Mumbai Local Trains- True spirit and lifeline of this city

In our last blog we presented our take on the stress we Mumbaikars face while commuting and using the public transport. – In our last blog we presented our take on the stress we Mumbaikars face while commuting and using the public transport.

Now let’s look at another side of it… Life in a Mumbai Local… Millions of people who have been and will be using this amazing mode of commuting in this city of dreams will feel deja vu and for other non-Mumbaikars this will be little insight that ‘it’s not just a train ride to work but so much more’…

First of all, a big ‘thank you’ to the British Raj – for giving Mumbai its ‘lifeline of commuting’, the Railways. Nobody’s a real ‘Mumbaikar’ if they have not travelled in the local trains and come home smiling or sometimes, frowning.

Millions of people use this vast and extensive Mumbai railway daily to commute to work and so. The western, central and harbour railway networks are the lifeline of the city. The city would come to a near standstill of these networks would stand still even for a day.

Some Mumbaikars literally live in these trains if you consider the time they travel to work and back. It’s an altogether different social world that evolves during the peak morning and evening traveling hours and
dissolves thereafter to evolve again the very next day.
People from varied cultures, from various parts of the country who have migrated to Mumbai… The Rags… The Riches… and the Middle class all become a Mumbaikar when they board a Mumbai local…

It sometimes frustrates you, but at the same time the train ride also gets a smile on your face. To know what I mean, one needs to sit at Church gate station or Borivali station or VT or Virar and observe people. Here, people become marathon runners; they don’t want to miss that 9.25 local. It’s a matter of life and death to miss a train – even if the next train arrives in just 4 minutes.

If you are a newcomer, the crowd will probably make you feel claustrophobic, but if you are a regular, it will make you feel everything is fine. Remember, a lack of crowd at Mumbai’s railway stations indicates either a public holiday or that something is amiss.

Local trains in Mumbai are the best place to learn life’s lessons. The train teaches you how to fight your own battles and make a place for yourself in the crowd, it teaches you how to make friends with people, strangers mostly, and adjust with all species of people, something we humans need the most for survival. It teaches you how to handle a dominating mother-in-law, how to love your naïve daughter-in-law, how to cook, how to bargain, the inside and out of share markets, gold prices, and many many more things and of course, it teaches you how to sing in front of strangers. The cost for all this is simple bear the push and punches in the local trains, overcome claustrophobia in crowded places, get used to the crowd and noise around you and be ready to share, care and listen.

In these local trains, you see the real face of Mumbai. It tells you about the kind of people Mumbai is made of. One could be a stern boss in the office, but he is a friendly person in the train. The nice woman who is always ready with a smile for a stranger could be a strict, dominating person at home. You get to see nice, caring, and friendly people always ready to help and you also see scary, bitchy, frustrated people who always want to pick fights.
Here people make friends out of unknown people, share their life’s sorrows, and throw parties when they achieve something. People make these small train compartments and the people inside them their extended families, a part of their lives. Those 45 minutes to two hours of travel time become their welcome break from the hectic lives they lead. Movies and TV serials have been made on Mumbai locals.

Hence it becomes a matter of life and death when people miss their regular local. The Mumbai local teaches us Mumbaikars how to survive, how to live and enjoy no matter what.

It truly reflects the Spirit of Mumbai.


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