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Mumbai Local Trains – A Parallel Universe!

“The train arriving on platform number 4 is 12 car slow local for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus via Harbour Line”, this is something that soothes my mind and soul every evening. Boarding a train back home is sheer happiness. Mumbai Local trains aren’t just the mode of commuting, they’re a way of living life.

Every morning a Mumbaikar leaves his house in accordance to the pre-calculated time of the train he needs to board that morning. A single minute here and there leads to a complete miscalculation resulting in a late mark at the office.

You’d never see a daily local commuter strolling around the station. He’s always either running on the foot overbridge or hopping off from one platform to another, despite the continuous warning announcements that go on in the background.

“Eka Platform varun dusrya platform var janyakarita krupaya poolacha kivva subway cha vapar kara” – in three languages – Marathi, Hindi, and English. While I write this, I could actually hear the lady’s voice who speaks on the intercom.

Mumbai local trains are a second home for many Mumbaikars. People are traveling from CSMT to Panvel, Panvel to Parel via Kural, Borivali to Nerul via Dadar and Kurla, Neral to Mahim via Dadar, Badlapur to Dadar, etc. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

First of all, a big salute to all the local train commuters. All the above journeys I mentioned are the most hectic, critical, and long trips. And the routes where I’ve mentioned via – they’re the most frustrating ones.

Finding something positive while you travel every day is what you should be good at. Otherwise, the journey is bound to become a hell of an experience for you and that too every single day(of course expect the weekend, if you have any).

I was longing to share with you the parallel life that goes on the Mumbai locals trains. Here I’m, all excited and eager to narrate to you the everyday stories that happen on the trains.

Morning 8.13 am when I’m done climbing the stairs and see the indicator showing ‘8.15 Thane’, I run on the bridge, then downstairs until I reach the ladies compartment panting, struggling for some air. (I run because missing this train means missing the connecting train that I’ll be boarding from Kurla)

When the train arrives, there’s no rush in the early morning hours, so I board the train without any hassles after everyone has already climbed up and grabbed their seats. I look around and sit on one of the window seats.

Many of you answered ‘yes’ to this question. So writing this blog!

After a while, when my breath is back to normal, I take out the book in my bag and start reading. There’re women around me neatly dressed, with their makeup put on correctly. Despite the humidity in the air, not a single droplet of sweat rolls down their cheeks, unlike me.

I wonder how are women so sincere about their looks and how do they carry themselves so well even on a MUMBAI LOCAL TRAIN. I don’t apply talcum powder on my face in the guaranteed assumption that as-it-is-everything-would-be-washed-off-till-I-reach-office.

I try to read as much as possible until Kurla station arrives (from there you need to change the rail line to board a train to Vashi). Boarding and de-boarding the train at Kurla, both are an adventure in themselves.

When I climb up the stairs to cross the foot over bridge, women make a single line, accompanied by men in the parallel track, few carrying a basket full of fish or other goods on their head and others trying to push and move ahead in the crowd.

At the end of the stairs, there’s a lady-beggar sitting, her hands twisted in the other directions and her face is a victim of acid attack. She’s old and black. People do drop a penny or two in the steel plate that she holds high in the air.

On the bridge, where people are moving to and fro in a vast number, there are women watching web series on their phones. I mean is that even sane? I understand you’ve got less time and so much content on the internet to be consumed. But that does not mean you become entirely negligent for the world around you?

The platform (Kurla) is moderately crowded as it is only 8.30am. More than half the time, harbor line trains are late. If there’s no place to stand, I just don’t board the train. I always keep in mind a dialogue from a Bollywood movie – Ishq. “Ladki, bus aur train, ek gayi to dusri ati hai.” 

But seeing the women hanging out the train and their urge to board the train despite the crowd, is astonishing.

Unlike, the old saying, “When two women meet, it’s impossible for them not to talk”, women, today are busy in their phones so much so that you need to pat their back and ask them to shift a little (and in Mumbai local little is defined as just a centimeter).

Women watch Big Boss (the Marathi season is on) on their mobile. How can someone invest their time watching such a nonsense show? Oh sorry! It’s not investing, it’s a complete waste of time and energy.

I come back to the book I’m reading and try to calm down.

