Despite living in Mumbai for almost all my life, I had never really used the local trains, considered to be the lifeline of the maximum city. If at all I had to hop onto one, I would always make sure I had someone with me – a friend or a relative. Being a direction dyslexic, I wouldn’t dare figure out things on my own, lest I get lost. This resulted in me remaining completely oblivious to the entire process of boarding a Mumbai local train (buying tickets, getting to the right platform, making sense of the indicators, etc.) for the longest time.
Then one fine day, I had to finally venture out on my own for some important work, as no one could accompany me. I would call it A-Day (Adventure day) 😋. I had to go to Thane from Lower Parel. Not easy for a first-timer like me, as it involved taking two trains to the destination. My mom armed me with just one instruction – If in doubt, ask someone! And with that, I set out.
It wasn’t as tough as I expected it to be. On reaching the Lower Parel station platform, I enquired the way to the ticket counter, bought tickets, enquired about the correct platform, crossed the bridge and boarded the first train that arrived (All trains stopped at Dadar, so it was easy 😎). From there on, I followed the same process and reached Thane safely. Whoa! I realized how unfounded my fears were.
However, the real adventure unfolded on my return journey. Complacent about my new found confidence, this time I wasn’t as much careful. Hell, I even had my headphones on and did not pay heed to the reiterating announcements. As it is, Thane station was much bigger and tougher to unravel compared to Lower Parel. A slow-moving train arrived after a while and Thane being the last stop, all people onboard got down. After that, I quickly made my way into it and secured a window-seat! 🤑
For a few minutes, I was in a state of complete bliss. Sitting by a window on a local train with a gentle breeze blowing over me and headphones on – was probably the ultimate experience I could hope for after a tiresome day. I closed my eyes and revelled in the moment. When I opened my eyes after a few minutes and looked around, I was completely jolted out of measure! I couldn’t spot a single soul in my compartment! Was I dreaming? I got up to take a proper look around. Indeed, there was no one! My window was opposite to the station platform and I could see a few faces from there staring blankly at me. Horrified, I went to the door and was relieved to learn that I was still at Thane! I quickly got down. 😥
I still didn’t understand why the train was empty. So “UnMumbai-like”. I went up to a decent looking woman and hesitantly asked her in Marathi, “Hee train nighnar nahi kaa?? (Won’t this train leave?)”. She emphatically stated, “Hee train car shed la jaayil (This train is going to the car shed)” I was dumbfounded. I removed my headphones and could hear a railway announcement issuing the same warning. I realized my foolishness. I promptly kept my mobile and headphones in my bag, took correct instructions from the lady and then cautiously continued my journey home. 🚶🏻
[P.S. This post is a figment of my creative writing and not everything written here relates to me].