The Backbone of Mumbai

“हम तेरे बिन अब रह नहीं सकते, तेरे बिना क्या वजूद मेरा?”

The above line may be the opening line of a recent popular song, but surely is the best compliment any Mumbaikar can give to the local train. Roughly translating, it says “I cannot live without you…I can’t imagine my existence without you”. Wikipedia stats say that the daily ridership is about 2.64 million. The mere figure shows the central role it plays in so many lives. The railway line is the oldest in Asia
“Mumbai Local”, as it is fondly known, is the backbone of my city. It is that one of the things that makes us Mumbaikars fall in love with the place. People rightly say that if one can manage to adjust to the rough rush hours in Mumbai Local, he can adjust to any place in the world. Keeping in mind the chaos caused by delaying of one Ladies’ Special Train, a day without the Local is almost impossible to imagine. To me though, Mumbai Local has been a teacher, teaching me valuable lessons of patience and adjustment.

The most valuable lesson I have learnt is compassion. The helpfulness of the fellow commuters always brings a smile to my face. Whether it’s helping the confused first-timers who catch the fast Local by mistake or helping someone alight by pushing them out, people don’t hesitate.  The best of human nature is usually seen in a crisis. Be it the floods of 2005 or the bombings of 2006, Mumbai Local bounces back to normal in hardly any time.     

I have had some of my experiences in the train. The best part is that there is never a dull moment. In my case, most of my travelling time is spent observing the landscape and the people. I see new faces in every journey, and each face has its own story to tell. People in first and second class coaches react differently to same stimuli, and observing those reactions is the reason to why my journey never feels monotonous or boring. The most recent experience which left me smiling was today morning. The women in the second class ladies coach were playing “antakshari” to pass their time… there was another group cracking jokes. Little things like this brighten the otherwise dull mornings.

Mumbai local is not just a railway service. It is the pride and the heart of Mumbai. Uniting the rich and the poor, it is one of the things that bind us all in one giant family. I am proud to be a part of this legacy. I am proud to be a Mumbaikar.


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