1st July 2014: The Slow-Fast Conundrum

Let me at very first tell you that only people who have experienced the vagaries of Mumbai Western locals will be able to empathize with my current predicament.
To go to college, I needed a fast local and so I decided to catch the morning 9:00 fast. My usual dilly-dallying not withstanding, I arrived at the station at the exact moment the train arrived at the station! We couldn’t have planned it better even by intention. This resulted in the usual clogging of the overpaes stairs, with panic-stricken passengers like me hurrying to alight the stairs and board the train, before all the seats were taken; and other harried passengers, who had just alighted from the train attempting to rush up the stairs and to their connecting train/rickshaw stand/bus stand.
In the moment of panic I just let the crowd carry me to the coach, got in and made myself comfortable. It was only after the train left that I realized that:
a) It was running before time, something that hasn’t ever happened or was likely to happen. Running behind time – sure
Running ahead ofย  time – oh no,no
b) There was another train standing on the other platform, marked for the same destination!!
A little conversation with my co-passengers established that I had indeed boarded the wrong train!! A slow, instead of a fast, which added some extra 20-30 mins of travel time. So I did what any (in)sane person would do – get down at the next station, and wait for my train. A Word Of Advice: In Mumbai, once you get on a train, you hang on for dear life till you reach your destination!
My train guide told me the next train to come would be a fast, BUT the neon railway indicator and the people waiting on the platform assured me it was a slow, indeed supposedly the same slow my railway guide told me I had been on!!!
When the train arrived I asked (unwilling to believe my trusted source could be wrong) one of the passengers in the train, whether it was a slow or fast. She assured me it was a fast. I quickly got in.
Like with doctors, it is my personal dictum that one should always take a second opinion. Like with doctors, it only further adds to the confusion. Doctor W will tell you that you have fever and the stomach infection is just it’s offshoot, and you must follow X prescription. Doctor D will tell you that it is clear you are suffering from stomach infection due to improper functioning of your liver enzymes, and the fever is just a reaction to the same, and you must follow Y prescription, while following X will only make you sicker!!
On the train, the second person I talked to assured me it was a slow local, when her neighbour chimed in “No,no. It’s a fast!” I was just about to thank her, when the lady near the window burst out, “What nonsense! This is a slow!”
Now the debate intensified and people started voicing their own opinions. One was of the belief that it was neither a fast nor a slow, but a government propaganda to create strife. Another blamed the underground militia. One was of the opinion it was going in the opposite direction, and nothing anyone said could change his mind. It was his belief, and by God, he was going to stand by it!
Let’s just suffice that the station left, and the one after that, but no one could reach to a conclusion. I am still on that train, like the rest of them, hoping and praying that it is indeed taking me where I want to go. But who knows, who can predict?! Man proposes, the Railway Company disposes.

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