Mumbai local train lines are divided into mainly three - Western, Central and Harbour lines. These are parallel lines and to reach a destination in another line, we need to change trains at few of the common stations. Malad comes in the Western Line, while Govandi, the stop near to TISS comes in Harbour Line. So to go from Malad to Govandi in train means I will have to change trains twice and thus travel in 3 trains. I usually get a train from Malad to Dadar(Western Line), then Dadar to Kurla(Central Line) and from there again another train to Govandi (Harbour Line). There is another way the number of trains traveled can be reduced to two, but that doesn't seem to be time efficient. Hence I usually take this three train approach. This non availability of a straight train had compelled me stay at a place near to TISS, though the expenses are more. I had been in Malad at my aunt's house last whole week owing to the need of Internet to do my IBM work. This made me travel to and fro TISS in the local trains of Mumbai and experience the rush hours, both in the morning and in the evening. Trains come and leave almost every 5 minutes at any station, up country or down. People bulging out of the trains are a usual scene during these hours. Some seem to love this as it is airy than the suffocating insides.
Mumbai train commuting has made me spell bound, to say the least. Mumbai is the densest city in over populated India and the local trains in here are even denser. By far it might be the most efficient public transport system available in this world. Not only because these trains run on time and ticket charges are less but also because of the fact that it is used to its maximum capacity by the people. The train charges and nil blocks are perhaps the main reason why people opt this service even if they need to fight it out everyday with other people. Rains do reduce the time efficiency, with cancellation of services especially in the Harbour Line, but that doesn’t dent these services being the life line of Mumbai. All varieties of crowd can be seen in a jam packed train if we go at 9:00am. From college/school students, fish sellers, IT professionals, Bank Staffs, blind, deaf, differently-abled, wannabe directors, actors, all have made this part of their life. There are two types of services – Fast and Slow. Fast trains stop in few of the main stations, while slow trains stop in all stations. During rush hours, there is a heavy demand for faster trains. Each train has compartments meant for ladies, differently abled, first class and general. There are 12 compartment trains as well as 9 compartment ones. Moreover there are some trains exclusive for ladies.
All railway stations I felt as neat and tidy, as per our Indian standards. All the railway stations have food joints, where they serve all Pav varieties, Lime, Orange, Kokam juices and other namkeens. The next train timing can be seen in the platforms and also the speaker blare moments before any train come, as to which time it is of and where it is bound to.
You need to be fast, furious and more over physically and mentally agile in case you need to get into a crowded train. I am more of a safe traveler, who prefers to miss the train rather than clunging on to it. Being a bit fat commuter in Mumbai is a crime, especially if you are traveling in the local train. Anyways even if you are fat and manage to get inside, you will be squeezed to the portion allotted to you. Carrying a baggage again is considered an offense and in case you have one, it has to be within the space allotted to you by others. Most compartments have the station indicator installed, which blare out before every station reached. “Poodil station Malad followed by Agala station Malad“. The train stops for roughly 20 seconds in each of the stations. But as a matter of fact, it is advisable to make your way to the exit 2 stations before, in case you want to get down. Twice or thrice I have missed the station, simply because I had not prepared to get out well in advance. In any case verbal abuse is sure. Verbal abuse in various languages, you will get to learn in a crowded train. There is virtually no regards to people who are differently abled kid or a woman, but better I don’t generalize all.
Rains + Trains = Pains in Mumbai. As mentioned above, trains run late in case there is heavy rain. Moreover people become more frenzy and aggressive. Even if it is an empty train, the crowd has developed the habit of mad-rushing into the train.
Just mentioning a recent “decent” conversation between two fellow commuters to give an idea of how the trains are interconnected to the everyday life (& perhaps death) of people in here. Though I couldn't see any of them, found the conversation interesting. It was the one which I heard as the train started from Malad. It was raining and I too rushed inside the train from Malad railway station like many others. A person was hanging out of the train, getting drenched in rain outside and this conversation was between him and a sympathetic person inside.
Man Inside: Arrey, kyun aise latak ke aa rahe ho? Agale train pakad saktha tha naa, thu?
Man Hanging: Kaam keliye dher ho rahi hein. Is train choot gaya tho, late ho jayegi… Kaam choot jaayegi phir…
Man Inside: Train choot gaya tho, late ho jayega ya kaam choot jaayegi, uthna hi, yadhi thera hath choot gaya tho zindagi choot jayegi…