Mumbai locals, a much cliched topic in a Mumbaikar’s life! Nearly everyone has at least once traveled in the cramp packed ‘life-line’ of Mumbai.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the trains are more like a battle field! You have to charge inside bellowing your battle cries “chala chala laukar uttra” ( alight fast) or “andar jao na!” (Go inside). And likewise you have to be armed with your strong will, your elbows and anything and everything that might help you to cut your way across the ‘enemy line’ (people who are standing in the door to alight at the next station).
The local trains have developed their own set of norms. And mind you, you have to adhere to them if you want to survive the journey. Here are the Ten Commandments of the Mumbai locals:
#1 You cannot board the train with big and heavy luggage during the peak hours. If you do..May the Almighty protect you!
#2 As soon as you have entered start asking around for a seat even if it means that you may have to shake awake any person peacefully sleeping ( most of the times they feign sleeping so don’t really feel that bad, it is a necessity).
#3 You cannot occupy the seat which you have so religiously reserved for yourself. The honour of that seat, ipso facto, goes to person sitting next. You have to sit (if there is enough space) on the 4th seat.
#4 Once you get a seat by the Lord’s grace, you are the self proclaimed ruler of that space! And you can literally make all the important decisions concerning your precious “throne”!
#5 No matter what the others say, it is your “regular train traveler” right to ‘teach’ a lesson or two to the fellow passenger on how to sit, stand, board, alight, tie hair, carry the bags and etc (believe me the list is endless)
#6 No matter how crowded the train is the sellers are always welcomed. And mind you they can cut across the streams of people very easily, so if you are a newbie follow them!
#7 Do not be too pricey, if you are, you would be instantly ‘advised’ to travel by the first class. Likewise do not ask for a 4th seat in the first class for you would be asked to travel by second class. (Frankly I see no difference, both are equally hell-ish)
#8 There is always an on going debate on which of the ‘line’ is better. And even if you have, at times, absolutely loathed your ‘line’, you have to defend it against the other lines. And as a rule you have to refer it as ‘humare Central/ Western/ Harbour mein’ (in our Central/ Western/ Harbour), and compare it with the rest.
#9 A new trend! You can reserve for yourself a ‘standing place’ near door. It apparently helps you to get safety passage to get off the train and also is a successful way to create apocalypse in the door way. (One thing I have always noticed: the trains are pretty empty inside, the wars are waged by mentally unfortunate fellows passengers who, for some absolutely nonsensical reasons, have to crowd the door way)
#10 Now pay close attention! If you have to get down at your station safely, then you should start at least two stations prior. Then and only then can you get down! However I, myself don’t get going until the train pulls into the station. (But then I get down at Mulund by a Thane train. So I have the liberty to do that.)
Abide by these commandments of the Mumbai local and you will live to tell the tales!
These, however, hold true only for the Ladies compartments. My dad tells a different story, a story of an organised and civilized parallel universe of men!