I had never been to Mumbai before in my life until this summer when I interned at Shaadi.com in South Mumbai.I had to struggle on my way in and out of the local trains every day. Here are my first hand experiences and tips for first time travelers on the Mumbai Local Train. As I see it, the experience can be compared to going to a rock concert, except this time you totally hate the music.
Just like any concert in India, there is a huge queue right outside leading up to the venue. It’s pretty difficult to wait in line, especially when you are damn high from all the pre-drinking and the pre-narcotics. The booking office at the station is the same, but in contrast you are damn low on energy and waiting to get back to your comfortable couch after a strenuous day at work.
Do not be frightened by the crowd
You finally bought the Tickets. Now you just need to fight your way into the venue, through the crowd. You will definitely be disturbed by seeing the huge crowd at the station. Do not let that stop you. The Local Train is the fastest way to commute in the city as the whole city is swamped with traffic during the office travel hours. Remember the reaction you will face is the same that every non-mumbaikar faced during their first local travel.
Getting into the groove
So you have gotten to the right platform and you are ready to board your train. The next frightening moment is the sight of the rusty electric train arriving with people hanging out of it. The train screeches upon slowing down to a stop at the station much like the screeching of the speakers while the lead guitarist tunes his instrument. The music is about to begin. Within seconds you will feel a force behind you with people pushing you towards the train. Let yourself go. Within seconds you will find yourself flowing among the crowd towards the music, aboard the train.
Well, it definitely is not my kind of music. I do not know what type of music you listen to. But you have to give it up for the talented musicians reciting their bhajans on top of their voices throughout the journey. A round of applause to these band members as well – Mr Ravi Shankar on the wooden Manjira, Percussionist Avishek Dutta on his plastic suitcase led by the lead singer Mohit Sharma.
You are halfway through the concert and the lead singer announces the title of the next song. It is everybody’s favorite song, and for most people it’s the only song that they know of by the artist. The crowd gets excited; there is adrenaline rushing; people start to push people forward preparing themselves for the Moshpit.
Back on board the train, you will hear a sweet lady’s voice booming from a PA system which announces the next stop in Marathi,Hindi and English, in that order. When she announces Dadar you can notice passengers tightening their muscles and rolling up their sleeves because the crowd that gets on at Dadar is the fiercest crowd you will ever see in your life. As soon as the train reaches Dadar you will see people rushing into the train as if it’s the last train home, pushing everyone and everything on their way to get a place on the train. Be prepared for a few gouges in the eye, and a few kicks below the belt.
This is an intergral part of your train journey. If it’s a crowded train, be sure to move towards the exit two stations before. Ask the people in front of you where they are getting off and work yourself closer to the door as much as possible. The next step is what I call crowdsurfing. You will be greeted by passengers waiting to get into the overly crowded train. Do not get scared. Think of it in a different way. If you have your headphones on you should put on some rock music. Think of yourself as the lead guitarist and the passengers on the platform as your fans although their intent might be quite to the contrary. When the train reaches an optimal speed, let go, you can rest assured that the crowd will catch you and you just have to work your way towards the exit.
There will be a few hiccups but you always learn from your mistakes. In a week or two, fighting your way into the train will be a subconscious task. I have had my share of embarrassing moments as well. I consider myself athletic yet I have fallen down once while getting off a moving train. I have taken the wrong route once and have had to come back in the same train. I had to let two or three trains go in order to finally board one.
Nonetheless,it’s an experience everyone should have in life.
Marketing, SCMHRD 2014-16
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