Its 8.30 am. The peak hour. Nopes, its not some lame Churchgate to Borivli local in the opposite direction with a few smug window-seating aunties enjoying the morning breeze. I am talking about the real deal here. You are waiting for the 8.30 am Borivli to Churchgate local to arrive at your platform. You are standing near the edge of the platform, surrounded by hordes of people, packed to the brim, nudging each other, waiting impatiently. The men and women regions are clearly separated. The office ladies have their saree pallus tucked in. The college going girls have their bagpacks snugly covering their chests because the men in the arriving trains sometimes slap their breasts. Bhen***ds. The macchi-waali has her catch of promfrets in a tokri balancing precariously on her head, dripping a mysterious pungent fluid on a miss-goody-two-shoe's mini skirt. Some men are busy gawking at the ladies, some digging their noses, some scratching their butts, some lazily adjusting their crotches, some reading the latest business news, some catching a quick smoke and others discussing answers to mathematical integration problems. They say that you can see the Great Wall of China from the moon. I say, try focussing that satellite on Borivli station sometime. You will see a humongous black oily mass, moving up, down and sideways, formed by bobbing heads trying to catch a glimpse of the arriving train.
There! You see it appear at a distance. The giant metallic reptile rolling slowly towards your platform. As always, a bunch of people are hanging out from each compartment. The nudging around you gets harsher, the nose digging picks up pace and the crotch adjustments get vigorous in anticipation of whats going to happen next. Every square inch of your body is in close contact with the people around you. I wonder what happens at the men-women border; never been there. It doesn't matter whether you are a college student, a rich stock broker or a mochi. All are treated equally and shabbily. Some adventurous guys take their positions, periliously close to the edge, hoping to catch the window seat. But no window seat today. In fact, no seat only today! The train had stopped at Kandivli earlier and is going to be jam packed with "return " passengers. If you hadn't seen such a massive humanity before you would almost pee in your chaddees. The train slows to a crawl but its still moving. The human mass starts shifting towards the doors. Oh crap, first class dabba aaya idhar! The motorman did not park at the right place. You curse his mother and lunge towards the second class compartment. They used to also have a third class compartment earlier, but travellers complained that third class sounds too derogatory and hence it was removed. I think its probably the luggage compartment now.
The collective mass starts pushing you in. People hanging out of the doors try their best to push you back out. The collective mass wins and you all go in with one big giant push. Some passengers who need to get off at the station (the guys travelling in the opposite direction) cannot do so; serves them right! Some elbowing, screaming, cursing and punching follows and you are finally inside. Oh yeah, baby ! Eventually everybody settles in the compartment like sand settles in a bottle. One fat amateur student is left out and he looks pleadingly at the guys in the compartment who pity him and let him in too. Even air cannot penetrate this compartment now. But not to worry, you have a few other things to breathe depending on the guy attached to your front side. If he is shorter than you , you get to smell the brand of chameli oil he is wearing today. If he is taller you get to smell his armpits. God forbid, if he is exactly of your height the possibilities are endless. That is a story for some other time. For now all that matters is that you are in. Mission accomplished.