The day starts as early as 4am for the Mumbai local trains. The Mumbai local barely manages a 3 hour sleep. I feel sorry for it. Given the way it devours more than half of Mumbai’s population into its compartments; it surely needs more rest. Does it not? The Mumbai local is a legend in itself, easily counted as one of the foremost things you must experience in the bustling metropolis. I had been a Mumbaikar (or rather a Bombayite as I still prefer to let Bombay remain Bombay) for two years and yes, the locals had been a way of life for me.
Rarely anywhere else do you find such meager value for human life. Thousands of nameless, faceless human beings crowd the locals and travel through days and nights to multiple destinations across Mumbai. A first-timer is certain to feel daunted. Take it or leave it but don’t hang midway. Yet more often than not, it turns out to be effortless. You stand there still and then the impact of a dozen or so people behind you automatically sucks you into the bulging stomach of the compartments. If you are unlucky enough (as I have been at times) to be carrying luggage, make sure that you flash that pretentious smile to your co-passengers. Be not surprised to find someone else’s hands tucking into your shirt or your body. . They are not gay and it is purely a matter of chance! Somehow, the locals truly reflect the very essence of Bombay. They are a test of the phrase “survival of the fittest”. If you devote yourself completely to your vocation here, Bombay will repay you richly. Hard work runs through every vein of maximum city.
The locals here are a sharp contrast to their counterparts in Bombay. Given that the local trains in Tokyo are technological marvels and the Bombay locals are still enmeshed in the colonial era, nevertheless, there’s something amiss here — that is called emotions.
For the ultimate experience, try catching the Churchgate-Virar fast, the mother of all locals. Amateurs may need to be on high alert. Once you settle down, the magic unfolds. Each face tells a story in itself. Be it the usual office-goer, or the couple managing to gaze into each other’s eyes despite the commotion, or the laborer cribbing about his pay, or the woman fearfully carrying her infant in her arms, Mumbai indeed is a hotbed of unlimited diaspora. Friendships are forged, professional networks are strengthened and dreams are rekindled. The city paints many different hues each day that the next moment seems so refreshingly different. If you have a taste for all things Indian, you cannot but fall in love with Bombay….
P.S: Fast forward to Tokyo, Japan. The child is grown. The dream is gone now. The locals here are a sharp contrast to their counterparts in Bombay. Given that the local trains in Tokyo are technological marvels and the Bombay locals are still enmeshed in the colonial era, nevertheless, there’s something amiss here — that is called emotions.