Monday, March 30, 2009
The two men sang in a typical pity-evoking voice, one’s arms resting on the other’s shoulders, both visually handicapped. This is not an uncommon sight in a local train compartment in Mumbai. I wondered at their choice of song as I rummaged inside my bag for a coin. Yes. Everyone in a train compartment in the rush hour is a ‘musafir’ heading frantically towards their destination leaving so many things and people behind. This city is on its toes round the clock. Who has got time here? Anyway, it’s not about that. This all is a part and parcel of every mumbaikar’s daily life. I just thought it would be fascinating to write about the local trains of Mumbai and the equally interesting journeys that they offer.
I don’t know much about what travelling in a general compartment is like. But I can vouch for the enthralling world of a ladies’ compartment. I guess male readers will be more drawn towards this piece that will give them a sneak peek into the dabba they so wish to know about. After all, it’s a complete women’s world put together. Skinny women, curvy women, fair women, not-so-fair women, women in jeans, women in saris, women speaking English and women speaking in dialects that are hard to interpret. Basically, women from all walks of life brought together in a little cubicle, congested or airy depending on the time of the day you are travelling at.
Here, you can find women of all types. There are some who are dead against wasting time. You will find them engaged in knitting stuff. The other intellectual few indulge in solving crosswords and Sudoku. And there are others like me who kill their time staring at the above mentioned categories for reading in a ladies’ compartment is less rewarding than observing the different facets of life. There are a few who save all their telephonic conversations for this time. And thanks to the Indian vocal pitch, you get to know everything that’s going on in their bedrooms as well as boardrooms. Needless of saying, that makes the journey interesting! It’s not very comfortable to strain our ears to satisfy the Nosey Parkers in us. Sometimes, it can get a little embarrassing. The other day, I saw an elderly woman flinch and change her seat as the young chick sitting beside her uttered some sweet nothings to her boyfriend ( that’s purely a guess, but who else can it be ?).I also noticed the changing countenance of a woman as two other sat discussing their family problems attracting the attention of the entire compartment.
How can I miss the vendors who try their best to arouse the inherent buyer in a woman! Safety –pins to dress materials and everything in between…you can buy them in a train. Chocolates, flowers, combs, scrubbers, pens, lipsticks… and if you have the audacity to announce your size, even undies. But believe me, you can’t resist impulse buying when you see the colorful and cheap hair clips and trinkets. Didn’t I tell you? It’s a complete womens’ world. There’s enough life to be seen in the lifelines of Mumbai.