Its been a little over a year now since I have been using the Bombay trains to commute around this madness that I have been slowly falling in love with. This madness called Bombay.
For quite some time now I have been realizing that something is changing. I will not say “Something has changed”, maybe because its an ongoing process but mostly because the word ‘changed’ would provide a sense of finality I do not want to accept. The thing that is changing, is well Me.
Its true that all cities change you, as much as all people that you get close to invariably change you.
But Bombay is a beast. A beast with a pretty face and the ugliest guts. She changes you at her own extreme customized pace. She changes you faster depending on how much you interact with her. By interact, I mean commute. Moving around from North Bombay to South Bombay, using the taxis, using the Rickshaws, using the metro, using the fucking trains. By interact I mean get lost in her markets, walk among her crowds, get shoved by the same crowd. You could live a year in Versova, but if that is the extent to which you experience this city then you will not change all that fast.
The things about a person changing is that more often than not we won’t be able to realize it. Since you do not change overnight. So when do you realize that you are changing?
Well it is usually when you observe how you behave in certain situations instinctively as opposed to how you use to behave in the same situation before.
My situation: The Bombay Trains.
When I first got to Bombay, I would stand when I was in the train. I almost never sat in the train, unless it was a late night commute. Soon I started footboarding (standing at the edge of the open doorways to the cabin). Then for quite a while I would only Footboard. Once I became a part of the daily commute, I would sit. Just like everyone else.
When I first got to the city, I would listen and watch. The colours, the people, the passing stations, the slums by the tracks. Soon after that I would listen to my music while I watched Bombay through the cabin windows. Now I listen to my music and spend the entire journey staring at my phone texting or playing games. Just like everyone else.
When I first got to the city, when I first started sitting while using the trains. I was considerate. There is an old situation about the Bombay trains, that almost everyone knows about or has discussed. Its the four people on a seat situation. You see the seat is big enough to hold four people just about comfortably, if all of them occupy equal space. But normally only three people will sit, because why would everyone occupy equal space?
So when I first got to the city, I would always make space for the fourth person, if I was the third on the bench. Ungrudging, politely since I knew I would still be comfortable. Now?
Now if I am the fourth person I try my best to make everyone on the bench occupy equal space so I am comfortable. But if I am the third and a fourth is asking for place, I give him a look of disdain, then move about three inches.
Just like everyone else.
That brings us to today morning and the reason I am writing this post.
This morning the train was crowded. But it has been a lot more crowded on other days.
This morning it was raining. But it has rained a lot more on other days.
This morning the train was late. But it has been a lot more late on other days.
This morning someone threw up in the train.
We had just passed Andheri Station, the next station was Jogeshwari. The station I get off at. The train was stuffy and crowded. The smell of vomit filled the cabin. I knew that someone somewhere had thrown up, all I could think was “Ok make sure you do not step on it”. The crown, was lining up for the crazy exchange that would take place at the next stop.
That’s when it happened.
Someone was shouting at someone. I could not see them they were closer to the open doors of the cabin. Someone wanted to get to the door, because he was unwell, he wanted to throw up more. Someone else would not let him pass, stating the train was packed there was no space. Now someone else was shouting. This someone was a woman. Suddenly the shouting started escalating. Now the entire cabin was getting excited. I could sense that something was about to happen. Everyone around me suddenly went from just doing what they did everyday to alert. Everyone were interested. Now they started shouting too. Saying things like “Beat the Sister fucker”, “How dare he, the mother fucker” etc. Most of them were saying it to egg them on. To actually see a fight. “Beat him” “Fucking hit him” “Are you only going to shout” “Does not look like you have balls to hit him” “gay fuck, hit him already”.
It was not like they could even see them, they just wanted a fight.
By now the yelling from the crowd, was almost drowning out all other noise. They ones involved in the brawl, started to scream louder. It was really like the entire cabin was one organism of sorts. It was like even if the ones involved in the brawl did not want to actually get violent they no longer had a choice. The shouting leering crowd now controlled them.
“Fuck you, bastard”
“Fuck yourself motherfucker”
“Did you just push me, How dare you? I am a lady”
“Now you are going to fucking get You shoved the lady”
“Beat the sister,mother fucker! He shoved a lady”
The blows started.
I have told you the train was crowded, now everyone started shoving forward. We were still between stations just about getting to Jogeshwari station. The crowd was trying to push to where the fight was. I really do not think the crowd was even realizing what it was doing any longer. I do not think anyone was seeing clearly. So if you have not realized yet, this is where things were getting fatal.
The ones fighting, were fighting but at the same time the crowd was shoving them to the open doors. From where they could fall. So they were fighting a fight they were forced to fight at the hands of the same crowd that was now trying to KILL them.
Two things saved anyone from dying on this train today.
One:Some of the people who were already at the door, realizing the danger they were in started pushing back at the crowd and breaking up the fight. Two: The train was reaching Jogeshwari station and therefore started to slow down.
What the Fuck were they trying to do? What the fuck were you doing, train? What the fuck were you doing? What the fuck? What the fuck? Were you trying to kill them? Would you have pushed them off the train, while you tried to get a better look? What the fuck were you trying to do, Bombay train?
Just before I end this, I would like to come to the me of it all. What the fuck was I doing while all this happened? Here I will put down the exact thoughts I was having:
“Ok OK, make sure you do not get any puke on your self. Fuck this, will I be able to get off at my station? Maybe if i start pushing! Yes that’s right push! Hey everyone is pushing too, If I push and they all push, I am sure I shall be able to get off at my station.”
Just like everyone else.