Push, Pull, Push


Push- Pull- Push. These are the three magic words that allow “Mumbai kars” to travel safely in the super efficient local trains.

It’s quite amazing how the trains run by the clock, as if some genius controls their precise movements.

What is even more fun to watch, are the variety of techniques that travelers apply to make their traveling comfortable and joyous. That includes playing cards, singing songs and hymns, performing poojas for their gods or just idle chit chat about the nine-to-five of their lives.

The people traveling in the train are great subjects for the observant. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be categorized as follows-

1. The Rookie- He is the beginner/ tyro/ freshman- whatever name you call him; “confusion” is still his middle name. He gets in the wrong trains, stands at the wrong places, alights at the wrong stations, asks directions from the wrong people and gets pushed, pulled, cussed and sometimes beaten for the wrong reasons. He is over awed by the awesomeness of this place and is generally still uncomfortable with his environs.
2. Mr. Impeccable – These gentlemen are the upper crest. They are immaculately dressed, hair (if any) is precisely parted, shoes are shined and re shined, clothes have sharp creases and they prefer others to be at least 5 inches away from them. This distance is so sacred to them that they get very livid if its’ breached.
3. The Bullies- These are the gentlemen who think of their lives as nothing less than a blockbuster “masala” flick. They are dressed like their favorite bollywood stars, swear in the latest and choicest abuses, are frequent tobacco chewers and are always seen in packs. The seats where they sit are not to be touched by the common man. Their specific standing places too, are reserved for them.
4. The Veterans- These gentlemen are the “reverend” ones. They have been traveling in trains for a good 20 years now, from the same place to the same place. They are extremely well versed in the skills of traveling. They know the precise trains to catch, the specific places to stand at and the specific acrobatic skills to be performed to be the first ones to grab a seat. Ask them to spell the train time table backwards, they would do that too in a a few seconds.
5. The Inseparables- An extremely popular species in Mumbai, they are glued to each other. They will get inside the trains holding hands( in the most crowded trains) and will still hold hands while they alight from it. They will not spare an opportunity to flirt with their partners and might be a little embarrassing to the prudish. They can be seen hugging, kissing, and cuddling each other in public view and are least bothered about what’s going on around them
6. The Loud Speakers- Another popular species, the train is their personal space. Be it a haggling wife, an incompetent employee, a co worker or their lovers, their conversations with each of the above are “loud and clear” and for everyone to hear.
7. The Primates- This species is on the verge of extinction now, thanks to the strict rules and regulations nowadays. They still have their ancestral skills and can cling, jump, sit on roof tops, snatch things from people’s hands, and perform other acrobatics that are identifiable with the primates of the world.
8. The Observant- These are a rare species in Mumbai. Their sole purpose of traveling is to reach their destination at the earliest. They rarely interact with anyone and have their loud music playing into their head phones. They enjoy the “pulls pushes and pulls”, the abuses hurled at them ( at times) as this gives them more “meat” to write on. Once the “meat’ is cooked and ready, it finds itself served on their personal blogs.

The local trains have certainly a long way to go before they provide comfortable rides to the common man. But for me, a student of human nature, they provide me with excellent education. To see interactions among these myriad characters and the consequences of such communication is a learning experience in itself.


~ by Shreeraj on August 12, 2011.

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