THINGS TRAIN TRAVEL TEACHES YOU

Ever since the author of this article has begun traveling about 130 kilometers a day in the name of education, the author of this article has learned a lot. To enumerate a few,

  1. Punctuality

This comes into play especially if you are-
A. Traveling a very long distance to a station which only one type of train stops at (like maybe Vasai)
B. A student who has an extremely strict and punctual teacher taking the first period of the day
C. Traveling by a mode of transport which is totally unpredictable (like the early morning Harbor line trains).

You know if you miss that one specific 7:18 Wadala, you’re going to be screwed. You know missing that one train will cascade down to not getting another train for the next twenty minutes, not getting entry into the first class of the day, and most importantly not getting that precious attendance. So you WILL move your arse early morning, maybe even skip your breakfast or your bath (or, god forbid, both) to get to that elusive 7:18 Wadala.

And if you get to the station and see the train just pulling onto the platform, it’s like a scene from a Bollywood movie- that one where the heroine is going away in the train and the hero has to get to her exact window seat in the exact dabba to be able to tell her he loves her. Remember how he pushes and shoves everyone in the crowd? It isn’t that romantic in real life.

Also that scene in Yeh Jawaani Hain Deewani (yes, I watch a lot of Bollywood) where Ranbir is trying to convince Deepika to get onto the moving train because Manali will be fun? Imagine your friends standing at the door instead of Ranbir and saying “Chal bhaag nahi toh ABCD Sir ka lecture miss ho jayega! Bhaag Hera, bhaag!”

Yeah, not so heart warming.

 

  1. The use of apps like mIndicator, even if you’re technologically challenged

“Oh shit, we missed the 7:18 Wadala. Check when the next Panvel train is!”
”Oh shit, the 135 which goes to Dockyard just passed me, check when the next 135 comes!”
”Oh shit, we missed even the 7:40 Wadala. Check kar Dadar-Kurla-Kharghar kitna time lagta hain nah?

mIndicator and Google maps are very very useful while traveling by public transport, especially if the station is far away from you or if you’re traveling far away. mIndicator and maps is also helpful if you decide to go exploring around the new place and get lost or have a tiff with a rickshaw drive who then refuses to take you wherever you want to go. In places out of Bombay, like Virar and Thane (apologies, the author will always be a townie at heart) there are these funny contraptions called rickshaws, which collect at specific strategic locations called rickshaw stands. Now, the humans who operate these contraptions-
A. Are very united. Really, they could even lecture the Parliament on that topic.
B. Tend to try to fit their contraption into the smallest of spaces and openings
C. Can be ill tempered
D. Tend to act very pricey

Rickshaws line up at rickshaw stands and you must hail them as they come. Which means if you piss one driver off, you piss off the entire queue (refer to A). Another commonly faced problem is bargaining with them, especially if you’re not from that area and don’t know the rates (refer to D). These humans do not know of meters. A meter is just another contraption that must be placed in their bigger contraption, because the rules say so.

So, when you go to a rickshaw stand and say, “bhaiyya XYZ ko jaana hain.” and the driver says, “One million dollars lagega.” you tend to mentally tell him to go to hell and decide to just walk it or take a bus. Only, you don’t know the roads or the buses. Hail mIndicator and maps, your saviors! Now, mIndicator even has a red and blue logo, like the colors of Superman. It isn’t even a coincidence.

Another time mIndicator helps is when train lines shut down or become almost defunct. Now in Bombay, this is an emergency of Code Red levels. Stations become crowded, there’s no place on the platforms to stand, people get stranded, and there is an overall atmosphere of severe impatience and gloom.

In these times, you commonly hear dialogues like “Dude, check if there’s another train from Belapur.” or “Dude, see which bus numbers go to South Bombay from here, nah.” interspersed with “Ugh, why did I take this job.” or “Ugh why did I take this college!” or “Next year se pakka PG hi lenge yaar.

This isn’t even a very rare occurrence, especially in the Harbor and Central lines. An overhead wire short circuits at Wadala, Harbor Line practically shuts down. Someone gets electrocuted at Thane, Central Line practically shuts down. Someone gets pushed off a train at Kurla (what was he thinking, it’s Kurla!), both Central and Harbor Lines practically shut down.

 

  1. Increased communication skills

Sticking together with people who are in the same difficult situation as you is a very common human tendency. Just like that, people who brave public transport together, stick together. ”Oh, you travel to Panvel from CST too?! That’s awesome! I’m Hera.” and you’ve made a friend!

