Crowds, Trains and Rains in Mumbai | Part-1

Part — 1: Urban Myth

Bombay is that city you heard about and saw in movies and in books all your life, and when you’re finally here, it’s all of that and so much more.
- Yours truly, Day Two in Mumbai
The Coming of Clouds // Marine Drive

The idea behind staying back in Mumbai for my summer internship was to finally explore the city I’d been staying in for the past several months. The last 8 months gave me a lot to think about the city and I would constantly draw parallels between what I’d known from Wake Up Sid! and Ugly and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and all the other Mumbai-based movies to what I just found out or been told — I’d always wanted to come to Mumbai. 8 months is a lot of time. But maybe I’d just been busy, or maybe I’d just been lazy, I couldn’t say I knew the city.

Maybe 8 months isn’t a lot of time.

I had visited all the must-visit spots. I’d seen Bandra, I’d seen Marine Drive in all its glory, I’d whiled away time at Bandstand, I had seen Crawford and bought a bunch of things I didn’t need, I even pushed myself to see Elephanta Caves even when no one would come with me. I had experienced things that, one would say, are quintessentially Bombay — I used the local trains to travel for most part, I’d eat vada-pav whenever possible, I even learnt to drink chai, and you must know, I had never even tasted chai before I stepped foot into the city, I learnt how to maneuver my way into a running, extremely crowded-at-the-door train, I learnt to understand abuses in Marathi and I learnt to judge people from their residential address.

But there were things I’d heard about but knew would never experience because I thought I was too good for them, or too fragile for them.

I knew vaguely of how bad it was to change a train in Kurla and Dadar, but I had only seen the hordes that came haranguing in when my train would stop at Kurla. I would avoid having to change trains at Dadar by travelling all the way to Wadala (I live on the Harbor Line, which as my friend says, is the ‘step child of the Mumbai Local’). I had heard of the general insane crowd of the local trains but never experienced it because I had evening classes. I never went to Chor Bazaar even after being incredibly charmed by it because I was so sure I wouldn’t be able to bargain my way out of things. I’d been to Andheri for a total of two times because I always considered it to be another city. I refused to go to Lower Parel and such only because of the amount of train changes it would take and Uber is a luxury that I am willing to surpass for food, books and make up.

And so, with the advent of the summer of 2017, everything I wanted to know came to a grudging halt — an office in Lower Parel, a regular 9–5 job which required me to face a 2-way rush hour, changing trains at the very 2 stations that I detested. Very quickly, I was becoming part of the crowd that I considered an urban myth.

The heat was strong, the humidity a signal towards the monsoons that would pour, but wouldn’t pour soon enough to relieve all of us, crammed up in the general compartment of a dingy harbor line train. It’s not like I wasn’t warned. My classmates wished they could run away from the city only to escape the heat. I knew it would be bad, but I never expected it to be this bad. It wasn’t just the heat — every pore of my body would cry (literally, because sweat) and the claustrophobia of the tiny train dabba got to me sooner than it usually does. But I was staying in Mumbai this summer, and I had to deal with this — the heat, the sweat, the crowd and the fast pace of the city that they spoke about.

Level: Beginner.

* All expressions/opinions/thoughts are my own, unless they’re not, in which case due credit has been given. Kindly forgive if any error about factual data and/or grammar has been made. *

Link to Part — 2: