Mumbai Musing (4): Locals and the life-lines

A city whose residents thrive for being literally on their toes 24/7 and swear by the adage, ‘You cannot miss the train and hang on the life line.’ I wonder what Mumbai would be without its life line. Simple sa funda: Paralysis. Every day, millions commute to work, college and wherever in the life lines. Our local trains are our life lines and our life hang by a thread by jostling our way inside the jam packed trains at rush hour. Our life, Mumbai local train and proudly so!

Life line is our journey in the city where swarms of Mumbaikars travel every day and it’s a thrilling adventure that has no right to stop or screech to a dead halt. Local train has been my life line for two awesome years as I hackneyed to university every day, starting from Churchgate-my posh residence- to university at Santacruz, to hang out at Andheri and Bandra or Dadar. It’s poetry in motion as the train slowly rattles away from the station as we sit, squeeze our way by standing and hanging to the pole as we admire the scenery, sky-crapers, slums, crowd hushing up and down in their daily struggles, vehicles honking their way, maddening traffic swirling in the city and its people-moods and moments-you see the creatures making way. Ah! People! What a bunch of contradictions! Vast seas of Mumbaikars, angry, super cool, chilled out, weird, pheku, lacking ambitions but always in a rush. The life line is like its people, always in a rush, slow local and super fast trains whooshing in the city.

Entertainment in our life lines? You have plenty and out of the blue, some street urchins will hop inside. Why not? After all, it’s our life lines. Heads buried deep in reading Mid Day or Times of India, you will be jostled out of the chair when an innocent voice will sing in a coarse voice to the latest chart buster or old song, Hume toh loot liya kale kale baalon ne’ as you spare one rupee to get rid of them. Or, the kid pretending to mop the floor in exchange for a dime or the beggar looking for ‘paisa.’ Our life line in Mumbai is all bout the money, be it the beggar or the guy carrying suit case, the stock agent shouting loudly on the phone to let the whole world know how much Reliance or Indian Oil is trading on Dalal Street.

Come Dadar, a mammoth crowd bevy its way inside and outside the train, pushing from behind as commuters will shout, ‘Dakka mat de’ ‘Kude Chala, Kude Chala’ (Don’t Push, Move ahead)..bhaariya..gandu..pardon my language or the cuss words. If you are smart and don’t want to miss the station to get down, start getting off your seat and thrust your feet forward to move along with the train. As the train screeches at the station, just save time, swoosh ahead and swirl among the crowd to get don’t mind pushing some people to get down. After all, this is what our life line teaches us in maximum city. Move ahead, keep moving, struggle your way out.

As you push your tiny body and head out of the train, you feel like a King victorious after the battle for struggling your way out of the life line unscathed..our local train. You are christened a Mumbaikar and you know you’ve nailed the city in the life lines. You exude a sense of pride on your face. Our life lines does things to us? You know what! Conquering the city. A city has its charm and identity. For Mumbaikars, it’s the life lines..train and it’s maddening crowd. As we keep humming on our way, Mumbai local..




  1. s you push your tiny body and head out of the train, you feel like a King victorious after the battle for struggling your way out of the life line unscathed..our local train. // ha ha ha…. so true even in chennai local trains these days!

  2. that was very well precised, but its “Pudhe Chala” and I didnt not understand “bhaariya” did you mean the hindi expletive they use for a “pimp”. Also I guess you have traveled mostly on the western line.

    Whenever you get a chance try and travel all across the city in the life lines, western, central, harbor, trans harbor and you’ll witness something very unique about this maximum city. Its diverse cultures and different set of rules on this lines come to the fore. It is very absorbing experience. You’ll have enough material to write a book, they have hundreds of thousands of untold stories hidden in there. My experience has shown me that.

    • Hey Karan, welcome here and will change it to Pudhe Chala..guess, coz I’ve been out of Mumbai and India made me! It’s the cuss word..I was based in Churchgate and traveled from there, though I did travel frm VT side which is fun:) I will be back nxt year in Maximum city and looking to explore again and make the experience absorbing in the mentioned! That’s an idea and sounds good to make short stories in book form. Thanks mate:)

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