Sunday, June 30, 2013

Trains, trains come again…

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…

"Zara hatke! zara bachke! yeh hein Mumbai meri jaan... "

Sorry for the delay in posting my whereabouts...

Still in the transition phase, so traversing safely and slowly here in Mumbai... ( "Zara hatke! zara bachke! yeh hein Mumbai meri jaan... " :-))

Lazy Calm Bangalore to Speedy Crazy Mumbai... IT City to City of Dreams... Boring IT work to interesting Water lectures. Namma Bengaluru to Aamchi Mumbai... Salubrious drizzles to Torrential cloud bursts... Guro to Bhau... Bisi Bele Bath & Khara Bath to Vada Pav & Pav Bhaji... City Volvos & BMTC buses to Local trains & BEST Buses... Employee to Student... Salaried spend thrift to Unemployed judicious spender...

TISS life going great, so far. Water Policy and Governance course comes under School of Habitat Studies. Thus after 7 years, back to school, with the same eagerness cum nervousness of a Kinder Garden student in the month of June. Heavy monsoon, new umbrella, sitting in class with drenched clothes, French Open and Wimbledon makes things even more eerie and similar. TISS campus has a lots of trees. Birds like bulbuls, magpie robins, sparrows, mynahs, crows, cuckoos have made it their home.

Bonnet macaques, dogs, cats and squirrels roam freely in the campus. They too have their rights in here and should not be shooed away. But few Homo Sapiens do murmur/feel irritated when these four legged friends try to socialize with them in the canteens.

I am the lone South Indian in the class of 12 (4 engineers, 2 BCAs, 1 Law Graduate, 1 Geologist, 1 architect, 2 Science Graduates -> 3 girls, rest all boys). About 12 classes each week, but lots to read before the lectures. Over last 2 weeks, introductory classes of Science, Law, Policy, Development, Financial, Philosophical aspects of water, were taught. Development, Science, Policy and Law classes are interesting. Financial course a bit tough. The class room strength varies from 800 students (when the whole batch is taught Philosophy, Research Methodologies at the Convention Centre), 100 students (Policy aspects taught along with other courses like Urban Policy, Regulatory Governance under the Habitat school) or 30 (Law taught along with Regulatory Governance course). This gives an insight of the inter-disciplinarity these courses offer. Plenty of people from varied streams and background.

A film by Sanjay Kak "Red Ant Dream" was screened last week. The director was present after the film for a talk. Had a small talk with Dr. Binayak Sen (had met him in Bangalore some 1 year back at Bangalore, so shared that experience), while both of us were searching for the room where this film was being screened.

The accommodation is quite near the campus. To make some sense as to how near, the TISS Wifi reaches our home . At Deonar Farm Road. Couldn't see any farm in and around. Seems the farms have been converted into apartments. The owner is one Sunil from Irinjalakuda. Rent: whopping 31000 per month. This will be divided among 6 of us. Out of 6 room mates, 3 dentists (who are into School of Health, out of whom one is an Angamalikkaran, one from Chandigarh, another from Jaipur). 2 others from Pune (one into Disaster Management course and another a TISS passout, working in Mumbai). Yet to get the rental agreement. Net connection needs to be installed(The TISS Wifi is too feeble and only one laptop can connect, at a time). Yet to take a Mumbai telephone connection.

IBM work is in tatters. Finding it difficult to sail with legs in "Randu Thonis"... Hope last day of my employment, July 30th comes soon and without much wrath from office.

Food: From TISS Dining Halls. As it is at any other educational place canteens, here too food taste varies from moderate to horrible. Curd/Buttermilk seems haraam in here. Soya curry which I ate yesterday was more of eraser put in some curry. Hope to influence my room mates with the idea of cooking food at least at night. Mani Chithappa/Pushpa Chithi prepared food provides reprieve during the weekends.

TISS surely is a social science paradise with its 40+ different disciplines. Have made friends with fellow students of Media and Culture, HR, Disability Studies, Disaster, Hospital Management, Women Studies, Tribal Studies, Social Work and of course many from my own Habitat school. A healthy population of people with varied background, from almost all states in India and also few from abroad.