One month in Mumbai and if you still haven’t figured out the train routes and how to read that big electronic board with incomprehensible codes that is supposed to make your life much easier but only gives you a headache (from all that frowning as you try to understand what the hell it is trying to say), you are in BIG trouble. Especially during peak office hours and people are running like mad from the ticket counter to their respective platforms. You dare walk up to anyone and ask for directions and they are sure to give you that look that makes you feel like the cat that still hasn’t learnt to use the toilet.
Before I took my first train ride in Mumbai I had heard a lot of hair-raising horror stories about Mumbai trains-how you get groped, pushed, kicked in your ‘private lady parts’ (my landlord’s mother is a very sweet old lady who lowered her voice and looked appropriately embarrassed while saying out those three words), have your hair yanked off etc etc. My uncle once had to get down at Mahim but the moment he kept his one foot on the station he was unceremoniously pushed right back into the train.
Nothing much really happened though. Yes my body and the lungs, in the process got constricted to the point where I was preparing myself to meet my maker (not exaggerating), my feet got badly stamped and yes I got poked in the back by a particularly nasty looking umbrella and while getting off at Bandra, someone scratched me in the neck and left a mark that everybody in college thought was a hickey, I survived.
The view from the locals when it is raining is breathtaking. I know I complain about the rain all the time but the moment you reach Charni Road or Marine Lines and catch a glimpse of the sea underneath the overcast sky you feel a little light in the head. (More if you have a bad hangover at 8 in the morning like yours truly). The cold wind lashes against your face (btw warning in advance: that doesn’t feel so good when you’re two seconds away from throwing up all over the seat or passing out in an empty compartment. Just so you know.) and you feel as if you have always been here; you never left. You just can’t.
I never thought I’d say this but one month in the city and Mumbai suddenly feels like home.