Friday, April 02, 2010

Slow Local

When in Mumbai, do what Mumbaikars do. Which means you need to screech a lot at everyone around. Be bossy, impolite and pushy (and I mean literally 'pushy' - that is you 'push' people away, even if they are not in your way!). And, you travel by local trains.

Actually, you cannot avoid the local train bit, even if you want to. Fastest and cheapest (ok, maybe buses would be somewhat cheaper but then you actually feel you have aged a little by the time you get off the bus), traveling by local trains becomes a necessary evil.

And they are always jam-packed. No matter what time you take the train and in which direction. Even First class! Ok, as many of you will know, my cribbing will have no end, so let me stop right here and start with what I actually intended this blog to be about.

People you are likely to meet in a (packed) Mumbai Local Train:

The Gujju Stock Broker (and his gang) - Sitting on top of each other in some corner playing cards, or standing in the doorway discussing stock movements, property prices and what not (and, unintentionally am sure, blocking the entry/exit), mirthful, teasing each other on silly things like 'teri pant kitni tight hai', laded with jewelery of all sorts - chains, bracelets, earrings, rings, diamond-studded-shirts - seriously! (and, yeah, gold is passé, they prefer platinum now!) - you just can't miss the Gujju gang in a Mumbai local. They speak only in Gujarati and hence, it might be difficult to follow the entire conversation - but what I like about them is their being so full of joy, energy and jest, all the time. While I did get irritated at 'all the loud banter' first, I have begun to like such gangs. They, somehow, find a reason to smile, a reason to joke, a reason to have fun. 

The Motu Uncle - He will push his way through, occupy as much space as five people and then give you a dirty look that would say 'don't mess with me'. They rarely apologize after nearly crushing you to death. As a co-passenger once commented (after a Motu Uncle started squeezing him) - "Uncle, aapko gym hi jana padega. Aise dabane se pet kam nahi hoga" :)
Though, occasionally, having a Motu Uncle in front of you, when you have to get off a crowded train, does have its benefits. You can easily pass through after he has cleared his way. Just ignore the massacre all around.

The Gunda - He is rude, loud-mouthed and found mostly in Virar fast. He won't let you get onto the train, he won't let you get off. He will be a nuisance in general. He is occasionally with his other gunda friends, when he creates twice as much trouble for others. He will chew tobacco and spit everywhere. He will blow smoke in co-passengers' faces after smoking a beedi. He particularly hates UP Bhaiyas. He will abuse and crib. You will find it easy to hate him.
An advice: You should always ignore him - though the temptation to sucker-punch him or push him off the moving train would be very intense.

The College Nerd - He is the standard studious type. He will carry a huge bag filled with books. Even in a crowded train where people can barely stand, he will have the uncontrollable urge to take out a book and study. And this is no Calcutta where studious kids are offered seats by other passengers. Geeks like me will associate with him but when, in the jostling crowd, you realize that he is taking up extra space, you start giving him dirty looks. 

The Newspaper Freak - He is the grown-up version of the College Nerd. His books are replaced by Newspapers now. He has embarked on this impossible mission to read the entire paper before the train reaches his destination station. He takes multiple poses while reading the newspaper (some of which look inspired from Kamasutra).  

Mr. 'I-don't-believe-in-bathing-at-all' - He is the smelly kind. No more words.

Hairy Harry - These are uncles with an overgrowth of hair on their heads. Now, now, I am not making fun of them because of envy at their hare-bhare gardens. But in crowded trains, they tend to shake their heads a little too often which means that those standing around them will be gifted with loving strokes of their tresses. Best is when the Uncle in question has a penchant for applying smelly hair-oil. You will actually achieve a state of eternal bliss when a strand of oily hair brushes past your face. 

Raasta bhatki Aunty Occasionally, a lady will board the unisex compartment (mind you there are no men's compartments) and then all hell will break loose. Men, who have accepted the kicking and jostling as part of their lives, will be forced to behave appropriately - try fruitlessly to save that poor woman from the torture that mortals are subjected to in a Mumbai local.

Mumbaiya Tapori - He is the milder version of the Gunda.He tries to boss around but gets shooed away by other passengers. He lacks the evil look and tries to make up for it by using a lot of swear-words. He is the wannabe Gunda. Maybe he will never achieve the same perfection. But he tries for what he is worth. 

The Gay - You find them everywhere. And you gradually learn to ignore them. And, frankly, in a crowded train it is difficult to identify who is trying to molest (if guys can be molested at all!) you and who is just another victim. A warning though: Some of them get pretty aggressive if you continue to ignore them. And, a dirty look will suffice to ward them off.

The 'madly-in-love' couple - Coochey-coo couples, falling over each other. Thankfully, this variety avoids crowded trains. They, instead, choose to do PDA (public display of affection) on the platform.

Oye Chakka Chakka oye - They run India's largest extortion racket. First class compartments are well within their reach.

The Chotu Ustaad - The modern-day dwarf. He cannot reach the overhead bars. He is usually crushed between bottoms and has to shriek to make others notice him. He will hold on to you like you are his long-lost-kumbha-mela-wala brother. Though he is particularly crafty in squeezing past people in crowded trains.

The Mandir ka Pujari - This gang sits together chanting mantras and hanuman chalisa. They often occupy an entire compartment. And also distribute tasty prasad after their puja is done :) 

Now, now, this is definitely not an exhaustive list - but I had fun writing it :)


PRATIK said...

ha ha ha....cant stop laughing after reading this... good and privilidged to read it first and comment on it... cant forget the Motu uncle and the Gujju clan...also the gay one was also good...well described the "Mumbai Locals"... hope to see and read more articles on ur blog very soon...

Kavity said...

Welcome back to blogging.. Looking forward to more frequent updates on the blog!

Anonymous said...

positive comment :-)

chitra said...

Patwari! enjoyed reading your blog!!
I actually imagined some of the characters while reading your description! :)

may said...

clearly spells out ur frustation :(

Priyanka said...

Its hilarious!! Gr8 Job!! :)))

praveen said...

Hehe. Used to see this Chennai local trains.Could relate to so many people.

Come down to Mangalore, devoid of all this cacophony. Living in a small village has its own advantages. :)

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