Friday, June 06, 2008

the next train arrives...

it struck me that we are wired differently. the bbywallas, mumbaikars, who use public transport, especially the trains.

i am at the over bridge in the afternoon. all is normal except one small thing, i have a rather heavy child sleeping on my shoulder, and two bags slipping off the other shoulder, and i am not in a hurry to get to any appointment.


i hear the announcement that a train is coming in to platform five,

and i run.

no appointment that i am late for,
heavy sleeping child,
slipping bags,
crowded platform,
the steps are far away from the ladies'compartment,
and the next train will come in 3- 6 minutes,


i dodge, i pant, i run

i reach my designated spot under the indicator

the train stops

i get in

i catch my breath

and look around PLEASED AS PUNCH

as satisfied as the child who completes her 12 piece jigsaw puzzle!

and we dont seem to mind looking like a clumsy baby elephant frantically running towards its is abnormal, it is scary, but it is true, we are like this.

the only consolation, that she is slowly getting wired into this abnormality.

at 13 she can go with a bunch of her pals for a trip into town without being driven around by her parents,
at 16 she can come back from a late function in college, without a boy to escort her, unless she and he want that little extra time
at 20 she can come back late from an assignment without worrying about spending money on autos and cabs from the meagre stipend you get as a trainee
at 22 she can work till the wee hours of the morning, without fear of how she will get home, too proud to ask her male colleague to drop her

and i will tell her about the activist/filmmaker who bought a cigarette at the platform late one night and got harrassed, and attacked by a couple of policemen who claimed they were loose women. we woke up in the morning to read the news story. and tracked the case that the activist fought in court against the policemen. we were in college, and reading about the case made all of us college friends walk with a swagger, in our little heads daring the policeman or the groper to come close. many gropers were encountered, some were whacked, some were abused, one was dragged to the police station. and many got away. but we walked with a swagger, and broke into a run the moment it was announced that the next train was expected on platform number five.


karmickids said...

Ah Sur, I miss the trains, I really do. Quick, efficient, and I had learnt how to sleep standing. Also I was in my best shape ever when I travelled by trains, positively Monroesque with all that running and climbing and jumping.
And I wonder whether by not introducing the brat to the trains am I doing him a disservice. But frankly, the thought of running behind him on a crowded platform gives me the heebie jeebies...

SUR NOTES said...

sleeping standing is a rare skill that we have all mastered, and should cherish. and what about waking up exactly a minute before your platform rolls by? another great skill.

and little k running on the platform? he will realise that all of bby is like him wildly energetic and full of beans! :)

SloganM said...

I miss the mumbai locals!

And ur observation is true. it's such a liberating thing.

And here 's a pic I go back to when I miss them trains:

dipali said...

Amazing post- guess that's the spirit that makes Mumbai tick:) Delhi buses were never so liberating(:

SUR NOTES said...

sloganm: i really like this one.
it is liberating - and the crushed bones, and ruptured organs are always repairable, i say.

SUR NOTES said...

dipali: the delhi buses taught my 13 year old cousin to carry an open safety pin in her hand.didi, poke them if they come too near. she is a fierce fighter.
i was in la la land until i encountered the first groper when i was much older.

thechasingiamb said...

oh thank god! Its a mumbai thing is it? I always slightly like a fool and more like a lazy bum because all these people are running and i am not.

anja said...

I love this post Sur, I can just see you smiling satisfied at the other passengers as they acknowledge your prowess. Love the trains in Bombay and miss them. I too was in such great shape while I was travelling by them, running up and down steps like a mountain goat.

parotechnics said...

Very nice post.

And of course most admirable that you're not one of those moms whose, um, planning her child's life at all. At all, at all. ;)

And man, am I waiting to hear what you feel about the boy a dozen years from now. Am already planning my cackle....

SUR NOTES said...

the chasing iiamb: you have to have lived here for some time for your heart to skip a delighted beat when you hear the announcement that a train, esp a fast train is rolling in to the platform.

anja: no one smiled back :(

paro:no, no, not planning her life at all, just making sure she replays my life all over again. :)
and the boy,as long as he does not gel his hair heavenwards i think i might manage.

Anonymous said...

That made me so nostalgic - that was a slice of my past!


Sraikh said...

It is Mumbai thing. I was introduced to Mumbai trains by my now husband then boyfriend and I got all pissed at him, saying that I will stay home, I will walk, I will take auto, cab and spend hundreds of rupees..but never ever take the damm trains again. He gave me pained look and told me I will never get it

Manpreet said...

So So true,


You write so well...

Amrita said...

Mere ankha vich paani aa gaya.

I miss the trains too - not the gropers though. But the ones in Andheri are probably happy to see the back of me... not the backside, for a change.

Remember the times?!