Ladies Compartment – Mumbai Locals

Vasudaiv Kutumbakam…say the vedas meaning…The whole world is a family :) and that is best reflected in the Ladies’ Compartments of the Local trains of Mumbai…How you may ask…Well, let me do the honours:)

The Mumbai Local Trains…

A class apart..while the world goes gaga about how it carries almost more than 6 million commuters daily, about being the highest passenger density of any urban railways in the world et al…some more experiences while traveling on a Mumbai Local train and nowehere else…

One of the days’ my journey back home in a Ladies Compartment…

So, over and above the unimaginable, slightly unbearable pungent mix of deos, perfumes and body odour and an air that is at the same time filled with

the scent of freshly made gajras of mogras and champas…out comes the basket of a woman another scent that was unthinkable to me, at least in a local train where people are either workbound or homeward bound…is the scent of fresh, skinned icy cold SHRIMPS….I almost jumped out of my seat the first time I encountered the sight of a steel plate filled with the light delicate orange and white bodied crustaceans making rounds in a bogey that had nothing but women on top of each other…and while I thought that would not be very was more than welcome…they were all SOLD OUT in flat 6 minutes :)

And even as I was recovering from the fastest SALE ever, there were more on Sale…no, not shrimps, but Delicates, Night Gowns, Pillow Covers, Cosmetics, Books that had barely hit the stands, Steel wool to wash utensils, hair accessories, to bhajipalas, fruits and chutneys to towels and talcs, games, toys and comics and notto forget Muft ki jadi booti too…

A Mall on the Move may I say…and no, you did not even have to find your way through the alleys and figuring out the shelves..everything came calling, right on your lap…and oh…Bargaining was strictly allowed and Welcome!

And as i marveled at the business opportunities that were available for all these entrepreneurs, someone shrieked from another corner of the compartment…and boy did she scream her guts out and scared everyone…but then she soon had a reassuring word from the ladies next to her and she heaved a sigh of relief…the shriek was for??? You may ask….well, the shriek was because a couple of teeny weeny rats went criss-crossing in between her legs and before she could save her senses, she felt roaches crawling up her back…and while she continued to yell and scream…a few good samaritan aunties just brushed the roaches aside and asked the hapless soul to sit with her leg up so the rats woudn’t bother her…How thoughtful…that is when out came the dialogue from one of the wiser ones in the compartment…Vasudaiva Kutumbakam…all world’s a family….so chill..don’t kill them…learn to live with them!


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And while the aunties assured the fleeting soul, out came a garma garam dabba from within the safe precincts of another damsel’s bad…a dabba full of samosas, wadas and dhoklas…and there it was, a mini feast of sorts…the girl forgot the roaches and the rats, the salespeople were gone, now was the time to feast in peace… :)

And of course the discussions were endless…right from an advice being given to an expectant mother to a description of the dinner that someone went out for for her anniversary, from bitching about a colleague and singing prasies about a boss, to discussing the techniques that Sachin should have had used in a match the previous day…oh, not-to-miss-the-Lovely-saree-why-this-necklace-and-why-no-make-up-today-new-gold-bangle-sasu-maa-ne-diya-discussions :)

And while there were of course some who fumed and fretted for not getting a seat to rest their tired bodies or who grumbled about a dirty train, some who were busy pulling each other’s braids and abusing the crazy hell at each other…trust me, I love all of this that makes my journey to work and home so amazing.

With my music plugged inside my brain (yeah..that’s the full volume on my fone), I barely can manage to hear my own thoughts…but the scenes like these are my everyday engagements and that makes the journey so worth it. There is salesmanship, comaraderie, fear and assurance, mothers and sisters, train friends and acquaitances, food and drinks, curses and blessings…there are saree days when the entire compartment is coloured with traditional drapes from various parts of the country with trinkets and bangles et al and amidst them you would find a city girl in her complete western attire working away on her laptop and enjoying every bit of India around her…

When I tell people I travel to Churchgate from Borivli everyday they think it’s a chore and sympathise with me…what they don’t realise is that there is a beautiful world out there in the quintessential Ladies’ Compartment in the Local Train that means MUMBAI…

Write in if you have experiences and anecdotes to share..I am sure you have also been witness to this-world-is-a-family Spirit :)


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