Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Got Space ?

Earlier this semester, just like most other nights, I was chilling in the on-campus apartment of my friends from freshman year. Ryan and the other Mech Engg inhabitants of the apt, were finishing up some assignment on the dining table. I was just sprawled out on the sofa staring at the ceiling, procrastinating as usual. Feeling bored, I made my way to the table, stood behind Ryan and leaned over trying to make sense of the graphs on his laptop screen.

Ryan looked over, clearly uncomfortable and said - "dude...do you mind? You're kinda in my space! "

I backed off immediately, smiling though, as a flashback hit me of my experiences travelling in those grossly overcrowded locals fighting rush-hour traffic every evening, making my way to IIT Classes.

I can't imagine trying to count how many poor souls used to be packed (still are...everyday) in that compartment. I usually prefered standing by the door over being cramped up in the seat at the back of the compartment, in a three seater which invariably had 5 people on it. Even worse was the battle out of the train. Getting up from the seat, one station before the destination, somehow clinging on and literally dragging myself out, through the ocean of bodies.

No, I definitely preferred standing by the door. The cool evening breeze used to rush in and really make a horrendous journey extremely bearable. Well, to be completely honest, it also helped that the breeze cleared the compartment of the smell of sweat and other eclectic stenches.

There was a system in place, that was very very quickly learnt. The junta from the right half would not get off till Kurla, and even if Houdini got stuck with them, there was no way in hell he would be able to get himself out. One just needed to sit tight, watch ones station pass by, get off at Kurla and take a train back. I loved it!

What also helped the commute was the fact that I'm 6'2'' and thus, a head taller than most people around the door. You must have heard that joke, done to death, where a tall guy asks a shorter guy - "Howz the weather down there ?"

Believe me..in the local train, the weather down there was a force not to be recokned with.

One of my friends, who unfortunately possessed a slightly diminutive stature got stuck below the herd, at the average armpit level. Yikes...it sure paid to be tall!

Hundreds of bodies huddled together. There was often no need to even hold the handle on top, the forces exerted by the bodies around me, cancelled out the pseudo forces exerted because of the trains acceleration. Often, when I got tired of one position and lifted my foot up, to stretch it a bit, there was no floor-space left to put it back down. In those few seconds, there had been an instantaneous rearrangement of feet orientation.

Personal Space ?

Oh how I wanted to tell Ryan not to talk about personal space with someone who grew up in Mumbai. The concept is non-existant. I thrive and feed off of crowds. My monthly pilgrimage, from this desolate village in upstate NY to NYC, is a clear indication of that fact.

Lol....I wish Ryan could travel in that local train and then talk to me about personal space. That thought kept me chuckling most of the night. I can't imagine how scarred most of my firang friends would be if they had to undertake the ordeal which for so many mumbaikars is a daily routine.

Can't wait to get back and jump in a local train or BEST bus again!

1 Comments:

At Sat Jan 14, 01:30:00 PM GMT-5, Blogger Sujata said...

hey...liked your piece...quintessential train travelling..dont miss it too much...:)..

 

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