Two strangers facing each other, our eyes meet, mine to that of the opposite person and the opposite person’s to mine. We exchanged smiles, mine been more wider as I felt so, maybe the opposite person’s smile was wider than mine, I am not sure. We looked at each other’s hand, initially that person glanced at my hands and then noticing that the eyes were looking at my hands I did the same, in complete syncronisation with each other. We both stared at each other almost for a minute trying to adjust our eye’s pupil to get a proper glance of the object in our hand.
No no … this is not what you are thinking. This happened yesterday evening while I was traveling back home in the train. We both boarded the same train, the same coach and from the same station. Once I got in we were facing exactly opposite each other (well, people traveling in Mumbai local trains will understand it much better 🙂 ).
Well, it was the book we both were holding to read during the journey towards home. And I know you will be disappointed to read that the opposite person was not female too. We both were holding the same book to read. I normally have a habit to read during my train journey and once I hop into the train I immediately remove the book from my bag to read.
We both were reading the same book and hence all these exchanges of eye contact and smiles . I have seen many people reading books while traveling but hardly I have found anyone reading the same book as mine. Couple of times it has happened that people have asked me about the author and the book I was reading at that time but never have I had an experience like yesterday.
Another few minutes of scanning each other we both got engrossed into our reading but the curious person I am, I did not allow myself to settle calmly. I wanted to pinch him hard and say same pinch but I avoided it . I took the initiative to ask him his opinion about the author and then it all started from how to when to where to who and lots more. Infact the full 50 minutes of our traveling journey we were chatting on all the topics we can think of; books to politics to demonetization to our profession.
Well, it’s the power of the book and the reading habit which helps to friend a stranger no matter which part of the world you are in.
Today I had an early start to my day and had to reach office early for a video call. I reached the train station and managed to get into the 07.18 am local. Seeing the indicator of the train as 07.18 my mind went into flashback. The train was relatively empty and I got a place to seat. As a normal routine I started reading my book but today my mind was wavering into the good old days… my college days early 90s.
Morning 07.18 train is always a history for me. Years before this is the train in which I had bumped into set of my college friends as my college timing was from 9am. If you are staying in Mumbai then you would know that the main rush hours in trains start after 7.30 am, so I always preferred catching the train as early as possible to avoid the maddening crowd.
Down memory lane during my college days, 7.18 am train was the fixed time that we all friends used to travel irrespective of our college start time. We had a fixed coach and fixed place since 2 of my friends used to come in that same train but from 2 stations before mine. Those days I used to stay at Malad (a suburb in Mumbai) and my college was in Worli area.
Every morning all of us (my college friends group) used to play cards while traveling, well the train journey was approx 45 minutes and we had to do something to kill time. Although during our exams we all used to study and discuss important topics but during rest of the days playing cards was on the list of activities. Today I got into the 7.18 train but now I travel in the First class compartment as compared to my college days where we all used to travel in the general class.
If I think about the amount of “masti” we used to do while traveling brings a smile on my face. I really miss hopping into the train, the big discussions on various topics, pulling each other legs, having snacks in the train, the loud noise while playing cards, the disturbance to others which could be noticed easily on the faces of the co-passengers who many a times used to give angry looks to all of us and ask us to shut our mouths. But even after all this, our giggling and playing of cards never stopped. 7.18 was the train we never used to miss and while departing at the end of the day our parting words were “see you tomorrow in 7.18”.
I miss those days and I still wish I can rewind my time and that we all… NP, SR, GD, HS ….. guys hope you listening to this … lets all plan to travel once again for a few days in the same train, same coach and same sitting place along with all the fun and “masti” we used to do during our college days.
Today morning after extended weekend (holiday for Ganesh Visarjan) I was too reluctant to get up from by bed. But since I had my office and had to reach on time I forced my self to complete my morning chores quickly so that I could leave for office on time. But somehow I missed my regular train (which rarely happens) and I had to get into the one after my usual train.
No, it was not crowded, nor was it an old train and neither there were any fights for seats too :). Today I had a different type of experience. I had the company of a person sitting next to me; a very heft guy who must be six feet tall with a heavy built. I was sitting at the window seat and as per my daily routine I was enjoying the breeze and reading my book.
So this well-built-muscular-guy having a thick mustache began to snore no sooner the train left the starting point. I was like “What that hell is happening??” and was getting irritated by it. I was not able to concentrate on my reading too. It seems like the guy had not slept for days and he was completing his sleep now.
I somehow started ignoring the thick snoring noise and got engrossed in reading. In the next few minutes I started feeling something very heavy had fallen on my shoulder and the pressure was forcing me to lean on the other side. I was getting sandwiched between the heavy guy on my right side and the window on my left. Its like in a wrestling match, I had been cornered and my opponent (double the weight of mine) was all over me and there was not an inch of space left wherein I could move to save myself.
I with my full strength (all those who don’t know me, I am an average built slim person) forced myself to lean forward and that double-the-weight-guy literally fell sideways on me. He was taken by surprise and he did not realize what had happened. Other passengers who were all this while enjoying the show started giggling. I thought now atleast I will have some space and will enjoy my reading for the rest of the journey. But alas my wish just lasted few minutes and again the guy was all over me. This time I decided to stand up and vacate my seat and offer this guy to lie down instead of falling all over me. And as I was going to do it, his phone rang and he woke up. Luckily I did not have to do what I had thought of :). The next second he realized he had missed his station and hurriedly got down at the next stop.
