Trials and tribulations of local train travel

Trials and tribulations of local train travel

A friend, who recently travelled in the CST-bound ladies special, related an interesting episode that only goes to reaffirms the belief of Mumbai’s suburban rail network being its lifeline. Our friend boarded the first class compartment at Thane station and soon found herself amongst a group of enthusiastic ladies, who were mostly in their middle ages. Needless to say, they were all working women, travelling to their respective offices. They travelled together every single day, though each one boarded at different stations, were headed towards different destinations and worked for different organisations. For these ladies, their morning journey a time to unwind, a time they relish with their "train pals."

As the ladies special halted at Mulund, the compartment was suddenly filled with the sound of greetings and good wishes. Apparently, one of the ladies who got in was celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary on the day and was an integral member of this group. A well thought-out celebration then followed. She was immediately offered a place to sit and then everyone then sang a song for her. The atmosphere was euphoric – and to think of, it was after all, a ladies first class compartment of a suburban train! Then, the group presented the anniversary-girl with a gift (an idol of a Deity) and an anniversary card, who in turn distributed sweets (Prasad) to everyone in the compartment, including our friend. And that was not all. She then presented a return-gift to every member of her group – a nicely wrapped steel jar for their kitchens! Well, the celebrations continued throughout the journey and the women seemed to enjoy themselves completely. The camaraderie they shared was visibly contagious and also symbolic of the undying spirit of the vibrant twin cities of Mumbai and Thane.

As for the train travel, however much we despise it, whine about its poor services and criticise the sorry state of its facilities, we cannot do without suburban train services. Proof of this is evident in the fact that suburban trains of Mumbai endure the highest passenger density in the world! Isn’t it remarkable then, that these frazzled passengers figure out such fantastic ways of putting up with the travails of travelling in the red-yellow coloured, wheeled coaches?

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