Showing posts with label local train. Show all posts
Showing posts with label local train. Show all posts

Sunsets in Mumbai

sunset-train

Sunset with blue sky of late October seems “magnifique” along with open space of Navi Mumbai as viewed from local train (picture taken through window)

sunset-JJ

This one I clicked last Saturday when I was stuck in middle of JJ Flyover - the longest flyover in Mumbai (2.3 KM). It is constructed like a snake, which makes its way through labyrinth of old buildings on either side; basically you bypass the busy, crowded market underneath. Few buildings along the way are almost at a kissing distance from the flyover.

Calamity of Mid life & middle class

It is impossible not to eavesdrop when people are having a loud conversation on phone in Mumbai's life line - local train.


Unlike other days today morning, was special one which is worth describing.


A guy gets in; stands next to me and elbows me to make his room and starts chatting over mobile (so how it goes....).


“Sorry yaar (friend) had to switch off the mobile as train was coming in; you know how much rush is there nowadays.”


As if there was less rush in last 20 years in Mumbai local. Well, from his conversation I figured out on other side will be another mid-life middle class male on the call. After few lines of small chit-chat the big one comes (which inspired me to write this blog).


“Oh he (some friend)! he is still in hospital on dialysis and doctor says it will take another two weeks to recover.”


Oh God! that is alarming that friend can be just like me another middle aged middle class. And now you read and hear everyday about people as young in twenties are getting heart attack. Well, no doubt life is stressful but we Indians make it even harder with our own karma, as we poke our nose in every matter, as well in others matter; worrying about them, giving constant stream of unsolicited advice is part of our nature.


“Not sure what went wrong, Doctor says due to his high blood pressure his kidney is not functioning properly. He is having heavy loss of protein in the urine”


Indeed too sad conversation, but then he admits "what more to say, even we do n't know 2% of our body and how it works; we only go to hospital when sick”.


Not sure how to say how true it is, in India there is no conception of prevention of diseases, people get really sick spends money (according to their capacity) as most don’t even have medical insurance and then one final day all is over. And worst of all, relatives, friends and bystanders never try to take precaution on the same for themselves as all think that it will not happen to them it only happens to others.


Now the sunny side of the conversation.


“I forgot to tell you, I got a Toyota Corolla recently; a good bargain for a perfect second hand, you must come one weekend we will go for a long drive to Pune.”


It is mandatory to announce, you got a good deal to show your acumen as buyer. I love to hear this stuff as I am sure both guys will never make it in their life, as their wives will never allow that bachelor party to happen. Unlike west or even far-east where it is common to have guys having evening-out after work; it virtually doesn't exist in India yet. As Indian guys has too many balls to juggle with. If you think I am making it sound too boring, the reason is very simple as myself I haven't yet met a person like that.


Well then the conversation continued with natural stuff like kid’s education, stock market, weather and boss at work. By that time his stop was coming so he cuts the call quite abruptly. For 90% Indians, phone attic does not require a formal hello or bye, conversation starts and ends – cradles down – thats simple.


May be just like writing no concluding paragraph. Well, this is a good link on our kidney; I will encourage to read the same, may be it increase that 2% knowledge on human body; high time to take care of ourselves with less medication and having more of stressfree life.

Life in monsoon

After scorching heat, monsoon has arrived in Mumbai. From last two consecutive weeks particularly weekends (June 23-24 & June 30-July 1) there were disruption of normal life due to heavy shower. Thank God, those were weekends otherwise life of 20 million people would have affected some way or other as many schools and offices are closed. We stayed mostly inside and I only ventured out twice to nearby shops to get some grocery done for forthcoming week.

Almost all modes of transports were affected severely; local trains which symbolizes life-line of Mumbai were stopped. People flying in and out of Mumbai also had great difficulties. But with all that Mumbai was back to business on Monday. This city and its people are doing quite normal but as a first timer to the monsoon we are taking things with surprise. Monsoon of Western India are well known to us as we were taught with importance in our Geography classes about them and how they effect the livelihood of farmers of this sub-continent.