In colleges and at workplaces, people who travel from far off often tend to become closer as they travel together. There is going to be that group of girls who all travel from Kandivali and hang out together too, or that group of guys who all live in South Bombay and have taken PG accommodation together, or maybe even that solitary girl and boy who get on together at maybe Chunabhatti and have become close during all those mornings when they were the only people from their class waiting for the same train.

Once, while the author was in school, she’d read an article about a group of ladies who traveled the Western Line and were best of friends. To begin with, they didn’t know each other from Adam, but over the years of traveling together in the exact same dabba every day, they became this group of ladies who all worked at different places, hailed from backgrounds, did different jobs, but still got along like a house on fire.

In some cases, you absolutely have to communicate with fellow passengers. Like in a full compartment when you’re trying to get to the door because your station is next. You have to ask the woman in front of you “Dadar?” or “Bandra?” so that she realizes she’s in the way, and must move to avoid getting trampled over.

 

4How to deal with fisherwomen

Fisherwomen are very important. They deliver fish, which means they also deliver Omega 3 fatty acids and other vital trace nutrients to your doorstep. Hence, they take their job very seriously. Do not EVER cross paths or take a panga with a fisherwoman, especially when a train is arriving on the platform. You may end up in a puddle of slimy water (personal experience, and the author had an exam that day).

The method of dealing with fisherwomen is simple- don’t deal too much with them. Fisherwomen are easy to spot, in their nav vaari saari with a basket of fish on their head and a trail of fishy water behind them. Spot them early, and be wary. Step aside, let them pass, dodge them if you can.

If you have sensitive ears (which the author does not because of constant use of earphones), maybe carry earmuffs or other protective equipment. Fisherwomen who yell at each other across platforms can reach extremely high decibel levels. On the flip side, they serve for an excellent wake up call.

 

  1. How to accommodate
    The train is just pulling out of Kurla station, and obviously, it’s packed to overflowing capacities (literally, one guy is hanging on with just one foot in the train), when suddenly, from the platform, a shout is heard. A guy, huffing and puffing, is trying to get onto the train. Only, he cant find a single open surface to hold and get on.

Immediately, the introductory tune of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham plays, and everyone gets melancholy. This man deserves to be helped. He has guts- he has chosen to get onto a train at Kurla, he definitely has guts.

One commuter, safely in the train, reaches a hand out to him, DDLJ style. The man instantly latches on, and is pulled up into the train. Magically, he fits into a compartment where even Sunny Leone’s lingerie would not. This is the accommodation capacity commuters on local trains have.

 

  1. Never buy earrings and hairclips from the road
    Not because they’re not good quality, but because you’ll get the same ones in the second class of a Virar Fast for half the price. Not just earrings and hairclips, you even get pencil pouches, small clutches, and other miscellaneous, useful items.

Let’s not forget the advertisements on the walls of the compartments. Bengali Baba, who you can call if you have any ‘arthik samasya, shaadi mein kathinaee, baccha paida karne mein naakaamyabi’, or any such earth shattering personal issue. Or Santosh, who will give you a PAN card or Aadhar card within 24 hours, without documents. Or Deepak, who can get you a flat in Kalwa for the meagre sum of rupees ten lakh.

 

  1. How to manouveur yourself
    It is common knowledge that if you’re in the middle of a full compartment, and your station is next, you’re screwed. Manouvering around a full dabba without stepping on any stray legs, sarees, children, baskets, or entire sitting women is a very useful talent. Manouvering also comes in handy when you need to get through a crowd to the train. All of us cannot be Bollywood heroes (refer to point 1).

The author has the following tips-
A. Always keep your eyes on the floor, that’s where the most obstacles are. Watch out for baskets of fruit or fish, women, and children.
B. Ask people at the door if they’re getting down too. If they are, no problem, just get swept off the train with the crowd.
C. Start moving up front when two stations are left for your stop.
D. Push and shove freely while in emergency. You may lose a few strands of hair, or tear your shirt if an angry woman grabs onto it, but nothing is worth missing your stop. Nothing.

 

  1. Always look on the sunny side
    The ladies second class is completely full? No problem. You will get a full body massage for free.
    The gents first class has no place? No problem. Maybe you’ll discover a new kind of perfume.
    You’ve missed the 7:18 Wadala? No issues. ABCD Sir is anyway boring as hell.
    Trains are running late? So what? Everyone will be late with you. You all have an excuse. You’ll even get attendance!
    No 135 in sight for the past ten minutes? That’s fine, you can take a cab today! They’re more comfy too!

