Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why is there a QUEUE...Inside a Train?! #MUMBAIDIARIES02

It’s been over a month and I had already started feeling like I was a Mumbaikaar. I had travelled to almost all places and local train didn’t scare me anymore. I was comfortable…even confident enough to direct other hapless passengers and help them to know which train heads where.
Things went fine and were finally constant. But as they say “The only constant thing is Change”.

Recently I had moved to Ghatkopar where my cousin stays. I was travelling to CST from Ghatkopar and I was happy because there were fast trains that ply in this route. I would be saving 10 whole minutes and I was sure I would be able to travel more comfortably. So that fine evening I got down from my office planning how the evening would be with that whole extra 10 minutes. I got into the train which was proudly standing in the last platform as if it was ready for a race.  I boarded it and stood near the door hoping that the wind would blow on my sun harassed face. People, as usual, started asking where I had to get down. I pleasantly told “Ghatkopar  ” -that far away land which was 4 or 5 stops away. There were quizzical expressions and I was approached again by one lady who told me that Ghatkopar platform is on the other side. Their expression was if I had boarded a completely different train and I had to take a taxi and rush to another station. All I had to do was move about 5 feet and stand on the other side of the train. I appreciated their help and I said calmly that I know that I have to stand on the other side and shall do so in some time. I thought to myself that I am no longer a newbie here and I can figure out things myself.
It was then that I saw that strange thing! A queue of 5 or 6 people standing disciplined near the opposite door. One tall girl frantically came running from behind me, adjusting her spectacles, asked the ladies in that queue something that I couldn’t hear. But I definitely heard the reply “Haan! Yeh Ghatkopar ka line hai”. I was dumbfounded. The train that too a fast one, had not even started from CST and passengers had already formed a queue for getting down at GHATKOPAR. I sighed. Why is there so much fuss and hurry? I thought to myself .It was then that I observed ladies standing next to me were actually arranged in the same linear fashion. That was the THANE queue. At that point I lost it. I was exhausted by the intensely hot and humid day and I decided to stand my ground. I needed some air and I was in the perfect spot!
Came Byculla, I did not budge. Then came Kurla. I stood my ground but so did all the ladies in the Thane queue. Then ensued a fight. Kurla v/s Thane. People who were to get down at Kurla fiercely pushed their way towards the door demanding that they have to….they just got to get down. If people who were supposed to get down at Kurla were shouting that why Thane log have to block their way then it was countered equally fierce by people who pushed them back saying “All you have is this train? Why couldn’t you board another one..This is a fast one!”.By this time around 50 people were standing in that 5 feet of space I thought I will make it.
I got scared by then and decided to ask for help. I whimpered..”Ghatkopar”. A lady turned around and asked me completely shocked “ Ghatkopar”.I had the expression of “Guilty as charged”.Though she was kind at heart she was very strong and tough .She pulled me out of the thane line and wedged me into the Ghatkopar one.
There is one bad thing about fast trains. They are fast. When it reached Ghatkopar station there was so much of rush for people to get down that people who were standing behind me fell over me and I finally managed to wrench back my limbs from the crowd. I thought I had lost my bag. It usually is very heavy and it weighs down my hand. But supporting around 2 to 3 ladies who were leaning forward, now it felt a lot lighter. My lovely bag just dangled weightlessly now. Long Live Einstein and his wonderful theory of relativity.

Mumbai would never fail to surprise me..not even a single day! But I am loving it!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


M-Indicator App, Just keep it open and be ready! You‘ll be able to find the train and the platform and the time of arrival easily. Everyone told me so. But what they didn’t tell me was to make sure that I put my mobile in the bag and hold my bag tight. Once I found the very right train in the very right platform I had to do gymnastics in one leg to make sure I don’t lose my mobile which was in one hand and my bag which was in the other. #MumbaiLocal Journey begins! Though there was quite a rush, the journey was good and quick. CottonGreen, Dockyard Road, Sand Hurst Road ..Chunabatti, Sewri….the names amused me….and then there was Kurla. I think there is one big Mumbai hidden alone in this place. The sheer number of people who get down and get in here, in this station is humungous. Finally I thought I got a seat…I took my earphones out and was about to enjoy a song when I realized it was the last station. No wonder I got a seat.
Mumbai CST,UNESCO world heritage site, probably is the most visited tourist spot. The footfall everyday must be thousands or may be even more. People rush by, there is no time. If it is to catch the right bus in the morning, then it is to catch the right train in the evening. I have always felt that CST terminal is like a point in relay. The trains barely touch it and then they are off at full speed again…back to Vashi, Panvel ,Andheri…and then back to CST. For them it’s truly not the destination, but the journey that matters.
I looked around, searching for exit. I had to stand and look at both directions. The mere act of standing irritated people. You are supposed to either walk fast or run. That’s the norm. I had to dodge people who were rushing left and right. Finally I found the exit and walked out of the station. I had to go to my office which was near church gate. So I took a bus “CST to CST via Church gate”. I had to get down near Mantralaya. Everyone told me “ It’s very easy, most of the buses stop near Mantralaya”. I got in the bus and took the ticket. Something about me, might have been the way I pronounced Mantralaya, seemed strange to the conductor. I ignored it. I was excited to see around CST, apparently the prime location of Mumbai and the most happening place.

The bus route covered almost every place. It went along Marine drive and the morning sea was just perfect. The small dent in my happiness was that I didn’t know where to get down. There were so many buildings and I had no clue as to which one is Mantralaya. Finally I thought I reached the stop and I rushed to get down. Someone shouted at me from behind. “Ye Mantralaya nahi hai”. The conductor was smiling at me. So I sat down. And for all the stops that came by after that, I used to look back at him and he used to shake his head “Nope…No”! I was getting tensed. He came to me and asked me  “Aap ko kahan jaana hai?” . I told him “Petroleum House and its near Mantralaya”. “Petroleum house...” he pondered. He broadcasted my problem to everyone in the bus. Then everyone started discussing.

“She could get down at XYZ stop….” “She can walk from LIC office.” “She had to board the other bus.” “She should get down here…and walk right…then left…then straight…then right...then left…”!!! So much of confusion.  I noticed that even the driver had joined the discussion as he was driving. I was looking at everyone as they spoke and I meekly said that I can check Google Maps. Laughter erupted ,Google Maps won’t help you was the consensus.Finally they all came to the conclusion and they told me how exactly to reach “Petroleum House” .And the kind driver totally invented a new stop and stopped there to help me manage and find my way. And Yes!! …I did find my way and I safely reached in time to my new office!
Thanks to Mumbaikaars… Love you guys!! 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

There is nothing permanent except Change

The toughest day in my life was my first day at School. Crying my eyes out,clinging to the window,unable to bear the sight of my parents leaving me,I thought I would never survive any of it. 20 years later,I totally agree that the most wonderful phase in my life was the one I spent in school.

Change is awkward at first. It is something that tosses you out of your comfort zone and when you manage to get up you understand the world as you know it is not there anymore. It is uncomfortable, for changing from one state to the next upsets our control over outcomes.It is essential to learn to deal with this as change never rests.Change is here to stay.It is just waiting around the next corner. 

So how do you turn the tables. Socrates said "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy,not on fighting the old but on building the new". Change can flow or jerk, depending on our resistance to it.Synonyms of change are shift,adjustment,variance....But change also means challenge,transformation and development.Even a roller coaster ride can be fun if you know when to lean and create balance.

Change pushes your boundaries and brings out the best in you. The true meaning of things does not lie in them but in our attitude towards them.Just when the caterpillar though that life was over it became a butterfly.

Standing on the brink of something new,let us not comfort ourselves by saying " Just hang in there" but by saying " Lets make it". We dont grow in retreat,we grow through endurance.

Change is opportunity in disguise.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bhai,ek chai?

Time flies by when women shop.It was one such fun day in kochi,a few years back. The culprits were my mom and my aunty.Believe me,I was too young to understand the value of such an opportunity and thus was more or less a victim to their diabolical shopping spree.My mom and aunty,it seemed,had taken an oath that they wouldn't spare the touch of a single cloth in the shelves of a multistoreyed building which,obviously or probably, could be the largest silk showroom in “The World”.But time and tide waits for no man or..woman. We had booked tickets for the evening train ,a superfast train which unlike all the other trains, reaches the station on time,5.30. When the bill was paid and the multitude of bags were delivered the clock ticked 5. I wondered if the clock too wanted to catch train because its hands were rushing towards 5.30. Tucked beneath many bags in an auto rickshaw that was definitely under Hermione's undetectable extension charm,were my aunty,my mom and me. A journey through the roads of kochi is like enjoying a free adventurous ride in a theme park except that there is no seatbelt or any gurantee for safety. The roads arrogantly screamed,“Though I may be the cause, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR LOSS OF VALUABLE (life).It is the responsibilty (and concern) of yours and yours alone.”

