You know, Mumbai mornings can be quite beautiful too!
Crows cawing, cars honking, the cleaning mausi yapping away loudly on her mobail, the numerous doorbells that keep ringing especially when you wanna sleep in…And then that sudden realisation that you need to submit that report in office today and your late!!!
Rushing thru that shower just scrubbing the important places (winks), the gobbling of your breakfast while jumping into your clothes, holding the toast in your mouth while dumpin stuff in your work bag, rushing out the door and putting on your shoes in the lift and rushing back in coz u forgot your phone and keys…UFF!!
By now you are thinking what a clutz…but haven’t u had one of those days??!!
When I run down my street to the nearest suburban railway, you will enter the most densely populated area in the world! Even if you back from China!
Dudes and Dudettes, Allow me to introduce Andheri station. The most densely populated area in the world!
And as I approach the ticket window to buy meself one (Ain’t I an honest one, who buys tickets!!)
Now begins the nightmare … every single soul at the station ticket window queue is like a well-armed soldier ready for battle or undergoing the “aaarrrgh” wala obstacle training course at least…people of all age groups filled with anger and irritation all around u, yet, all ready to attack!! And u think… Why??
Thronging crowds of men and women rushing to buy a ticket quickly to catch their morning daily local…and with a single moto ….ME First! Main Pehle! And how can I get out of this quickly…I want my ticket asap and occasional loud cries “Arre jaldi karo train nikal jayegi“, “Arre line mein aaoo hum bhi khade hai” or “Shanti rakho coupon kharid raha hu”….
My morning drill to work now has changed focus to …the same!! So like a good citizen (read acha bacha) I patiently catch the shortest line to the ticket window while shuffling my pockets for enough change, checking my bag is secure, my phone is safely tucked in my pocket (beware of pickpockets- remember??) and of course securing my place in the queue…a few minutes later, the line hasn’t moved!!
Utter chaos… people fighting, abusing and giving excuses to get their tickets first, skipping their place in the queue if no one’s looking, sweaty men nudging the women ahead (intention or by error) and them glaring back saying…”bhai saab sidha khada raho!! “
It’s almost more than twenty minutes and 2 calls to office later, the line barely has moved, and another five later, just when I am about to lose it, am once again distracted by a phone call.
No, thanks I don’t want a loan, I say and hang up abruptly! Regretting my rude tone immediately, muttering to myself…All coz of the horrible smell coming from the toilet nearby…UGH!!
Suddenly, I see all those in my line run towards another window…wow, I say another one’s open…”Good,” I say. This one should reduce the burden on one window and save time for all of us! I roll my eyes looking at a good lot running towards the “newly opened” window and decide to wait patiently where I stand. Thou shalt not run to new line, unless you are a cheetah/athlete, thou shall wait where you are. Arthaat, if you run to the new line and are not fast enough, you will be last or way behind in the new queue and will miss your current position too! So, stay put and cover your position well or someone will sneak in.
Slow and steady the line moves another centimetre…sucks doesn’t it??
Yes, that’s what our dear city teaches us. Patience…it’s a virtue my friend! So have some patience and read on…hahaha…
Meri manzil aur paas aa rahi hai …! I begin to feel better as I see the number of people ahead of me reduce to four, three and two…Wow…just one more and I am next!! Finally!! But, before you know it, the feeling of relief is gone! Poof! And your back to irritation again! Arey baba, why you getting irritated!? Read further, why I say that!
Impatience sets in and reaches its peak, when the person ahead of you is new to the city, does not get the accent of the mawa suckling thing behind the counter, does not “tender exact change” and drops some of the coins flung back at him or her…with the ticket!
And then to my rude shock! The same mawa suckling namuna (ya I wanna call him that now), puts a board on my face, saying COUNTER CLOSED!!??
AAARRRGHHH!! (Ab bolo!?)
Wounded pride, and fizzled enthusiasm, with sweaty armpits but not surrendered yet, the “spirit of Mumbai” ushers me to the next counter, where only 4 people are in queue. Well, this is my lucky day (Coz I can “tender exact change today”), I say and await my turn again! After the entire military drill, obstacle course, (call it whatever, coz by now, I don’t care!), I get my ticket to Hollywood (Churchgate “single”) after (I repeat) “tendering exact change” and then move my eyes towards to the indicator (which shows a train indicating time 20 minutes earlier hasn’t arrived yet and then the screen goes off!!
Now begins a new chapter on which platform to take and God Bless You, if you are not a regular!
I scurry to the platform across the other end of the station, an annoying voice blares through the barely working “surround sound” …Platform no. 4 ki gaadi, platform no. 1 pe aayegi…Yatri jan ko is asuvidha ke liye khed hai!! Something something!! Asuvidha…hahahhah….
Ever wonder people travelling WT (Without Ticket) is so high!! Pity am not one of ‘em!! Sigh!! (Winks!!)
P.S. (Long one ;)) It’s been a few months and I am getting the whole picture now, and understand why people say, chal chal jaldi chal varna apni “17” ki ya “49” ki miss ho jaayegi, and know exactly which entry or exit to take so they have to walk less, or their regular vala coach comes close to it, and the ones that use the phrase “main return aata hu”, and the ones who dive into a train that’s still pulling into a station, and the one who gets stuck far from home on rain delays, and the one who is not afraid to board the train the day after a bomb blast!
The ones who who speak this are the ones who have graduated with flyin colors in the “mumbai mein railway yatri “suffer” program” Hats off to you guys who do buy tickets and travel! Hum toh abhi bhi kacha limbu hai bhai! But I get there!
Lekin aaj kal suna hai…ache din aanewale hai!?