Public transport has a pattern- we cannot change it, because we’re not Rajnikanth. So we might as well just take it with a pinch of salt!

 

But on a serious note, let’s give it up for the Indian Railways. Nowhere else in the world can you travel such a long distance in so less. They’re doing a great job, but everything has its pros and cons.

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Freed From Writer’s Block

So, for the first time, I decided to let go, and not be tied down by the bonds of rhymes. Ergo, my first attempt at free verse 🙂

A lot of times, my best friends (who I would show something when I’m not too sure of it myself) ask me, “How do you write?! I can’t seem to be able to write!”
This is for all those people who want to write, but think they can’t.
Lies. Give it a shot, and you’ll see you can 🙂 You only have to be true to yourself.

A sheet of paper lay on the board
Clipped securely on one end
So that it didn’t fly away-
Just like Riya’s thoughts
They too, needed an anchor
As they ran amok in her head.

One leg crossed over another,
The foot shaking to and fro,
Just like the pen in her hand
That she kept twirling around.
She bit her lip, thinking
She was lost.

Then her mother’s words came to mind.
“There’s something in everyone,
They’re just not noticing you well enough,” she’d said,
When Riya came home crying
From school one day.
Crying because she’d been called ugly.

No one liked being called ugly.
“Am I really ugly?” she’d asked Mom.
“No one’s really ugly.
There’s beauty in everything if you look close enough.”
All Riya had to do, was look close enough.
And so, she did.

She looked up from her paper,
Stopped poring over the endless blankness of it.
A small boy entertained passersby
With his cheap tricks
A smile on his face, which got more hopeful
When someone passed him and glanced.

A little girl and her mother walked by
The child pulled the edge of her Mother’s top
And pointed at the little boy.
Her mother smiled and walked back,
Dropped a note in the boy’s purse,
Making him smile wider than Riya thought possible.

A car whizzed past, and for a minute
Riya’s view of the boy was obliterated
And then she heard the angry shout
Of a man who had been splattered
When the car went into a ditch.
The little girl giggled at the drenched man.

It made Riya giggle too.

She lowered her pen to the paper,
And suddenly she found herself
Writing about the little girl
Who innocently giggled at the drenched man,
Who was the apple of her mother’s eye,
Who reminded Riya so much of herself.

She wondered if the girl
Would grow up like Riya- a writer.
She hoped no one would call the little girl ugly.
Because Riya was looking intently
And to her, the girl
Was nothing but lovely.

An Ode To The Saree

I’m SO sorry I’ve been MIA for this long. I had my University finals (you know, the time of the year that students who haven’t read throughout the year always dread?).

I’M BACK NOW THOUGH YAAY AND I’M POSTING YAAY.

A few months back, we had Indian Traditional Day in college. To all you people who think students in Medicine and Allied Health Science Courses do not enjoy life.. *sticks tongue out*
I’ve always loved saris, couldn’t wait till I got to wear one myself. As I saw all my friends and seniors sashaying around in a myriad of colours, the poet in me was brought out. This was the result.

AN ODE TO THE SAREE

So beautifully she’ll drape
Colorful and bright
Encompassing all flaws
Fitting just right

Hiding what’s meant to stay hidden
Yet making everyone want to see
What stays hidden
Behind that saree

Six yards of sheer elegance
Around and around she flows
Tucked in snug then over the shoulder
Like a river on its course she goes

Everyone stops and stares
As she goes by
The world compliments her
She just smiles, so very shy.

And then she stops and twirls
Her glory she unfurls
In pink, blue and green swirls.

And breaths are held
And hearts swell
And everyone dwells
For that one moment
On that one beautiful girl.

Who’s so beautifully draped
Colorful and bright
Without any flaws
The most beautiful sight.

Cats.

CATS

She purrs and lets you scratch her ear
She rubs against your jeans
She has your milk and fish bones
And then licks her paws clean.

She picks a quiet corner then
And curls up to sleep
But beware, don’t disturb her!
The price may be steep.

Don’t think she’s your pet
At your beck and call
Don’t be surprised if there are days
When you don’t see her at all!

Don’t expect her to stay
They almost never do.
Don’t touch her when she’s mad
Or she’ll hiss and scratch you.

You may give her all your love
And bowls of milk with cream
Yet she’ll be unattached
A blow to your self esteem.

Cats are their own persons
She’s different in her way
She’ll cuddle to you on Day 1
Day 2, she may run away!

