About Me

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven in a place like Hell

'ki ki ki ki ki ki....ayiyeiieyieyieyieyie.. ur uh ur uurrrrr..urr'..
Question - Guess the situation under which these high pitch nasal sounds are emanated by sweaty living forms in large hordes..
Ahaaa.. no. .its not from the settings of 'The Last of the Mohicans'... nopes.. its not from the Zulu tribes in the African hinterlands... and nopes.. its certainly not an advanced morse code being practiced by red bottomed baboons !
This is the welcome note one is greeted every morning, irrespective of the day, though the frequency and rigor in the yells is determined by the hour, in a Mumbai local train.
Perfect material for the adage 'mass men have no minds', the urgency displayed by an average Mumbaikar in getting into a train, risking life and limb (of his fellow passengers, strictly) would put the efforts of the best investment bankers in the country to shame. If the Mumbaikar showed so much of enthusiasm in trying to help society, working out regularly, or simply in working well in his office, the chief minister's dream of making Shanghai out of this place is more than half done.
Sometimes I wonder if this is all the entertainment that a Mumbaikar can get in the city. An absolutely empty train (i.e. a museum piece .. almost, coz these are as rare as a vegetarian in cannibal-land), about 30 people outside the station waiting and all they can think of is getting into the train in one masterful movement while the train is on the move. They then proceed to not so gently nudge their fellow travellers/competitors/rivals/gnu-in-human-form out of the way to get hold of that seat.
In 30 seconds most of them are seated as comfortably as one would while watching a movie at Inox. The rest are left licking their wounds with a cross-section of Hindi film cliches ('mein tera khoon pee jaunga', 'meri ma ki kasam..', 'mard hai tho saam..', f*** it!) running through their minds and at the same time plotting on taking revenge while getting of the train. Revenge needn't strictly be taken on the same person who bruised our traveller's ego and arms in equal proportions, it could also be taken against any other fellow traveller with equal zest and the scores would be considered settled. It is thus that the chain of attacks are set off, because there is inevitably, at the end of the day, atleast a handful of those using local trains whose bruise-accounts show an entry on the debit side without a corresponding entry on the credits ( for all my financial friends who are gonna go yak-yak, i believe that 'double entry' is strictly for adult movies).
Here's one of my personal favourites that I'm sure would make an entry in 'The Losers Travelogue'. I hold this very close to my heart coz of the unwilling protagonist's role I had to play in it. A martyr I was made, and a good one at that was I!
Blessed with visionary ideas and a vision supported by opticians, I was left at the mercy of a fellow-traveller to find out if the train from Churchgate had plans of pausing at Andheri. Being late to office by an hour already (which is a regular feature with me now, so much so, I plan to redeclare the rest of my colleagues as conspirators who come early to make me look bad), I had to go by his word without further verification.
25 minutes.. whizz.. 'Andheri' proclaimed the board. 25 minutes and a few microseconds .. another whizz but this time accompanied with a blur and some sadness, Andheri goes past me.
The next station the train approaches is Goregaon. Numbers inside the train have dwindled into the early twenties or late teens. As the train slowed into a packed station, I figured out that all of a sudden, all those gentlemen who were sending out vibes of getting off at Goregaon, have turned their backs on the station (literally, I swear!). They are now showing their butts (wouldn't the aforementioned baboons take pride) to the entrance of the compartment and I could hear the gentleman right behind me (he had by then backed off to the entrance at the non-striking longer edge of the compartment) saying something that sounded like 'mrityunjaya..'!
Whizz! nopes not a station this time, but the entire horde of people in the station seemed to have decided to use me as the morning's punch bag. Well-settled into every nook and cranny, I still felt like Orlando Bloom taking on Salauddin's army (I hadn't watched the movie 'Kingdom of Heaven' as yet at that point, thereby making the analogy an anachronistic one). This myth was well-shattered by the praying gentleman (though I prefer referring to him as a mantis now), who decided to blame the impossibility of him and the other posterior oriented gentlemen not being able to get out of the trian squarely on me. He may as well have blamed me for the 1996 recalling of Mercs due to some bolt fault and I'd have felt the same amount of guilt. Alighting from the train at the wrong destination I was now told to get back in there since that was the next train to Andheri, only, this time a slow one. The only conclusion I could draw - The journey to hell is real fast, but the journey out of it, if you do have one, is supposed to be a slow one, for the same fare!
I'll put a quick end to the above para, due to the pain it causes on recollecting it. The train went onto halt at Andheri, and I, with my 85 kg frame was over-numbered and over-come, submitting finally to the fate of getting off at Bandra.
The next journey from Bandra to Andheri was a pleasant one! For once, I felt the roads were empty! Though only a feeling, I still am grateful to God for giving it to me that day.
Thanks to the absence of a swipe card of my own, my early lunch time entry into the office was not recorded, unlike my thoughts which have been through this blog.
Someone please tell me that I'm not alone on the train journeys.. and I'll get you'll a two week all expenses paid travel between Ghatkopar and Kurla, second class only though.
Suri @ Mumbai.