These pictures were taken by one of our Support Engineer at Worli. Due to heavy rain there were around 2000 customers of MTNL (State owned Telco) were effected. One out of those 2000 customers was ours (a big fat multinational bank) whose services were compromised for a week. Counterparts sitting in developed countries don’t understand why it takes seven days to get a link fixed during monsoon. Basically, they don’t have idea of what monsoon is?

I am sure people would appreciate this hard effort put by telephone line-men they had to pump out water from the trench before fixing this mess. Red salute to all those people who get Mumbai going through tough time like this.

Technicians working

Technicians working
Telephone cables

Courtesy still … in Mumbai

With all its busy, speedy life I found courtesy still existing within in Mumbai-local; an unexpected encounter with refined human behavior in this Maximum city. I was retuning home in a local train and lucky to be seated as I started from VT terminus. In the mid way a family of three boarded the train; it is quite out of the way for a female passenger to get into general or male compartment at the rush hour. This is one of the unwritten but well defined codes of Mumbai local. Female passengers never try to get in to the general compartment as they will be squeezed by male passengers.

After few minutes of thought and hesitation within myself I offered my seat to the lady by signaling her husband. It was a relief for them as they both mother and son were able to sit.

Suddenly I found a gentle touch on my shoulder; looking back I saw another gentleman is offering his seat to me as he is getting down. Normally the person who is standing next to the seat will be having his turn and it will be big “Faux pas” if someone else grabs the seat. It was an acknowledgement of my good karma by fellow passenger which threw me in astonishment. Needless to repeat again when every one is ready to grab others neck in this metropolis - it is a pleasant experience which I might have to cherish for a long time to come.

Wednesday- Best of all weekdays

From Sunday evening I keep waiting for middle of week i.e., Wednesday as next weekend looks too far to me. If there is any special occasion planned for Wednesday evening it really cheers me up. On last Wednesday it just happened that Pamela called me at work saying that she is going to come to VT (CST) all by herself boarding a local train (…..for first time).Thanks to Meher for encouraging Pamela to come over in the first place.

Well, Pamela did panic at last part of her journey as she was all alone in the wagon with two transsexuals sitting beside her. Moreover, on not seeing me at VT she vented her anger on me over phone as I was to meet her there. Its true, that I somehow always get entangled in work or some urgent phone call when ever I need to be on time to meet her. On top of it her phone battery was also running low. Somehow we did meet up without much problem and I am not that good writer to juice up that meeting. Anywayz, as per plan we met Meher in front of GPO and headed to Kala- Ghoda via Cab.

Gate of HORNIMAN CIRCLE GARDEN

Kala-Ghoda is crescent shaped plaza nestled around an array of heritage buildings such as Elephantine College, the David Sassoon Library and the Watson Hotel. It is named after a statue which is long gone now of King Edward VII astride a black horse. This plaza is around South Mumbai which is fast emerging as the arts hub of downtown Bombay. Meher being born and brought up in south Mumbai she knows streets like back side of her palm. After walking across all those gorgeous office buildings from bygone years we reached Horniman Circle Park where French rock band “Merzhin” was to perform for the Kala-Ghoda festival organized by Alliance Française, Mumbai.. This festival actually takes place inorder to improve the existing infrastructure of the area and giving it a distinct identity as Mumbai's art district. And this festival basically brings together work from various fields like arts, theater, film, music, literature, dance, heritage walks, exhibitions, children's events offering an interactive cultural mélange for Mumbaites.

Anyway, the introduction from the Director was very "French" as he mentioned if you want a good life learn French. What a snobbish French way of welcoming audience. Point to be shared is - a very different experience as we enjoyed the concert sitting on chairs ;) ...hmm a rock concert and sitting!!! The band was good and they tried their best to get people rocking but it did not work after all Indians..... that too on Wednesday evening.