You’ll see a streak of black dash
Out your house and across the street
With a flick of her tail she’ll be off
Fleeing on her padded feet.

Then her bright green eyes
Will watch from afar
Daring you to come close
Twinkling like night stars.

Silently you’ll call, dejected,
Into the dark night
“Come here, kitty,” you’ll plead,
But Kitty’s already out of sight.

The Thoughts Of A Dog.

I’ll run and launch myself at you
When you’re home for the day
I know you don’t really mean it when
You scrunch up your face and say-
No, yell at me to get off you
Yell, “Down, boy, down!”
I’ll keep licking your face, I know
There’s a smile beneath that frown.

I know if I sit under the table
And make those puppy eyes
You’ll eventually toss me chicken
And maybe even some rice.
And though it tires me no end,
I know you do love to dance
To music, holding my front paws,
While I try to balance and prance.

I know that you don’t really mind,
It only gives mother such a fright,
If I jump on your bed to cuddle,
Ad sleep there through the night.
She thinks you may catch an infection
After all, I’m all germs and hair,
Maybe she’s right, but you put an arm
Around me, and doze off without a care.

Some of your friends don’t like me
One almost ran away
When I barked to welcome her home
I only wanted to play!
One thought I’d bite her hand off
And asked you to tie me up.
You laughed, pet my head and said
“He’s bitten no one since he was a pup.”

Every once in a while we sit out at night
Side by side, on the porch stairs,
While you talk to me of your joys and sorrows,
I offer you my paw, I care.
You tell me all the things
That no one else wants to hear
You tell me all your secrets
You know I won’t find them queer.

I know that you sneak ice cream
When you’re home alone
And I know who you stay up texting
All night from you phone.
I know you hate potatoes, because
With the chicken, they’re tossed to me
I know the tune of your favorite songs
You hum them whenever you’re free.

And as life will go on, i know
You’ll wander further away
You priorities may rearrange and change
You won’t have much time to play.
But I’ll always be by your side
That’s what I was meant to do
When you’re lost on the road, turn, you’ll see
Your best friend never left you.

It’s All A Matter Of Choices

Disclaimer: Before anyone reads this post, just know that I do not mean to be preachy, I do not mean to give out free advice, nor do I mean to be that kid who thinks she knows it all. These are just my thoughts, and I hope they’re encouraging and I can contribute to the change in my own minute way.

When ‘India’s Daughter’ was banned, there was quite a ruckus nationwide. The documentary, which highlights the shocking Nirbhaya Delhi rape case, was apparently showcasing a very bad image of India and Indians, simply put.

So I watched it, simply out of curiosity to see what the hullaballoo was about. And I couldn’t get rid of the goosebumps that followed due to the vivid descriptions and some of the statements of those who had been interviewed.

Mukesh Singh (one of the accused in the rape) said that taali ek haath se nahi bajti (you cannot just clap with one hand) and that the girl was always partly responsible in a rape case.

The lawyers spoke on length and quite passionately about our Indian customs and how girls should not be out post 8pm, and should not go out with male friends alone, and should follow a certain (admittedly medieval) code of conduct.

It was quite revolting for someone who has been brought up in a liberal urban environment (yes, as opposed to what the world thinks after watching the documentary, a part of India does exist where people think liberally and girls walk on roads in shorts) to hear all of this.

And I got thinking- if someone outside of India saw this, if someone who did not know the real India, and did not realize the diversity of thought and culture across India saw this, what would they really think? This was only punctuated by the fact that the documentary was made by a British national (who now, conveniently, isn’t in India), and that following the documentary’s release, a lot of not-so-nice statements had been made about the ‘scenario in India’.

In ‘Angels and Demons’, there is a line- “Religion is not flawed. Man is flawed.” In the same way, India is not flawed, Indian culture is not flawed (in fact it’s the richest culture out there), it’s just that we’re seeing it in a different light.  And we can definitely not trust a foreigner who hasn’t even lived in India long enough to know it thoroughly to show us the whole truth. Yes, what Leslee Udwin shows us is part of the truth, but not the whole truth.

She’s left out the brighter side, for instance, an incident that happened with me last week.

I was travelling by a local train during rush hour (and a true Mumbaikar will know what it is to travel by a Virar fast in the rush hour). Since I was with my friend, who’s a guy, we got into the general compartment, which was packed to the extent that people were literally holding onto anything they could get so as to not fall out. Into the already packed compartment, two more bodies entered.

