Saturday, November 21, 2009

If you're not touching you are not travelling !!!

You’d have heard of it, you’d have seen it but if u have not experienced it in person you can't even come close to what it is. Mumbai my friends is a city of hope, a city of surprises. Its a city that rocks, that shocks, the city that never sleeps,  the city that is lovingly refered to as "Mumbai Meri Jaan." . Well sometimes I wonder that if the "Mumbai", being referred to in feminine undertone was actually a living breathing female and still by reference was your Jaan, as much your neighbors jaan and so on s& o forth, then what would it make her ??? You may judge me for this remark as being a “sexiest bhaiya” but as long as Mumbai is not a lady it work’s just fine, and what do you know !! - in this city even if Mumbai of “Mumbai Meri Jaan” fame was a lady, it would still be fine. That’s how this city is. But rest your instincts, am not wasting my time and your’s on moral policing. Well actually in here, what I am referring to has none of it – “Morals” that is.

But we will save that discussion on moral high ground for some other time. "So what the hell is he talking about??" - If this is the question in your mind then read on.

Well geltlemen and gentleladies lets see what do I have in store to bore you with. Well  friends, we keep hearing opinions on Mumbai and Mumbaiyaas. Mumbai is not warm, Mumbai is too practical, Mumbai does not have a social life they say. And most of all - Mumbaikars are too practical to be in touch with people they know. Well whatever else you may say of this city, one thing that I am sure of is -- that all those saying that people here do not stay in “touch” are the ones who never have travelled in MUMBAI LOCAL !! And thats what i am gonna talk about.

Do not keep touch my foot,,, touch is all they do in there!!!

Mumbai local – the lifeline of amchi mumbai, the one force that keeps Mumbai moving, the one force that keep Mumbaikars on time – Mumbai and Mumbai local, meri jaan is all about “TOUCH”.
You just enter the train, and touch is all they’ll do. They’ll touch ur fingers, touch your hand, touch your arm, touch your feet, touch your neck, touch your butt, touch your belly, touch you with their belly, and before you know, the “things” of others that you would not even imagine in your worst dreams would be touching your “things” all over.

And the best part is that you can’t do anything!! There would be sweaty slippery smelly bodies slithering against one other, rubbing past you all the time and while doing so reminding you and giving you a feel of “what” all is present on their body and “what” is absent. And you still can’t do anything. You just stand there feeling violated, feeling being taken advantage of, ah well sometime feeling taking advantage of (depending on the position !!!), but this sense of discomfort would not last forever --- More often than not, in some time and without even knowing, you will ……. become one of them !!!

Whoever compared Mumbai to cities up north and said Mumbaikars are not warm is totally disillusioned. The beginning 8 months of my stay here and warthm is all I felt.

People are warm.

Warmth is all over. In fact so much of body heat I have shared with fellow commuters that I could so easily be the perfect brand ambassador for a “Hakim HARDON’s mardana takat davakhana”,,, only if this body heat have had been shared with the opposite sex in dreamy encounters that I could remember and recite. But no this came from sweating, panting, smelling, slithering bodies of all age, caste, creed color and sex.
While I am on the topic, I must admit one thing, that much to Raj Thakerey’s ire there is one force that unites all marathis and bhaiyas in here. That the moment they enter the train, all of them become S3 – sweaty, slippery and smelly. It does not matter then that you are a Marathi manoos or a northi Indian amaanoos. Anyways coming back to our focus – I feel in this city - Touch thy neighbor is the mantra.

Balancing is an art.

What acrobats practice and master after years mumbaikar knows from mothers womb. Balancing on footboard, balancing inside without holding anything, balancing on seat sitting 5 people when it is designed to seat only 3, balancing (bag-umbrella-mobile-vada pav) all in one hand while the other is holding the swinging handle on roof. All these are rare talents that people should be awarded for, the only trouble is no one looses here. Those who do, do not survive to board the churchgate fast next day. Anyways the best is balancing act is boarding while train is on move. Key I have noticed is observe, select space just enough to place half a shoe and then jump to sync with trains speed and all this is done in a fraction of second. You have to see this once to admire the beauty. I love it, I am sure you would to when u see it with an enlightened eye.

Fart is a weapon.

Fart might be a cause of embarrassment in other civilized worlds but here they use fart as a weapon. Well let me ask you this. You are squeezed in a confined space and have people pressing your sides, front and back. How do you make space? You can’t yell on people pressing against you for what all others including you is waiting for, is someone to do that and you get a free show for all the journey till your stop. You can’t force space around you coz well you may be Arnold’s long lost brother but it’s you against 200 around you and it’s not even a mithun movie. So with all conceivable tricks up your sleeve going boom, you need to look up ur arse. This is thinking out of box, well out of pants if you may say. But give them a feel of what you breakfast table looked like. If it was “mooli” paranthas, then GOD bless them. Disgusting it may sound but it works. Well now since I am writing this I will make it clear I have never used this from my side but have experienced it at the other end. And as explained in Newton’s fart law above I ended up making space for the other more “practical” person who dared to throw caution to wind. Well literally!!!

