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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Train of thought

Life’s definitely changed since I started on my new job. It’s a great place to work, there’s much to learn, new, quirky, fun people to work with and I’m really happy.. but there’s also another part I have to contend with. Traveling.

I’d never thought I’d be a part of the train crowd. When in college, I was free enough to bunk lectures, attend the late ones or was lucky enough to have them scheduled late. Basically it meant there wasn’t ever one particular bus I took. Or, on the rare days I ended up taking a train, it was always a different one. When I did give a thought to people who took the train everyday, I always ended up thinking “I hope I’m never among the, taking the same train everyday, rushing about worrying about train timings.. having a life ruled by the local trains.” But then. The fella up there likes his joke. And so, I did end up becoming a part of this crowd.

As such, its ok. I happen to travel in the peak hours, so getting a seat or not is an occurrence… you simply get used to it. I especially look forward to the time when the train’s crossing the Vashi bridge… there’s nothing but knots and knots of water for as far you can see…. Sky and sea merge seamlessly into the horizon.. I could gaze at it forever. .. in fact, this part of the journey is refreshing as there’s always a nice breeze whipping across your face… specially in the morning, when the air’s fresh, like someone up there had put out their laundry in the sun.. ok not exactly, but… fresh.

There is an entire cultural system that’s manifested in train travelers. Mumbaites would be aware. But for non-mumbaites, there are a few things that are very much a part of this culture, peculiar to it and are kind of fascinating. One is that of having ‘train friends’.. people who just take the same train as you everyday. They may or may not get down at the same station as you, but they’re as much your friends as the ones elsewhere, just that you tend to talk of train timings and work whinings and chivalrously get up for a bit while they take your seat. I haven’t made any train friends yet, but I am familiar with a lot of faces.

Another peculiarity is that of the bhajan group. I’m not sure of other trains. But two trains that I’ve taken successively, there is this group of ladies in the compartment who have this select list of hymns they start when the train leaves Vashi. The entire ‘playlist’ takes about 20 mins and they sing the same songs, in the same order everyday. They’re marathi hymns. But…. On the 8:48 train, the ‘group’ of ladies starts singing, but in effect, there’s just one lady you can hear. She has a deep, loud voice and I find her singing irksome firstly coz its tuneless as such, and she ruins it by singing it like she doesn’t mean to really. Now that’s dumb… do it with your heart in it lady! But the train after that, 8:52, there’s a group there, they sing the same songs as the group in the earlier train. But such a difference!!! This group has really sweet voiced people who sing it like they mean it and it sounds so beautiful!!!

And of course, all the time, at every station people get in and they invariably ask the people seated where they’re getting down.. they ‘book’ a seat so that they can sit for part of the journey at least. Sure you hear brawls sometimes… but where don’t you???

Then there are the vendors. They’re regulars too. There’s a bhel-waali maushi who is there every evening at VT for the 5:47 Vashi local. Then the earrings and hair-clip vendors who are regulars from Nerul and Sanpada. The odd men who bring mirror sets, ear-buds, key chains and what nots… the handicapped/blind ones who sell railway pass covers or other knick-knacks or sing for alms..

The there are the Beauties. I wonder how many people it has struck that some of the most beautiful women in the country may be found in the local trains. Especially in the morning. These are not your glam-dolls like on TV but the simple, graceful, well-dressed women you see everyday. I don’t speak for others, but there’s something about their simplicity, and the way they carry themselves that makes them seem more beautiful to me than any star I can compare with. Maybe it’s the glow on their faces, the one that says they’ve lived, faced things…

Occasionally, I also see slightly older women who are nevertheless beautiful. I always think “She must’ve been really beautiful in her youth.” Old or young, there is something about them that makes me want to talk to them, ferret out their stories coz I think they’re interesting. They have had experiences worth listening to. I get these ideas of going and saying “Hey, I’m authoring a book on train-life. You look like you have an interesting story to tell, mind if we talk?” But no, I know the value of privacy, and I happen to be shy too, so the actual talking never happens, its only my imagination that can only take me so far. Today, I saw this young girl, extremely beautiful, with her hair cut suggesting something of a rebellious streak… I could almost imagine her not wanting to be thought feminine.. she had lovely features, really beautiful lips and eyes that held something in them. I wish I could’ve talked to her.

