Things You See On Mumbai Locals #4: Life’s Little Dramas

She got on from Dadar, and sat in the corner seat, tapping her toes and fidgeting with the strap of her bag.
Suddenly she asked, “What time will this train reach Borivali?”
“45 minutes”, I answered with the suave ease of a seasoned Mumbaikar. She blanched so visibly that it was evident she was running late for an appointment.
“Tell them – wherever you are late for – that it was raining and all trains have been delayed” I tried to reassure her. “It’s true.”
“No – actually I have to catch an express train” She confessed, and now both me and my friend (who was accompanying me) could empathize with her situation.
Who hasn’t experienced the nail-biting stress of being late for a train? Trains are the most heartless of all beings on the Earth. They never listen to excuses, or justifications, no matter how ‘justified’. Sometimes they will leave the minute you step onto the platform, just so that they can have the sadistic satisfaction of knowing they made you feel like a loser.
The three of us together tried out 3000 different hypothetical possibilities, but no matter which way we looked at it, it was a bleak situation. At the best, it would be a very close shave.
Our train, being the sadistic thing it is, didn’t make things easier, by suddenly becoming a slow, which means that it would now stop at 5 extra platforms!
My friend’s station arrived and she alighted. A few minutes later, she called up to tell me that the S Express (the girl wanted to catch) had just thundered past. We were only a few minutes ahead of it.
What followed was agonizing 15 minutes as we waited and silently urged our train to reach before S Express. After every few seconds, we would share a nervous smile. I wasn’t going to catch the S Express, but I could almost feel my co-passenger’s tension, like it was mine. I wanted her to be on time for the train almost as badly as she wanted it.
2 stations later, the S Express thundered past our train, past our dismayed eyes….till I had a hopeful thought: There are a lot of signals outside Borivali. Most express trains are forced to wait for a while before entering the station. Ours being a local had no such compunctions.
Another hopeful against hope 10 minutes later we reached our destination. The S Express was still at its platform.
The last I saw of the girl was her running towards the overpass, till I lost her in the mass of black heads and colourful backpacks.
In life, we like to have a happy ending; and so I hope she got the train.
For all I know, maybe she was going to take the train to meet her lover; maybe she was a secret agent, in hot pursuit of a criminal aboard the S Express; maybe she had a life-saving drug in her backpack that she had to take to her sick sister; or maybe she was going to participate in some sports tournament, and years later I will see her onscreen playing at the Olympics – there is a thousand distinct possibilities, and if this was a movie one of them would even be true. But who says life is any less dramatic than a movie? It may not be as obvious, but life has its little dramas…and all I hope they have happy endings.


3 thoughts on “Things You See On Mumbai Locals #4: Life’s Little Dramas

  1. says:

    “Sometimes they will leave the minute you step onto the platform, just so that they can have the sadistic satisfaction of knowing they made you feel like a loser.”
    Been there, so many times. Tokyo trains are worse, since they leave exactly at their scheduled time – right down to the minute – its a distinct its Your Fault and Told You So moment !!


    • Hahaha. So this is a global problem 😛 Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It feels nice to know that a blog post written in India can be read and contextually understood in Japan 🙂 Makes the entire concept of global village feel all the more real. 🙂
      Also, I completely understand how you feel. That has happened to me more times than I counted. Trains can be really bad for your self esteem at times 😛 But there is also that feeling when you just catch it, like fraction of a second before it leaves. Like a boss! 😉


      • says:

        haha thats true, catching a last minute train does make your whole day and gives you a girl out to conquer the world kinda feeling! 😀


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