Monday, June 25, 2007

Rains - Morning Walk and Commuting

It has been raining heavily, in fact, pouring. As I go for my daily walk at the Artist Village pond - my own Walden Pond - the little jogging track is covered with boughs and leaves that have been dislodged by the heavy rain and wind. It is still raining and I wear my windcheater and shorts. I am also holding an umbrella to protect my head. Overdressed? Hehe! Maybe!

The trains are late because a few of them have been cancelled. The platform is dark and smelly and there is a cut in power supply. And, it’s a Monday too! Late trains and a cut in power combines well to set me on the edge. But I use my meditative powers. I can’t even read anything. A friend waves from across the other side of the platform. I wave back.

The train arrives. It is thickly packed with people. Mercifully, I only have to travel from CBD Belapur to Vashi; which is five stations away. But the crowd today is unyielding, because of the delay. Somehow I push myself inside. The flesh, muscles and bones wriggle tightly to make space for me.

“Please push inside, there’s plenty of room inside.”

“Han, han, there’s lot of space. Why don’t you come inside,” said sarcastically.

I give the owner of the voice (I can’t see him, my head is jammed by other heads) a dirty smirk.

A few years ago I used to travel in comfort in the first class compartment. Ah, those were the days! In fact, sometimes, since these compartments were empty I used to go into a second-class compartment for fear of being robbed. In the last few years because of the development around Kharghar and Panvel, the trains have gotten too crowded for comfort. Real estate agents have pushed up prices in these areas saying, “The airport is coming close to here!” Damn their lot!

As the train progresses towards Vashi, it gets worse. I fear I won’t be able to get down at Vashi, unless I push very hard towards the door. The man behind me is despairing because we are too far inside, and there’s a thick wall of flesh ahead of us. He curses, swears in English. Obviously, the outsourced-worker type from the look of his sleep deprived eyes.

By now (I am a professional of forty odd years of commuting in Bombay) I know the rules. In Bombay trains “Might is Right.” I fight my way to the door, I step over people’s feet, and I push and prod. I know what you are thinking. Ungentlemanly, isn’t it? But I also say, “Excuse me, aap ko Vashi utharna hai?” and “Thank you.”

The grinding flesh yields bit by bit. I am near the door. As the train nears Vashi I give the man in front a big push with all my strength. “Your *$%^&*()@…” he begins but before he knows it, in a flash, I am out of the train and walking on the platform.

I look back; the man behind me, the despiraing, foul-mouthed man has been swallowed by the people who got in at Vashi. He is nowhere. May be, just may be, he shouldn’t swear so much, and be polite like me (Yeah, why don't I pat my back a little? Be polite buddy even in the worst circumstance, gets your work done!) Now he will have to travel all the way to Mankhurd, and then board a train back to Vashi. Poor chap!
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