Teachings from “Mumbai Local Trains” I World’s Busiest Railway

Good evening everyone and welcome once again
to Wacky Wednesday. Wondering why I am saying Good Evening instead
of Good Morning as I usually do?? Well because today is a special day. Today is 14th of August. On 15th of August 1947, 73 years back, India
awakened to freedom and 14th of August was that special eve when everybody was eagerly
waiting to throw away 300 years of British rule and welcome freedom. So I decided today is the best day to pay
a tribute to my ‘Janma Bhoomi’ my ‘MatruBhoomi’ my ‘Bharat Ma’ . Specifically to its entertainment,
media ,financial and fashion capital?…you guessed it right!!! MUMBAI. I grew up in Mumbai so I am going to share
the lessons I learned as I crisscross through this city of contrasts on its trans island,
local trains. Locals as we BOMBAIYA call them. The local train taught me many a lesson, just
like the river taught siddarth , but in the little topori (rustic way). So the first lesson that the local taught
me was to be punctual, In Mumbai everything moves by the minute, so if you miss your 7.22am
Church gate fast, well, you miss your friends, you miss the singing that you were going to
do with your friends, you miss the ‘Antakashri’ you miss the game that was left unfinished,
you miss the bindi walli or tickly wali, who was going to get you that special tickly for
the weekend, you reach and miss that connecting bus, so you reach a place of work or school
or office late. So everything is to the minute, so you dash
up the ladder as you climb up the bridge and you run and wade through the ocean of humans
to land exactly in front of your dabha or your compartment and then you use precision
and strategy as you eye_ that special seat in that special compartment as the train comes
in you pick up speed and in jump in, even before the commuters come out and get it wade…
in through the sellers and find your exact seat. huh!!!! I’ve got my priced seat. Once having got your priced seat, what do
you do?? Well you do give it away…. Mumbai effortlessly teaches you sharing is
caring….. So four seater becomes a six-seater a seven-seater
and sometimes even an eighth seater, when people sit on each other’s lap, so we learn
instinctively that “If there is place in her heart, then you can make space anywhere, even
in that jam packed little compartment and mind you there are no placards, no signs nothing
that tells you to do this. You just learn it as you get along the way. The trains also taught me that sometimes you
may need reach late in spite of all your efforts, then what do you do, sit there and cry for
an lost opportunity, no you just pick up speed and you run after the train and then take
a leap of faith, as long as you are able to hold onto bar or reach a toe inside the compartment
,call it God, call it destiny, some strong benevolent hands will come and pull you in
the compartment, but a word of caution here, this stunt is only for sadakchap seasoned
Mumbaikers. Don’t try unless you’ve been seasoned. Well, Mumbai teaches you ‘Faith’. Mumbai also teaches you that sometimes you
may not get the seat, so you are standing there packed as sardines, grooving to the
rhythm of the train as she moves, that time you learn to lift your vision from the mundane
mediocre to that which is important. To look above the tovering heads to the blooms
that you see on the trees is outside the train. The purple flowers or the nice yellow blooms
of the cassia. To lift your mind on the wings of the imagination
into the blue sky with its white clouds.Till date If anybody asked me what do I remember
as I travel to the train, I can remember all those blooms and the blue sky with its white
clouds, it was beautiful ,of course there is sweat of course there is grime around,
after all the world largest slum is here and that’s okay that too is humanity and you learn
to take it in your stride. Yes, Mumbai taught me to go beyond the exteriors,
I hear my teenage kids talking about inclusivity these days, in that small little compartment,
as we loved, as we smile, as we cried and shared each other’s sorrows and joys. We were not aware of caste, creed, religion,
color nothing at all , we were just one big bhelpuri, happily traveling in the local. It’s when I flew out of my country and came
out of Mumbai, I realized, oh! my God, there is so much distinction and division among
my countrymen, back in Mumbai I wasn’t aware of it. I was aware of cutting chai and of course
my vada Pav. That’s what was joy. Then Mumbai also taught me to see beyond the
exterior into a person’s heart . When I traveled alone on those lonely compartments at night
coming home from a clinic, the prostitutes and the trans women ,eunuchs , chakas as we
call them in Mumbai, protected me from the pricing eyes of horny men. I realized that it’s not the exterior that
defines you, it’s much more than that. You are who you are in your inside, on that
note I would like to thank the LOCALS for giving me so much knowledge to me to make
me resilient, to teach me this never give up attitude, never die attitude which till
date stands me in the stead. On that note, I would like to say Salaam Bombay,
namaste Mumbai mere Jaan, Jai Hind, Jai Bharat, Thank You!!

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