I know that in Mumbai there are many who work in the night shift and travels back home in the morning, I do understand that sleep is something which is very difficult to hold back. I also have done night shifts in my previous organization and I also have traveled by train back home. But trust me the amount of pressure I was thrown upon by that hefty guy was simply unbearable. He was completely on my shoulder as if I was his pillow.
I seriously hope and cross my fingers that in-future I do not come face to face with the same guy or even experience such a sleeping partner in my train travel.
Today morning, I was little late and caught one train later than my usual train for office and had a hottest with large volume of sweating travel till date to office. Yes the train which I traveled was an old train. Old in the sense the manufacturing of the coaches were old. I am sure those who are regular traveler of western railway will surely understand the difference between old racks and new racks train.
Now a days the Sun God has started showing it’s more brightness and as a result the heat wave is on the rise . And not to forget staying in Mumbai means getting complimentary sweating along with the heat. And to add to all these today the train I traveled in had the fans off. Yes; the full train fans were off (as I can see the second class compartment fans too). Luckily I got a window seat and was bit lucky to enjoy the warm breeze while the train is in motion. But the conditions of others who are standing on the gangway or passages were horrible. As it is the local trains in the morning hours are fully crowded and one can hardly get some inches of space to stand.
It as like a bundle deal railways had offered us today. Fans not working and the train were not cleaned at all. It seems this particular train was lying in train shed and had been removed out from it after ages. Seats were dirty, windows were fully covered with mud and yes the fans too had layers of mud on it. Being the first day of the week and facing such horrible traveling experience made me think I should go straight to the Deputy General in charge of Western Railway and make him travel in the same train from Churchgate to Borivali.
Damn how can one travel in such conditions. Fans not working, coaches not cleaned…. grrrrr … not an expected way to start my day. And did I hear Western railway is starting with AC trains? God, it sounds so funny, the railway authorities can’t even manage to keep the regular trains clean and maintain them properly and they are dreaming of running AC coaches. I really wonder what will be the condition if the AC’s stops working in the AC trains and there are no windows which can let the outside air come in. Why can’t the railway authorities specially the Mumbai Suburban railway take care and pay proper attention to such things. We as a citizen at least expect to have neat and clean coaches with fans working and proper ventilation.
Hoping I will not be greeted with such bad traveling experience in future.
Today morning, I witnessed one more fight in the Mumbai locals. Unlike the last adventure this time it was not for a seat. I know those travelling in trains in Mumbai must be thinking that it is very common and happens every day. So are we really commuting to reach our destination or travelling to fight and remove frustration or anger on someone?
Today’s incidence took an ugly turn when a person tried boarding the train and he mistakenly pushed another person who was standing near the gate. Although the first guy said sorry but the verbal abuse started . In no time the train compartment turned into a WWF ring. The passengers sitting were the boundary of the ring although no ropes but with so many referees trying their best to take control on the situation in the compartment turned ring . Yes literally fist fight started between both of them and they were falling from side of passengers to other side of passengers who were trying to save themselves from getting hurt. All this lasted for few minutes and there was lot of chaos in the compartment.
Interesting to note that all this happened in first class compartment between 2 gentlemen who were neatly dressed up and were possessing high-tech gadgets with them. After all these years of train traveling in second and first class I have concluded that if you have a travel pass of 1st class compartment means you own the railways. No doubts there are more cultured gentlemen and more decency in 1st class but people cannot bear discomfort. The amount of people traveling and that too in peak hours can lead to little pushing or discomfort. We all have to realise that life is full of adjustment and try to adjust so that yourself as well as others are happy too. There is no point losing your temper and getting into fights with anyone. We all want to reach to our destination on time. Stay calm and be happy.
Have you ever been to India, and experienced a journey by local trains! I do! My commute consists of a ride through the choo-choo train every day. It is of course the worst at rush hours. But being Mumbai, and so over populated, it is generally crowded at other times of the day too.
Today while traveling in train, I was an unfortunate witness to an argument between an elderly man who must be in his late fifties (lets call him A) with a young boy who was definitely younger than me (lets call him B). For your reference I am in mid thirties.
It all started for a seat in the first class compartment. The young lad i.e. B tried to push the older gentleman A while grabbing a seat and then started the “tu tu mein mein” between both of them. A started with lecturing B about his education and his upbringing. And the young boy stared to abuse the elderly guy also bringing in religious values. B even said that “so what if you are old, this does not mean you need comfort at all places and we young generation need to teach you and change your way of thinking”. I am mentioning only a couple of things, the argument lasted more than ten minutes.
Is this our new generation who does not know how to respect an older person? In early days and during our time we never argued or disrespect anyone who was older than us and we still do the same. Today education has increased to its highest level but being an educated person does not teach you how to give respect to others. This quality of giving respect should come from within one self. I really wonder if the young guy cannot respect an elder guy then what will be his attitude towards his own Parents? The worst part which I did not like at all was that after the person A got down at his destined station the young guy again started saying that I wanted to teach that person how to sit and hence he did such thing purposely.
There were two seats for both of them respectively, it was just the comfort level. If B could have made place or if he could ignore A’s remarks then such argument could had been avoided. As usual couple of other fellow travelers (of course including me) had to intervene. I made some place for A as he was near me.
This is just one of the examples and sadly such things happens almost everyday in trains. Not many accommodate for others. I am still thinking of the young guy as he cannot preach then how do we expect him to teach his children the value of respect for elders. Pushing an elder to get a better seat is never worth it for it just does not feel right. Are we human beings or animals? Even penguins take care of one another and are accommodating to other penguins when facing extreme temperatures.
We, like penguins, share a bond humanity.