Spanish lamb

From there after an hour we left for dinner walking two blocks we found ourself in front of Café Mocambo. It has two levels of seating.; the interior is decent but not stunning. The menu is mostly continental and parsi with lots of Pasta dishes to choose from. Other then that lamb, steak and lasagna are also available. They have standard fridge displaying yummy desserts - really yummy! Many phirangis also hang out here.

Travel Under Terror

Mumbai local train poster

There were massive bomb blasts last summer in Mumbai local trains. After that now there are constant reminders for the commuters to be on alert and check their surroundings. It is logistical nightmare to manage the massive number of commuters who takes train every day in Mumbai. In simple words, “impossible” will be closest word I can pick.

Few months back after lots of planning and public announcement Mumbai Police conducted a security drill where every passenger was supposed to pass via metal detector in two Main Terminus in the evening but after few moments it was clear that police can not handle the stream of passengers in lakhs and crores as they were heading home and it was abandoned. The good news is that it is indeed possible to check if the need arises but impossible on regular basis.

Although, there is always one or two man in khaki uniform in each station. But those people physically look so unfit with their bulging waistline that I personally do not feel any safe with them. Its just a game of probability in Mumbai terrorist attack. If you happen to be at Mumbai in the wrong time at wrong place you are in danger. No one can save you in Mumbai as it runs by “Bhai” (common con for the Bhai). There is always a strong nexus between underworlds with every business that flourishes at Mumbai. Be it movie making, real estate, jewelry --- just name it.

So till next time Mumbai rocks again – safe and happy commuting – Mumbaians.

Indian Newspapers

There is no real newspaper to read in India at this moment. Well I know I made a big statement but could not start in better sarcastic way. Hold on, let me explain from my past to present. I was thinking abut this topic for a while a now as I see so many newspapers under my nose while going to work by local train in the morning. It is almost like I read every other headline from three to five major publishing houses.

Newspaper means many things to so many people but for me it surely means a starting of a new day with news from yesterday,today and tomorrow. A cup of hot beverage in one hand and a newspaper in the other will be best way to start my day.

I remember once the newspaper used to be very boring in black and white. That time there was no mass “offset” printing for newspaper in India. The printing was not very clear and it used to be thin with only 8 to 10 pages.

If that make you think I am old ;) I was hooked to newspaper quite early. Then suddenly one morning came offset printing with half-tone picture of famous events in rare occasions. I remember it lasted for few years. Then suddenly we found ourselves with the color supplement for the weekend. It was exciting to check on weekly basis those glossy papers; some times we would save them to cover books :D

With time newspaper started to become heavier in weights and started to loose focus from main news. The downhill journey started. The focus of editors turned to advertisement to make news paper cheaper for making more profit.

Like addicts we got used to read about all those cocktail parties in front page and City Complements.

This turned a golden way for the newspaper publisher to print photos of celebrities. All celebrities like to show off little or more depending on their personalities. May be we can call it a golden hen for the editors. Indian society being very hypocratic it was an easy way to publish swimsuit photos of Ms. Anderson with out any one complaining. Indian educated conservative middle class adores the same. The whole news paper has become a tabloid. That way Ms Stone & Spears makes exclusive headline.

May be with economy doing good everyone is having a feel-good-factor; no one really wants to read real news about the global climate change or war on Iraq - everyone is happy in their little world. People are also bored with reading Indian politics the same story of corruption, vote bank – religion or caste from our politicians.

It is all most free can you believe that you can get one full year subscription for just Rupees 199(less than 4 Euros). That means less then One Rupees a day where One rupee can not buy any thing in India now.