The other day when I was reading, as usual, two young married women, sat facing each other and were bitching about their mother-in-law. The distance from Kurla to Vashi is 21 minutes, and these two chatterboxes blabbered without a pause. It was good entertainment to all the ladies sitting around them. But the talks hit my head like a hammer.

One day, I was spellbound and irritated to see a girl fighting with her boyfriend over the phone and scrolling through her Facebook feeds, liking them, and also commenting on some. The way she spoke to her boyfriend was annoying. I don’t know what was wrong. I understand that everybody has issues, that wasn’t my concern. What bothered me was, if you’re talking to someone(or even fighting) you’re supposed to be focused. If you’re distracted like this, you’re disrespecting that person’s time and splitting your attention.

But a few girls are mind-blowing. You just cannot hear what they’re talking even if you’re sitting right next to them. I wonder whether the person on the other side of the phone can listen to what they speak!

Let me tell you a magical thing about local trains. If you’re standing a little away from the door(when the station is nearing), you’ll be amazed to find yourself at the door when the train halts entirely on the platform. This is because half the people get down from the running train and magically you find yourself at the tip of the door.

Just a few days ago, I discovered something interesting. The hawkers that sell chips, accessories, cosmetics, etc. on the train are employees to some employer. Yes. They’re salaried employees who are at their job on the train. This was something surprising.

OMG! Mumbai local trains are a boon to so many people! So much so that people are earning their bread and butter by selling things on the train.

In the evening, when I am on my way back home, there’s a slight change in the picture, people, start running even faster. I’m no exception to this. Who doesn’t want to reach home soon?

At Parel, people get down the stairs in a single line while a hot, stinky wave blows from the large crowd climbing up the stairs. People ignore the pushing, swallow their anger, and only run towards their home.

I wonder how do women still have their lipstick on their lips and blush on their cheek! Is it the evening touch up?

But for your information, I do not struggle much in the Mumbai Locals because I travel in the up direction (Up direction is from CSMT towards Karjat/Panvel). For the people moving in the down direction(Karjat/Panvel towards CSMT), life is literally hell.

The rush in the peak hours is unbelievable. Men and women board the running trains. There’re fights on the train every passing day. If you stand on the stairs and look down while people board the train from Dadar, the scene is terrifying, enough to send chills down your spine.

I’ve seen one of my close friends, traveling all her life in the trains. In college, she commuted to Mahim from Neral via Dadar. She’s an expert in boarding the running trains.

A good thing about all of those traveling in the down direction is, they have groups. They celebrate festivals on trains. Men sing bhajans on the train to entertain themselves. As I said earlier, Mumbai locals are a second home to all these people.

This blog was dedicated to all the commuters who go through a hell lot of challenges and difficulties every day while they travel to and fro to their workplace.

Do let me know your experiences also in the comment section below or simply reply to this email. I’d be glad to read all of them.

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Shraddha Rane is a blogger from Mumbai, India. She graduated from the University of Mumbai and enjoys writing and spending time with her friends.

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6 thoughts on “Mumbai Local Trains – A Parallel Universe!

  1. Yes Mumbai locals are really special in my life. I am traveling from last 9 years. I’ve met many people. As u mentioned in a blog, I am also a member of many groups of the train and yeah that group of my frnds are very special. And in one of the groups I met one person. I did not like her in first meet but now she is my best frnd-sis-soulmate ever. This local train has given me a precious person in my life and a wonderful time ever.

    I was very excited to read this blog. When I saw the notification, i just stopped watching the match and read your blog first. U really wrote it very nicely. My last 9 years journey kept flashing in front of my eyes while reading Ur blog.

  2. Agar mai Ambani hota toh mumbai locals me travel karne wale mere bhai-bahno k liye free me perfumes and deodorant batata… Because, the only experience I have with mumbai local is not so redolent. I was surrounded by men with one of their hand mandetorily hanging on the support bar and trust me that’s when I realised a good height can save you from this hell experience 😂😂

    … And ohhh God!!! Our lady writer is disappointed not because the girl was fighting with her bf, but because she was not fighting with concentration?
    Devaaaa… kuthey neun thevlays Maharashtra maza? 🙄

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