. I am very much Indian in the fact that I like to classify my music as per the suitability to the time of the day. The set of songs which I have put on turn out to be Marathi bhavageete, suited to an evening mood. The songs are either some love songs of lovers who are trying to convince their loved ones to come to them in the evening or some are completely pessimistic ones dealing with the people fed up with their sorrowful lives. I flip through the folder view of my mp3 player hurriedly since my journey would be over after 20 minutes. I find a folder with random collection of songs from Ghana. I had copied them, while I was in Ghana, from a number of individuals. It is good enough to get me out of this bad mood by at least taking me back to my good one year old days of overseas volunteering.
The songs start on high notes calling their favourite Yesu. Some of the songs were always played loudly on Sundays there. It brings in my mind the picture of the folks dressed in the best of their clothes, mostly having some white colour and perfectly ironed. All of them used to carry lively smiles on their faces while moving towards their church. It is a perfect happy go lucky Sunday morning mood I am experiencing though virtually.
I recall that I have a printout of an essay written by my boss. With the lively music in my ears and the long textual essay in my hand, I get engrossed in the music and reading simultaneously. I lose track of the externalities around me. The essay is about civic responsibility. I look outside occasionally now, I see ocean and then the hockey stadium with brand new astro turf. I reach my final destination. The ready made announcements in train, whom my son always calls as the virtual woman, declare the arrival of the train to the final station. My reading on civic responsibility is more than half way through and I have started to think about it. The man sitting next to me puts off the fan before alighting from the train. Such act is not normally shown by the civilians commuting on the train. I am also one of the average civilian and the act reminds me of one my responsibility.
I get down with the feeling of net positivity and set myself off towards my office. The spirit of Mumbai is also flowing through me.
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