Mumbai is one of those cities where life moves faster than excuses. Every one is in a hurry. Here, we don’t have time for rationality about speed and deadline. We just work. We just do our jobs and move on to our houses for a good night sleep. That’s pretty much the case in almost every other metropolitan city, which is fueled by dreams and ambitions of gigantic proportion.
Mumbai is fast thanks to two reasons. One is it’s local trains and other is the people traveling in it. They both complement each other pretty perfectly. The crowd and hustle-bustle that comes with these trains in Mumbai is a legend of sorts that can’t be ignored. People literally breathe into each other’s lungs with hardly the space to share fresh air. According to Wikipedia, more than 5,000 passengers are packed into a 9-car rake during peak hours, as against the rated carrying capacity of 1,700. Literally, that means, 14 to 16 passengers are standing on each square meter of floor space.
Now, imagine you are one of those 14 to 16 passengers stacked in that bogey and the train stops in middle of track. How do you feel? The answer is simple. You are utterly frustrated, distressed and would want to break free. There could be hundreds of reasons for that train to stop there. It could be failure of signal or could be overlapping of time schedule thus creating a case of traffic. It could be anything but we forget a more occurring possibility there.
It could be due to a passenger who was hanging on the foot-board a while ago but accidentally bumped into the passing steel structures or it could be someone who just slipped off the least of support he had. It’s a mere coincidence that in a city of 14 million people, around 4000 people die due to accidents related to trains every single year.
I came across such incident just two days ago when the train stopped abruptly on the 8-km distance track (which is the longest distance between two stations in whole of Mumbai) creating a flutter of anxiety. As I was hanging on the foot-board like ‘Tarzans of Bombay’ do, I could see it quiet clearly why the train pulled the brake. It was a bloodied man lying on the side of the track. The man was in severe pain and was lifted by 3 men from Railways into the furthest bogey that the motorman occupies.
I’m glad I witnessed this but I’m sad too as I know it could be me or you the next time we hang onto the overcrowded train to fight time and deadline!