It was December 2, 2006. I had to travel from Mankhurd to Kurla in a local train just two days after touching Mumbai. I was totally excited about the fact of traveling by the life-line of Mumbai. Local was always like Mumbai for me. I had never imagined Mumbai without local trains. And it was, say, my first interaction with Mumbai.
A train arrived just one minute after the scheduled time. I was trying to gather all my guts and energy to get into it. Everyone behind and in front of me ran to find their spaces. Just after 10 seconds, I realized that I was in the train. Then followed a breathless journey of 15 minutes. While getting down, believe me, I had never experienced so much humiliation at a single time. Someone pushed me, someone kicked me. The same thing happened with others too. But unlike me, all of them were shouting and laughing. I was very eager to know the reason of their irrational reaction.
For next several months, I became a regular commuter. I got habituated to the crowd including pushes and kicks. One day, all of a sudden, I realized the train was not that crowded. It generated a sense of ecstasy in me. For the first time after joining, I reached at my office with my shirt properly tuck in. Only that fellow who has ever experienced the same thing can imagine the extent of my happiness.
But end of the day, I didn't feel good at all. It was like living a simple and struggle-free life. It's strange but my entire body was aching as it hadn't got the daily massage. Then, the following days went as always. And after a period, I stopped traveling by train as I shifted to a flat close to my office.
It was December 2, 2007. I had to travel from Dadar to Andheri. I was very confident. The year long experience in traveling by train was a support to my confidence. The same thing as earlier happened. There was no need to get into the train. People were so supportive that they didn't give me a single chance to decide whether I should travel by this over-crowded train or wait for the next one. It took 10 seconds and their work was over. But getting down was not that easy this time. At Andheri station, people, of course, pushed me out of the train. And as always, I didn't apply my self-earned energy at all. But the fact that worried me was that I was pushed back by the people who were yet to travel by the same train from that station.
I was on the fence, standing at no space, and getting suffocated. For a short period of time, I realized whether I existed or not. The next stop was Borivili. Someone told me that I had to jump out of the moving train; otherwise the same thing would happen again. The most interesting fact about me, at that time, was that I had a broken leg. An old man, more than 60 years of age, provided me with courage. Could I make it? Yes, only after making a narrow escape from getting my second leg fractured. Well, all that ends well is well.
I reached home safely. But one thing that forced me to scratch my head is that it's a long one year, but no difference was there for the commuters of the so called life-line of Mumbai. And, experience! What's that?