Looking outside is not an option.

If fart changes the odor dynamics of internal ecosystem the external space is not free from smell alarms either. Alarms announcing presence of fellow Homo sapiens outside the boundaries of train. Yes every local commuter in Mumbai witnesses every morning a sight that under normal circumstances you will pay to avoid. On you daily journey however you pay and yet you see courageous man, women and children easing themselves of the turmoil in their stomach right there alongside the tracks,,, well sometime on the tracks. Did I say courageous ??? Yes full of courage they are indeed. Just imagine someday you taking off your pants and squatting on the ground with hundreds of eyes watching you do the very act that you do behind closed door in the morning making bare minimal sound so as to not embarrass the family members you live with for years. And then you will realize what guts it requires. Interestingly though I believe it requires more than just guts. It requires balance, it require patience, it require strong legs and most importantly it requires immaculate talent of capacity management and an eye to pick the right spot as the playground is limited and the match is to be played every day,,, wel sometimes more than once in a day. But then even this does not deter our beloved Mumbaikars from traveling hanging on the gates of their darling local, looking outside, enjoying the sight of some free space along the track that otherwise is dotted by those daring individuals adding manure to the track side land making it fertile. I guess the problem is not so much from those sitting artists who are kind & brave enough to face their audience in trains while giving their solo performances. At least with that stance of theirs your sight might land on their faces and not their feces. It is the others who are cause for concern, if you know what I mean.

Spitting is an art

To get my argument please make a circle of your waist belt which is about a foot in diameter, put it in 10 inches in front of your mouth and now try spitting through it, without moistening your face, lips or the belt. I bet 9 out of 10 times you won’t get a clean shot. Now imagine the target hole shrinking down to a 1 inch rhombus and target spit not a small harmless pit but a stream of red beetle juice. And yet they make it look so easy. There is goes out of that small vent and all side are so clean that you can go and kiss them. Only if “Ripleys belive it or not” guys were watching.

Talk u must.

If you are travelling alone and you want to survive then you must have a player and headset or you must talk. Talk about same things. Well you can't change the topic. The science is that the person who is listening spends thoughts on things to share and is waiting for his turn to speak up and u cannot deny him the chance. If you must change it has to follow a pattern. Like Elections cannot go to sports it has to advance to same territory like govt – police – corruption - …… - and sex. OR sports - sports endorsements - drop in performance - …… - and sex. OR reality shows – scandals – celebrities - ….. - and sex. Oh I almost forgot to mention, no matter what it starts with it has all to end in sex and a dirty joke. The most filthy joke would come from the most aged person in the group. Well experience does count u see.

I am not racist but please ‘o’ please avoid people from the land of “Modi”

Friends trust me, watch for gujju groups and keep safe distance. And before you kill me for defaming the  the great gujju brethren, let me say this is for those killer groups traveling in Ghatkopar-Dadar local.  Believe you me they squeal like pigs, laugh like Siddhu, look like dilruba and talk like they are getting a dollar for every word they speak. The only time they would be silent is when their mouth is stuffed with namkeen, papad or gathiya. And then they speak again. Can’t remember how many times I have given myself apne parents ka “wasta” to stop myself from jumping off the train. When you hear them talk you feel like pulling off your arm just so that you 'd have something to through at them. Rumor is that Mumbai police uses these grops to get information out of seasoned criminals. Those who don't break by torture break under half an hour in this company!!!

Well friends my general knowledge on the Mumbai local gyaan was just increasing when my office guys played spoil sport and transferred the office to a location where I did not need to board the local train. I loved it when that change came, but now that I think of it, I do miss that 15 min Ghatkopar-Dadar experience. It is a school, that is the only one of its kind. You love to hate it. But if you look deep deep inside you do miss it.

Ah well for those who don’t share my platonic relation view with local keep looking deep, deep, deep, … down. If nothing else it sure will help you not to get you fellow travelers breath on ur face.

Happy travelling !!!!


pooran said...

It's hilarious.... TOUCH ho gaya main toh..

R Athmanathan said...

Well written i must say.. Especially the gujju part - very true !!! The journey from Dadar to CST used to be chilled out though - Suddenly you feel as if you have just come out of coma and are able to breathe again...
I am waiting for one more on Marathi manoos Vs bhaiyyas.. That would be a good one...

Brijesh said...

Nov 21, TOI front page: Shiv Sena vandalises IBN offices in Mumbai and Pune. Editor and staff members attached.

Seems you will have to wait for a detailed analysis of marathi manoos.

achu said...

waw..its hilarious....well i complement this article with stories inside ladies compartment:-)

Champ said...

Absolutely hilarious!!!! You've TOUCHED every single "funny bone" in me that I am rotfl.

padmaja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
padmaja said...

Enjoyed it!!!

Simi said...

good one
You really miss the local :)

mayank said...

very well written though at some places you really stooped down... avoiding noises behind closed doors! aaah.
i hated my travel in trains and still avoid it all costs.