Thursday, April 16, 2009

Life @ Mumbai- i am lovint it !

I had to take a long break from the blogger space as I had to shift to Mumbai for my Summer Internship. So now that I am settled here, am back :-) to blogging.

I am here at Mumbai for about 2 weeks now and it feels great. This article is about Mumbai the city where you would find EVERYthing in every sense of the term. ;-)
I stay at a place call Thane and my office is at Fort – for those who do not know Mumbai, these are like the opposite poles of the city. So I travel for 2 hours one way daily. This is about those two hours. I have t o leave at 7.45 am, from my house, and till I reach the station at 8.10 am, everything is normal just like any other city- people trying to be on time to office, kids carrying a Heavy bag, waiting to board the school bus. The moment I step inside Thane station, I realize what is the "real Mumbai" – A completely different world that is!
Let me describe this part as vividly as I can. As I get down the bus and start walking towards the station I see a mob ( at least that’s what it looks like :D ) , walking along with me , it’s the most common thing they show in movie about Mumbai , but experiencing it, is different , all of us walking , no actually running to catch the local train , and not 10 or 20 but hundred of us ,walk in the same direction with the same pace , the first day I felt I was a zombie as I was doing mechanically the exact thing which hundreds around me were doing running towards station. You cannot think to stop in the road, because there are dozens of people behind you and if you do dare to stop, you would not only get nasty looks but a few nasty words too, your crime – pausing in the middle of the pavement. Which made them also reduce their speed thus waste a fraction of their precious time. So here I was running towards platform number 1, to board Thane local. I always take trains starting from thane, because the other trains are so crowded that in order to board the train I would have to fight like a Spartan, and I am not kidding, though by boarding those trains , I could save around 30 minutes , but I think I prefer comfort over time . That does not mean thane local goes empty, but thane being the starting station I thankfully get a seat to occupy. Much before the train actually comes to platform number 1. A large crowd waits in the platform, and the moment the train enters the station, these people pounce on it. The scene is very similar to a jungle (pardon me mumbaikars ) where a hungry tiger pounds over a helpless rabbit , the scene at any station in Mumbai , in office hours looks exactly similar , the difference - instead of one tiger , here there are hundreds of human and instead of one rabbit you have one train . All this fight is for a seat near the window.
I wait patiently till these people win their war and occupy a window seat; Then I get in and am more than happy to find just any seat. The next one hour I had initially planned to listen to music, but things don't always turn out as we expect them to be.
There are around at least 10-12 stations between Thane and CST, and right from the next station I witness extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. Sitting on a corner seat I was trying to enjoy the moment by listening to my favorite song. But the moment the train halted rather, I should say the moment the train enters the next station, a huge mob fanatically enters the compartment (this is the scene with all compartments at almost all stations). We all have seen those mosquito advertisements, where a host of mosquitoes enter a house and spread in all the corners of the house – it’s the exact scene here, these people believe in optimization of space, they do not leave any place where a person can place his feet. between two parallel seats there are at least 4 people standing, oh and in each seat there are 4 people sticking to each other (seat was designed for 3 people of average built to sit)!!! I was left questioning myself as to how do these people travel like this , daily throughout the year , I was glad that I could board the train at the source (thane) and at least had a place to sit .
The next 1 hour, I witness extraordinary things. though these things are very normal for any mumbaikar, but to me it was nothing less than watching Ripley's believe it or not. Imagine the following scenes

•The compartment is packed with people to such an extent that even though I was sitting I was not able to move my legs even by a mm, and in this crowd I could see atleast 10 men who were standing amidst the crowd, reading newspaper. It is amazing to see how perfectly they not only balanced themselves, but also the way they turned pages of the paper. The paper was also specially folded in a manner befitting the situation. The crowd around them did not matter to them; all that mattered to them was the news article they were reading. I really salute these people who manage to make best of a crowded train journey.

•The second kind of extra ordinary people are the "tall" people, since the average man comes only to the shoulders of such people, it's amazing to watch such tall people travel. It's like watching a giraffe walk with pride among goats :). All of them not only enjoy the cool breeze of the fan right above their heard but they are happy as atleast they do not have their noses touching bodies of other people , who by the way do not smell pleasant . One particular incident was really hilarious , I once got in a wrong train , and hence did not get a place to sit, I was standing hugging my bag (in such crowded compartments it is very easy to snatch a bag and run ) , and right in front of me there was a TALL man , enjoying the free space he gets as all of us reached only up to his shoulders , He was crunching away a packet of biscuits happily , it was petty annoying then . I mean imagine you are packed in a compartment , and are forced to smell "weird" smells, you cant even move a hand to scratch your back , you are completely wet , not only by your own perspiration but also by others equal contribution and there is this man right in front of you eating away to glory !! Though it was irritating then , now when I think of it , its really funny .LOL

•The third kind of people are the young love birds who travel in the compartment , first of all its not that I am against PDA ( public display of affection) , but c'mon in a crowded compartment PDA looks not only stupid but disgusting . It really amazes me to see atleast two couple's every evening on my way back to thane making complete use of the crowded compartment, and making "no space" as an excuse to stand hugging each other and making full use of their hands of course over each others body. The rest is like watching a movie- a stupid romantic one.

This is what I witness twice daily , although now I have learnt to ignore these and simply enjoy music being played on my phone . Occasionally a good book is an equally good distraction .
Once I get down at CST, it’s the same mob scene again , all walking like zombies towards one direction .Then the day at office and the cycle continues .

However mumbaikars teach a lot of lessons , in these two weeks I have learn the following:

•Mind your own business – people do what they want to do, and no one complains . This is the best thing of the city .

•Respect Time – People reading even in crowded compartments shows the immense value for time which they have , and the passionate desire to utilize this time is what I really respect in them

•The spirit to fight – in a positive sense .it truly is admirable to see everyone fighting daily , and not only are the youth who fight but the women, elderly all fight daily and with the equal spirit as that of a youth . This spirit is amazing .I had listened in TV shows that "Mumbai doesn't Stop". It’s the first time I witnessed the actual depth of this meaning .

This truly is going to be an interesting stay . I am here at Mumbai till June, and will write down more interesting experiences  till then wish me luck for internship.