Its rare that I get the window seat, I usually end up watching people… but there have been days when I’ve looked put of the window and seen something interesting. Like, as you near Dockyard road station, look up and you’ll see this hilly place like it is in a hill-station, dotted with green bushes and flowers… it makes me want to take a walk there.

Then, as you near Vadala Road station, there are houses and colonies to be found near the tracks. Little tings, hardly any size… but they have yards… most of them. And the yards have jasmine shrubs, little trees.. just like the homes in the small towns. And there are boys playing in the compounds… an utter ambience of bon-homie.. I wistfully wish I could live in such happy places with the shrubs in the garden and pick the flowers every evening.

I don’t know how long I can continue traveling like this, but while it lasts, I shall enjoy the little moments of interesting sights while I’m blessed with them.


  1. I'm thinking of applying for my post grad in mumbai as well, and a lotta ppl tell me that travelling is gonna be a major prob there... esp the local trains. But after readin ur post i'm actually lookin fwd to it!! :)

    Keep up d good work!

  2. Kshitij Mathur3:48 PM

    True, the local trains have a charm of their own, not to mention the uncanny resemblance to an entertainment hub..snacks, music, shopping...true malll experience, without the parking hassles.

    But it's not always like that, especially in Mumbai. Try travelling between Churchgate to Virar at 8:30 in the morning and you'll know it isn't all hunky dory. But then, it's all about the experience -- Good or Bad.

  3. Well of course its nit all hunky-dory... nothing ever is... but no one's is so utterly curesed that they cannot take a moment to appreciate the little things and the cute moments they encounter... i hope no one is

  4. Kshitij Mathur3:53 PM

    Hey I didn't say that. It's just one of the few things (good and bad) you encounter on a train...believe me, I'm an ardent lover of the trains.

  5. train-lover.... hahahhaha.. ok...

  6. Prashanth7:08 PM

    superb piece of writing!!!....really enjoyed reading it....first of all really good title 'Train of thoughts'( liked ur other title 'Fountain, pen' too)....and hey u relly have some observation powers madam.....neatly described ambience of Mumbai local train....and i especially liked that part 'nice breeze whipping over ur face'....i now wish that i could travel by a b'bay local train someday...and hope 2 meet u there....and hey dont shy away from me

  7. I could totally relate to your post. It's been a year now that I have been travelling in the locals, and if I get to travel in a less crowded train at times, I see some really pretty women and wonder how do they manage to look so good!!

  8. ramya6:51 PM

    wow...interestin journey...i really felt as if i enjoyed every moment of the journey along with u......u took me through all ur feelin yaar...n the title is perfect...i liked it...hey u ve wonderful observation...not to lose hope 2 travel wit u in such a train...

  9. amazing blog!!! reading it i could feel as though i was a part of the journey!! Bravo..

  10. Prashanth: thank you very much.. i hope you do visit someday.. and how could i shy away from my guardian angel?

    Sunshine: i like your pseudonym, used to have a friend whom i nicknamed that... used to think it perfectly complements dewdrop :) u know those ladies.. some take the effort to put on makeup.. but kostly, they look beatuful just like that.. guess its the morning frshness :) btw.. which route do you travel on?

    Ramya: Thank you too... i hope you also visit and allow me to take you around.. we'd have a lot of fun you

    Vipin: welcome to my blog.. thank you for the comment, hope you visit again :)

  11. creative_mind6:31 PM

    nice blog....went through some of your blogs...u have a flair of writing...and its evident from the fact that you did ur graduation in mass communication (went though your profile ;).

    You have good analytical skill..and you surely know how to pen them down.

    All the best for your future endavours.


  12. Creative_mind: YOU seem to have a flair for reading :) It's not everyone who takes the trouble to thoroughly browse a profile and even read the blog... thank you for your wishes, and all the best to you too, hope you visit again :)

  13. Anonymous7:56 AM

    Hey DewDrop! I read your post by a very strange co incidence. I am an aspiring animator and struggling enough not to let my grey cells go amok by constant thinking. So i am writing a small personal book named dew drop fountain which has all my so called 'future masterpieces' concepts of movies. So here am i by searching through google landing at your post, and you know what there is a connection between your thoughts and mine. But its just that, in my case I travel through buses.
    By the way I live in bandra !!