Prachi Parekh recounts her ‘first time’ and shares a few tips to how to board the local trains in Mumbai
8:40 am – On platform
My jaw dropped when I saw the crowd. Nervousness turned into downright fear as I stood among ‘experienced’ women to get into the ladies dabba. Wishing I had not worn a salwar kameez and had tied my hair, I took a deep breath as the train pulled into the platform…
8:47 am ki local
WHAM!!! I found myself lying flat on my back. ‘Lady Godzilla’ had pushed me with all her might and disappeared inside. I quickly got back on my feet, hoping to get in. But the train was too packed and pulled away. I desperately wished Lady Godzilla didn’t get a seat.
Lesson # 1: Beware of aunties, especially strong, fat ones.
8:53 am ki local
As the train approached, I wedged myself between two spindly girls and climbed in quickly. Suddenly, I felt excruciating pain as my dupatta tightened around my neck and my scalp went numb. ‘Spindly No.1’ had pulled my it for support while ‘Spindly No. 2’ went for my hair. Once in, they let go saying ‘sorry’. I was still seeing stars when I reached college.
Lesson # 2: Get your dupatta and hair in the front, or choose between getting your scalp ripped off or endure a choke slam – the desi way!
6:00 pm – On platform
Keeping the previous lessons in mind, I thought I was prepared as I stood at the platform to take a train back home amidst a humongous crowd.
6:04 pm ki local
A shadow fell on me and I looked up. My throat went dry with fright as another Lady Godzilla came and stood next to me. I quickly distanced myself from her, pitying a geeky girl standing right behind her. But no one can escape the Godzilla’s wrath. I became an indirect victim when Lady Godzilla’s pushed victim fell on me. However, the Geek, I was surprised to see, was safely inside. Lady Godzilla’s pushing had made way for her too!
Lesson No. # 3: Standing behind Lady Godzilla will ensure you get into the compartment.*
(*Follow this advice at your own risk. If she happens to get pushed, she’ll fall on you!)
6:11 pm ki local
With Godzilla out of the way, I pushed myself to the front. I felt pretty smug standing in the first line. WHAM! DHADDAM! BAM! The people getting off the train pushed all us first liners, including me, to make way for themselves.
Lesson # 4: Only martyrs stand in the first line during peak hours.
6:14 pm ki local
I was hurt, but I was wiser too. I carefully stood in the second line next to a girl who looked at me with narrowed eyes. I glared back…we both had silently challenged each other to successfully get into the approaching train. “Oh #$%&**@#,” I screamed. My challenger had hit my ribs with her bony elbows and I was shoved aside as I doubled up in my pain, my eyes watering.
Lesson # 5: When fighting to get in, use your elbows. They really hurt.
6:17 pm ki local
I finally got in! Success felt sweet till I felt something strange. One of my chappals was missing, probably lying somewhere on the platform. As I looked at my feet, a hand knocked off my specs.
Lesson # 6: Detachable things on your body – specs, watches, etc – should be tucked away in your bag. And, tighten that grip on your chappals.
6:17 pm: Still on platform
I tried to get off. “Arre mujhe utarne do…mera chappal platform pe hai…utarne dooooo!” I screamed, and managed to move a precious half inch. Sighing, I tried to untwist myself. No more, my body said. I was stuck! My posture now resembled a scarecrow.
Lesson # 7: The minute you get in, adjust your limbs in a comfortable position. You won’t be able to move them at all later.
6:57 pm: I went, I fell and I came back injured!
Highly disgruntled when I reached my destination, I threw away the other chappal and walked barefoot on the platform. A few people laughed, but I was beyond caring because I couldn’t see much without my specs, anyway!
PS: If it’s a 12-coach train, get into the
last compartment. It is always emptier. Comparatively of course!