December 26, 2006

Sing Song

Ghar par koi rehta hai
Joh aapko karta behadd pyar
Roz shaam ko karta hai joh
Aaka ghar par intezaar
Rail ki pattari
Paar na karein
Pulon ka karein istamaal
Aap rahenge sada surakshit
Aur hamesha hi khushhal

December 11, 2006


One can avoid claustrophobia by reserving a spot at the door. I always try to pleasantly make my way through the crowd flashing the Dahisar tag like a badge before anyone who wishes to get off after me. Soon, I only have to worry about being pushed out from where I perch myself. It's rare because the crowd getting in form the other end rarely 'combine forces' to make more room but moreover, the ladies already standing in 'files' are obsessively possessive of their space and will not allow encroachment of what is considered rightfully theirs for the duration of the train ride. They guard it with frightening grimaces even.

This must be routine in a local train. And yet, nothing had prepared me for this particular incident. It had been a few hot and sultry days. But it was sundown and I moved in accordance to the plan described above, so that I was finally at the most favourable spot on the train. Right at the door. It was breezy because the train was moving along. Bandra station arrived. The train halted. The stillness of the air became palpable. The train proceeded and quickly picked up speed. That's when it happened. It hit me just like physical violence. It was the stale air from the next compartment which was full of men. It was as if I had traveled into a cloud that bodily smacked me. It doesn't sound probable but it happened. It wasn't just the smell. It was possible to actually feel the warm dead air. Air that had been breathed in before by several others. Air that was dispensed with moisture laden particles of sweat and other fluids that a perspiring human body regularly produces in a hot climate. It happened at every stop till Dahisar.

For those who think winters in Bombay are a myth.

December 6, 2006

Merely PI

I contemplate how the desire to be seen speaking in english is observed in our middle class. It follows the idea that the railways in context with its multitudes is a representation of the larger phenomenon. One woman calls the other "Stupid!" and 8 times out of 10, the response is "You stupid!" However, usually the women revert to a regional tongue when the argument heats up some more. That's also when one gets to hear the most creative profanities.

Once though, I also heard one young woman tell another,"I'm 'giving' classes. If I said I was 'taking' a class it would mean I'm the student". I didn't know that. We learn more everyday.

December 2, 2006

Ladies Compartment : Personality trait II

She lives beyond the suburbs. She wakes up every morning at four. She prepares tiffins for her husband, her son and herself and meals for the in-laws. She boards a particular bus that connects to a particular train. She's at work for the next couple of hours. Then, she must rush back to get home again to cook, clean, launder. Day in and day out. For more than seventeen years now. Resilience. She still finds time to make intricate crochet handicrafts, embroidered sarees and beautiful hand-painted linen. She cares to give lessons too.

She's one of many. And these crowd the Ladies Compartment. It helps to think of her in an especially overcrowded Virar fast.