Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Professional's Guide to Commuting in Bombay!

To this post about commuting in New York by Pragya Thakur (Oh! no, not that one, this one moderates Shakespeare & Co. with the dedoubtable James Joyce alias KVK Murthy). I am regular griper on Twitter about the morning commute. Only today I had a huge fight with a man who tried, successfully, to block me from occupying a vacant seat, a precious piece of real estate in the morning madness (sorry, rush). I became so mad and all het up that I shouted at him, which is what I do when I lose my abundant cool and zen. Hmm, created a scene, sigh! Lost my zen for a few minutes as I stood there quivering and arguing while an opportunistic smart fart coolly sat on the seat in question.

Here's my reply to Pragya Thakur:

"Common problem, rain here sleet in New York. What I do is make sure I have only one piece of luggage with me, i.e., a biggish haversack that can hold a laptop, an umbrella, a purse containing chequbooks and stuff, a torch (yes there are powercuts to think about), glue stick, diary, notebook, stray credit card payments that i have forgotten to drop in the ATM box, lunch box, all this nicely tucked into one big haver sack that I can sling around both shoulders (so no slipping and sliding you see!). I also do a risky jumping into the compartment before the train stops at Victoria Terminus (the station which terrorists attacked recently), and this would be impossible without this contraption - I can bash my competitors for a seat (by the window) with my biggish haversack. I smash into them, hold the dividing rod, push myself in and then do an impossible dive for a window seat. It's risky, don't try it if you aren't an expert in it.

"As for umbrella I buy sturdy three-folding "John's Umbrellas" when I go to Kerala, which are very good, as they are made from some carbon-titanium alloy. All decent Mallus swear by this modern invention of tropical-climate-oriented ingenuity. They fold three times and is neatly tucked into a side pocket of the haversack so that I don't have to open my bag when it rains. Rain? Draw, unfurl, switch the button, it opens like a dream! Would suggest you buy this marvel of tropical thunderstorms when you are in India.

"As for shoes my Bata "Hush Puppies" are so sturdy and sleek that I can step into water with it, give it a shine the next day, and lo and behold, it shines as if it is new! Would suggest you buy sturdy Bata shoes when you are in India next. On casual days I wear "Woodlands" shoes which are comfortable, tough, has traction on soles, and feels as if I am floating when I walk.

"Remember, carry only one piece of luggage, big enough for all your things and you commute like a professional. After all, this comes a professional with twenty nine years of experience. I can vouch that the Bombay commute is a bigger hazard than the New York one."

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