I expected to be crushed and touched in all uncomfortable places, because that’s what happens when you enter the Ladies compartment in a Virar fast. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the minute I got in, the men moved to make way for me, saying “Chalo side do, ladies hain!”.

They gave me my bit of personal space, and told me to just move aside when the incoming rush of passengers got on at the next station. They didn’t make me feel violated or even uncomfortable. Even when it was my turn to get off, the men at the station stood aside for a slight bit of time, mutually consenting, “Ladies hain, unhe utarne do pehle.

I won’t be all roses and daisies and say that I wasn’t glanced at for the slightest bit of time by some men, and that my friend wasn’t looked at funnily, and that I got my own one square foot of space to stand in and fresh air to breathe, but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

I had expected a compartment of men paying no heed to the fact that I was a girl, and pushing me around like I was one of them. I had expected someone to ask me why I’d entered the general compartment when there was a separate one for the ladies. I had expected a very uncomfortable scenario. But what I got was this- respect.

And it made me hopeful, very hopeful.

The change in India is already happening. People are waking up. People are understanding. It just isn’t reaching out enough, but it will. Change will take time. To quote a wise friend, “If change was to happen quickly, then it wouldn’t have taken us so much time to be freed from the British.”

Yes, while I type this out there are reports of a Kazakh national being raped in Karol Bagh. As I type this out another girl may be ogled in the train or in a bus. As I type this out, another woman may be whistled at on the road, another little girl may be touched inappropriately and not realize because she’s too young, another husband may slap his wife.
But the scenario isn’t as hopeless as we’re making it out to be.

And with all these thoughts floating around, I wrote this poem.

When I was young, my mother told me
Respect is the most important thing.
And in your darkest hour, no matter what
Shame upon yourself, don’t ever bring.
Why now, then, should we disrespect ourselves,
Why lower our self-esteem?
We are never that far gone,
That ourselves we cannot mend or redeem.

When you see something wrong,
Don’t turn your face away and sob
Reach out and make it stop right there,
Don’t just participate in silent candlelight mobs.
We can stay together in the time of need
Grow together, and bring change with more speed
If we only have a little more faith in our people
We’d be stronger, not all that feeble.

Let the world say what they will say
They’d never know what the truth really is
They don’t know what India can be
They only see us as a national crisis.
Hope can be found in the darkest of times
If one remembers to turn on the lights
So let’s see the brighter side, let’s not be negative
Let’s not get taken up by discussions and fights.

They’ll say a lot of things,
All those many loud voices
They’ll demanded change,
Make a ruckus, jarring noises.
But if only they’d take a moment,
Look around, they’d see,
The change has already begun,
We’re already a new kind of free.
We can see it that way, or keep pointing fingers,
It’s just a matter of choices.

We can go out in mobs on the streets
Hold candle light marches and silent rally meets,
Lament about the state that we’re in
Hold discussions on TV, long and grim.
Or we can be positive when we look around and see
That change has begun, By our own decree.
We can listen to those loud, jarring, impertinent voices,
Or have faith in ourselves. It’s all a matter of choices

Love In Ten Words

I was nominated by the amazing, make-you-feel-so-much-in-a-poem Keya Shah for the currently trending Love In Ten Sentences post 🙂
Time for mentioning my favorite- The Little Insecurities, written by her, which is my favorite poem (yes, Keya, I know you’re probably getting tired of me fangirling over it :P)

So this is the trend and its rules-

-Title your post: Love in Ten Words
-Write ten sentences, 4 words per sentence, each having the word ‘love’ in it.
-Pen down your favorite quote on love
-Nominate ten or so other blogs to do the same. (Mention the rules for them)

Here’s the poem 🙂 It was tough to fit in for someone who’s used to being so talkative and articulate, but I hope it does justice.

“We’ll be friends for ever, won’t we, Piglet?”
“Even longer.”
-Winnie The Pooh *_*

Love is simple and sweet
Love makes pretenses none.
Love isn’t showering gifts
Love isn’t smothering someone.

Love’s that dependable friend,
Love’s a Rakhi tied.
Love’s a father steadfast,
Love’s Mom’s chicken- fried.
Love’s a brother’s protection,
Love’s tested and tried.

Now, I’m supposed to nominate about ten others, but I don’t exactly know ten people who have writing blogs, so I’ll nominate the few who haven’t already been nominated and would do it 🙂

Sriram – https://srirammani96.wordpress.com/

Fahad- http://www.effywrites.blogspot,in

If anyone else reading this is interested, please do it and link it in the comments so I can read it too!
Go, guys, spread the love around 🙂