Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ode To Bombay - Part 1

There are certain things that Bombay-ites do that are so typical of them. And this typical Bombay-like behavior extends to every aspect in life, right from travelling (oh, the “locals”), being a “townie”, eating out, hitting the “suburbs”, being in “FYJC”(for all us non-bombay-ites that’s First Year Junior College), being star struck, living in “spacious” pigeonholes (paying a bomb for rent), to chilling at the “sit-out” area of any joint rather than in the air-conditioned section no matter how humid the weather is.
I’d rather divide my woes in parts and narrate it aspect-wise. To begin with, Travelling by the local trains in Bombay can teach you lessons of life that no religion or art of living classes could. Church gate station has to be a land mark in the lives of all travelers across bombay. You could find all kinds of people in the same predicament as yours and you consider the local train "empty" when you find a spot for your two feet to stand on. As soon as the announcement is made as to what kind of train is arriving, they would position themselves exactly where they predict that the train would stop (They would more often than not, make the perfect prediction with this). They would rush into a train the moment it hits a platform, irrespective of how many people already occupy that coach. There is always more space “created” by pushing or squeezing people inside. And not to mention the people who travel with clinging on to windows, doors or any part of the train they could hold onto, as well some of them who travel on top of the train. If the Singaporeans ever saw that we not only travel in trains without automated doors, or announcement and safety systems, but we also travel with clinging on to the teeny-weeny bit of door we could hold onto and could fall into the tracks when someone would as much as breathe out, they would probably have a cardiac arrest right away.
If someone who got in would not have a place to sit and they invariably wouldn’t, they would question with all the authority, all the people seated as to where they were to get off, and would “reserve” that seat with typical hand gestures, first pointing at themselves and then the seat. Gosh!!! Catfights over the silliest of issues are an everyday affair. People would travel by the train and would expect comfort levels of an air craft. They would start tsk-tsk-ing if you as much as nudged them or stepped on their foot unintentionally. As the train nears its destination, the passengers would start peeping out to keep a watch for which platform it would halt at, so they are right at the door when it halts and don’t miss a single jiffy. They would instinctively know and sometimes it would be much before the driver himself would, as to where the train would halt. At that precise moment every single person occupying that coach would swiftly turn to face the door almost as if bound by a spell. They would leave late for work, but would more than make up for lost time with squeezing into a really crowded train, pushing their way through, and positioning themselves right at the door of the coach right when the train halts.
And like the observation goes, in any particular area in Bombay, if there were a line of people walking as though with a purpose, more often than not, they are headed towards the nearest station!!


Anonymous said...

How true,can't express the connect I felt with this piece, being a non-bombayite myself.Bombay the city of opportunities...3 cheers for mumbayya spirit.

M as in Mint said...

haha! Ode?! perhaps Devang Patel style! :) for someone who's never been there, the train ishtory quite overloads huh! :) ever tried the chennai rail?? :) they run on the 'roads less travelled' routes! haha! you should try it next time...perhaps, we could do it together to have a retake of our bus trip to porur; am sure we'll have an uber gala time! give me more of mumbai!

Special.Saadha said...

"Lo and behold, hear the stories untold, Ivory Mystic is now officially an author, in the world of gigantic blogger"
I find this piece excellent because you have written a story out of rubbish. A sunset to me is a.......sunset, quite simply. Nothing more. Nothing less. Happens everday. And nothing unique about it. But read an Alvin Kernan or a Jane Austen and they can write pages on somthing as mundane as a sunset. Giving you that "connect feel" as "anonymous" said. To me, anybody who can work a plot around something that is so bland and unworkable as a sunset or a train journey, is officialy an author. And you have done an extremely good job at it. Definitely gives the "connect" feel
So Chak de Miss Mystic!!!

Ravicharan said...

on this particular topic:

At first I thought how boring,confused,dull, and unbearable a topic about
"local trains" can be... but its none of that. It's a tour de force;

on your attempt to write as a whole:

The details that you have chosen for all your topics describe where the story happens and what happens there.
I'm sure the readers have experienced it for themselves !

Rock on !!