Mumbai – the city of dreams, the city of broken dreams. Millions go unnoticed like sand castles washed away at the beach, millions are attracted by the skyscrapers of Elphinstone, and millions are immortalized like the Elephanta-s. From Haji Ali to Siddhivinayak, from local trains to the Vada Pav, from the boulders of Bandstand to the sands of Juhu, from Mangeshkar to Tendulkar, from the Khans to the Bachchans, it is ‘Aamchi Mumbai’ all the way.
From the trawlers’ struggle for fresh catch to the country’s top CEO-s’ meetings, India’s business capital doesn’t seem to sleep. With fruit juice at Rs. 5 a glass outside railway stations, to Rs. 200 a cappuccino at the Trident, life in Mumbai sails smooth with all its diversity. The night remains young from DJ jamming sessions to ek chaalis ki last local.
Almost a hundred Bollywood movies have had as their opening scene a long shot of Victoria Terminus, introducing Mumbai as sapno ki nagari. Arvind Swami’s lovelorn ‘Tu Hi Re’ on old fort reminds us of Bombay, whereas Ranbir Kapur’s ‘Wake up Sid’ sketches Mumbai on a realistic canvas. Dreams come true here, dreams shatter here, but life doesn’t go off the tracks. The locals move on, carrying few lakh dreaming hearts every day.
The Churchgate slow local arrives on platform 3 of Lower Parel station at 11am with about a dozen hanging on each footboard; the ladies compartments have decked up corporate women in formals and topknots to Marathi fisherwomen rushing to the markets to sell their fresh catch. In fact, Mumbai traffic compels few office goers to park their cars at stations and take the reliable local to office everyday!
‘Bombay to Goa’ to ‘Saathiya’, the local train has repeatedly come on the silver screen. Even the Oscar winning Indian movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ had one of its popular songs shot at the famous Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus platform. Over the decades, it has turned out to be Mumbai’s lifeline. The tracks take a three hour daily break from 1:40am to 4:45am, CST to Khopoli, Churchgate to Dahanu. There are three main lines — the Western, Central and the Harbour line. Life in Mumbai revolves around local trains; the truth about which was felt when the Motormen strike on May 3rd, 2010 had left Mumbai chaotic and overturned.
Another thing that raises tourist’s eyebrows is the ‘on-track’ vendors and their items. The ladies on their way buy household items to earrings to kurti-s. There is trial option also; anyone can try a kurti before choosing to buy! Another familiar face in the 9:01am Ambernath-Lower Parel II class ladies compartment is a lady who sells home-made sweets. She has an amazing style of calling out the names of the sweets, a shrill loud voice coming unexpectedly out of her frail structure, and women indeed go berserk buying her delicacies. It is perhaps correctly said, “You will find answers to all the mysteries of the world, except one— What does a woman want?”
The engine siren pierces through the silence of the night, the bogies rattle on the tracks, the signals go red and green, the pebbles on the fishplates turn and overturn, and the Mumbai locals go on and on.
Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyhay/136501189/]