Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Daily commute in Mumbai Local Train

My everyday commute starts with churning some thoughts in my idle brain to wake it from hibernation. That (when I say churning) by the way reminds of a beautiful hindi word – Manthan, which literally means introspection through the process of push & pull of thoughts, through deliberation. I specify (by using "literally") this because of the usual twisting of words, meanings and there usage that at times I tend to indulge in, which by the way does not in any imply that I am good with words, it simply means (as of my good old college friend use to say) that spend them very casually.

Every day travel by the Mumbai local train is a manthan (again in the literal sense of the word), especially considering the twisting, churning and all such similar motions that one experiences inside a local train compartment. So much goes into it in different forms, at various stages of travel, here is a what a process flow of my daily train journey will be like –

· Stage 1 : Getting started – This is a stage is initiated/ triggered at the defining moments of my bus ride to the station. The moment I step out of the bus and start to walk towards the station a sudden realization of the crowd around, dawns me.

· Stage 2 : Brainwave at Platform # 2 – This is a stage at which I find myself in the safe company of a majority of Kanjur Marg civilization (civilization – coz of the sheer assortment of people you can find standing there – no offence intended) and I start to think why is that all people have developed a sudden liking for the 08:11 CST local. Is it that HT CafĂ© (a tabloid which seems to be the staple source of news and current affairs to people who travel via various public transports AND who have mastered the art of reading the newspaper while standing/ pushing/ pulling/ enduring a stampede/ engaging in or being audience to a verbal duet) have collectively declared it to the most happening train ride. I wonder.

· Stage 3 : Getting into the local – After using all my strategic intelligence (whatever is functional at that glorious moment) and tactics, finally I align myself (now I have started to understand how did study of trajectory and projectile motion become an integral part of 11th grade physics; off course not mention, like everything else this is also become outdated and irrelevant, I propose including Chaos theory of Modern Physics to make this subject more contemporary and applied) with a bunch of people. As soon as the train halts, something happens in the span of next 30 seconds. This span of half a minute is an acid test of whatever you have learned thus far about the art and science of traveling in a Mumbai local during peak hours (which usually span from 4 am till well past midnight). If are able to apply is correctly, you are in the train or else wait for the next local (which effectively means, you are back to stage 2).

· Stage 4 : In the line of fire – Stepping into a compartment is just half the battle (you still cant say whether you have won or lost). There is an all together different dynamics of motion that is followed, the inflow and outflow of the people in a fluid motion of high viscosity seems to be governed by an all together different intelligence. No where can a better live example of collective consciousness in motion be found. The constant shuffle, sort, re-arrangement and filing has a beauty of its own (which by the way, one day I got lost in admiring, and found myself promptly downloaded two stations before my destination).

· Stage 5 – Destination ahoy – This is a logical resultant of following at the previous steps, managing to stay steady in the compartment for 35-40 minutes and last but not least remembering to get down.

This is in short by typical one way journey to office :o)

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