Local trains of Mumbai

After moving to Mumbai (India) commuting from one place to another was a big problem (as we didn’t have our own vehicle). It seems Mumbai local trains are the most efficient one carrying millions of people everyday. Getting in and out of local trains is one of the hardest tasks particularly during rush hours which every mumbains has to undergo at least ones in their life. So, lot of advice was given from Santanu’s maternal family who are staying here for more than 15 years. Being given lot of advice the matter aroused curiosity within us.
So, on first day things seemed to be very easy unlike the situations which were being narrated to us. Even getting seats were not a problem neither getting down nor boarding was difficult. Thus our first trip by Mumbai locals was quite easy and calm.
By the time we have already traveled twice or thrice for short distance in non rush hours. Now one day we decided to go to Mumbai central and particularly towards south to meet one friend. But, that day our boarding station was quite crowded then ever experienced before. We mustered enough courage to board a train together which was again an experience in itself. While waiting for our train, at platform we saw lots of women were waiting at one particular place which we soon realized that this might be the spot where ladies compartment would be coming.
Normally, all seats are taken by burly or experienced people who time their jump onto moving train with perfection may be comparing them with urban cheetah will not be out of place. By the time train leaves platform its overcrowded with half of people hanging towards outside either to get fresh air or are waiting for next station to arrive. Hardly any place is there for a little fly to get in through the door.
In that crowd you can see people from different walks of life where some are reading newspaper or some are listening to music so loud as if he is playing for his co-passengers or some are snoozing or some are staring while others maybe observing people like me. Even staring at women who has dared to be there in general class is quite common as Mumbai locals don’t believe in chivalry. Being only woman I looked around myself where I found few people are standing like fortress around me, while others staring at me and when I look at those staring eyes I found many people pretending not to.
Santanu is very possessive in certain matters by keeping his arms around me so that no one dares to say or touch trying to make a protecting shell. Somehow after a while we got some place to sit for few stops in the mean time we learnt that if we have to get down at requisite station then we have to leave our seat atleast two stations prior in order to prepare ourselves to get down.

While sitting one experience many other things like depending on your height one get following views - someone’s armpit across your nose; well oiled hair poking right inside your nose; a newspaper across your face; people shouting over phone etc. That’s not last if you want you can look outside even where you see many sitting beside railway track, brushing teeth, answering natures call and what not. Anyhow with the crowd we managed somehow to get off from the train without losing our handbag, sandals or any other personal belongings.
In Mumbai, there are three main train lines, with few junctions where people can change train. And there is no single station where all these three lines connect each other. So getting in or out at any of these junction station is really ultimate one…. rush squeezes to the limit which something I have never experienced before - its intimacy at its best and privacy at its worst…. it’s co-passengers who will make you get off the train where you don’t need to put any effort to walk out. One good push…and you find yourself at station and thanks to god that we found ourself in one single piece and moreover with all our belongings intact and within seconds you realize that crowd which helped you in getting off the train is already dispersed.
And we took a long deep breath…..maybe something new to us but its just one more day for all other mumbaians. While walking past the platform I thought what about those disabled handicapped people, children, aged people, or pregnant ladies…..is there anything for them like in western countries. In certain matters, India needs lot to do to improvise its commuting system for every kind of its citizen.

Metro in Paris

Living in Paris and not travelling in Metro has lots of demerits. Like usual I am going to start with the traffic jams, one way roads, unavailability of parking, high parking tickets and very unusual sense of Parisian driving skills.

These only list if you have a car and travelling of your own. But what about those who are taking other mode of smart transports like Bus, Tram, Bicycle, Rollerblade or just walk to work or work from home? Well, looking at the list they look cool-nice with their own merits and demerits. For example, I used to go to work in summer by bike, it was the quickest mode to reach work with no major traffic. And I used to go-through Bois-de-Boulogne to have some exercise and fresh air.

But wait, I have not listed demerits yet for these mode of transport over Metro. You will have no clue about what is coming up or going on social front like which movie or big concert as metro walls list all those for you. You never know when there is “SALE” coming up from Galeries Lafayette to any electronics stores. Not only that you will also miss what is the latest trend in the fashion from shoes to eyeglasses.

This list can be long. In short, if you are not noticing the metro walls & people while walking those long passages between different metro lines you miss a lot ;)