For commuters, it’s another day in a local train. Mumbai may become Shanghai, but for commuting couples, there would be memories. ..
Andheri is the least evil of all stations on the Virar-Andheri belt. Slow trains start from Andheri and this is the junction where a couple can muster enough courage to board a train together.
The best place for them to stand is against the wall, near the door; the best place because all seats are taken either by burly or experienced 20-40 year olds, who time their jump onto the moving train to perfection. The rest would be those who would have taken the return from Vile Parle to Andheri.
The city that never sleeps, works for about 14 hours and spends about three hours travelling. It is this three hours of togetherness couples relish, even if it’s in a crowded general first-class compartment.
By the time the train leaves, it’s almost full and people are waiting for the next station to arrive. The crowd is busy doing its own thing — or so you think. The crowd also does one thing — stare at the one woman who has dared to be there. The Mumbai local doesn’t believe in chivalry.
Around this time, our hero, already standing just five inches from the heroine, will keep both his arms around her, so that no one pushes or shoves. No one would dare anyway. For, one touch to the girl, one angry word from her and a compartment full of heroes is waiting to bash the villain.
Depending on your height, you get any one of the following views. Someone’s armpit across your nose; a well-oiled hair poking right inside your nose; a newspaper across your face or an executive shouting into his mobile.
If you can look outside, you can see many facing you, sitting on railway tracks, brushing their teeth, answering nature’s call and hoping the answers come before the next train on that track does.
The better option is — None of the above. So all of them get back to looking at our heroine whispering to her hero. As she looks around at 50 eyes staring at her, and another 50 pretending not to, she realises that there are six more who are surrounding them, building a fortress. With the stench of sweat and breath multiplying upon her senses, she prays, “Dadar”.
The Dadar rush squeezes the couple to the limit. Result is something that they wouldn’t have dreamt of either at Bandstand, nor at a multiplex seat. It’s intimacy at its best and privacy at its worst. Yet, the couple would have wanted that part of the train journey to run till eternity and not till Lower Parel, where half the crowd gets down.
For lakhs of commuters, it’s another day in a local train. Mumbai may one day become Shanghai, but for commuting couples, there would be memories.