Toppled and tumbled somehow we managed to reach the station. And now comes the mountaineering. I bet you ,if you utter the name of god sincerely and climb those narrow ,sloppy steps that leads to the platform carrying two heavy bags on both the limbs of yours,he is likely to liberate you from much of the Karma of previous births.But we were running out of time and wits.My mom and aunty who had clad their beautiful sarees elegantly tucked it around to one side and was ready for the climb,looking messy.You see,fashion and style shall never hinder any woman from reaching their goal. The auto driver,a gentleman,looked at the 3 of us and the bags,he blinked at the hugely disproportionate number of bags and looked at us. He immediately swung into action.He helped us carry the bags and we finally reached the far away land named “platform”.By the grace of god,the train was still there,waiting and frowning. The auto driver helped us carry the bags and we reached th seats.Finally!! We kept the bags in their places and sat.We smiled at each other and breathed a sigh of relief.We made it.All that's well ends well. .......And all that is not???

I shall tell you. It just keeps getting worser.

Three belligerent passengers attacked us for usurping their seats and which on further scrutiny of the tickets was not an allegation but a fact.And thus the plight of the people with too many bags continued. The stress that I give on the number of bags again and again is because it really was stressful. The train had a chaircar arrangement .There was space in the middle through which one person could barely walk. If someone came towards you, you had to have had some training in gymnastics or experience in weight lifting.So people opted the easier way; to place the burden on the shoulders of aisle-side seated people,who were a lot likely to become quite humble by the end of the journey by sharing many a man's burden.Amidst their stares and curses,we struggled to get through. True to the dictum,it just kept on getting worser.We realised that we had to go through many compartments to reach ours.It was impossible to move on.But fatigue can give you ideas and also the courage to believe in them.My mom stopped an IRCTC employee,a Chai waala ,a man who distributes chai in the train.She asked him for help. He was a north indian who was addressed by many as bhai.He was tall and seemed custom made to render this favour to us.He carried the bags in his shoulder and the heights of his kindness and his stature matched.He troubled no one and walked swiftly with 2 or 3 bags and we could easily manage with the rest.And finally we reached our compartment.He placed the bags neatly in its place,helped us get seated and did not accept any money we offered him and went away with a smile.At last we were in our very own seats.Seated comfortably we enjoyed that evening by having chai from our bhai.

Today,many years have passed after the incident. I work in the city of Kochin now. I travel home every weekend in that same old train. He was no where in my memories and in fact I didn't expect that he would be in the same train. But the towering figure cannot be missed.He comes swiftly holding chai kettle to every compartment. He is still the same old bhai. I smile at him and ask him for chai. He smiles back. A smile that he generously endows on everyone,I am sure. I wonder if he knows the reason behind mine when I affectionately ask“ Bhai,ek chai!”

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Another one in a million

It amazed me when I walked into that huge building along with some other thousands of people.It is one of that humungous structure that is the fulcrum of activity of an IT giant.

 It seems that the programmers have unknowingly programmed themselves to behave in a similar manner. 
They dress up in more or less the same shades. The lighter shades that fail to distinguish among stripes or checks. They walk in the same pace making the same strides that echo neither enthusiasm nor reluctance.An incomplete giggle,laughter that seems to have kept a tab on the decibel level is heard across the corridors.

I have seen the big bags,the smaller ones that hold lunch boxes,the shoes,the sandals,the ties.I have seen everything and yet nothing that I can remember and recollect as one that was different from others.
They put up their Identity cards that ought to tell them apart from the crowd. But sadly it doesn't . Sadly nothing does tell anyone apart. Every single one of them embodies the silent murmurings of a crowd.

It is good in a sense that no one can flaunt their positions or privileges that belittles another one. But as every coin has another side...it stimulates the frightful monotonous regularity.

The fulcrum is abuzz,the crowd moves on...The day turns into night...the crowd moves on...

"Inspired" by a boring visit to an IT Park.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Slow down and look around you. The things that you pass by,the people that you meet ,they all have a personal story and so do you.Sometimes the threads of these stories intertwine,else they just fly by.A person whom you have never seen before in your life  may play a part in your story,thus changing it forever.

Sometime back I saw a movie called "Sliding doors";a London woman's love life and career both hinge, unknown to her, on whether or not she catches a train.The movie halts at a point and then it diverges into parallel tracks.One track takes her to the heights and to the light;that is she boards the train and she reaches her apartment at the right moment and finds out that her boyfriend had been cheating on her.Though what follows is " get a haircut,get a new apparel,look beautiful,meet people and MOVE ON" .....the run of the mill thing,it brings a smile on the faces of the viewers on seeing how it actually happens and how she wins a loving heart eventually.The other parallel track that I was talking about,well there is no other track because she misses the train.She misses those moments,continues to love the jerk,her career messes up and its so frustrating to see how she spirals down into the dark abyss.The concept  strikes you so strong because it shows you what you could have had, against what you have ended up with.
The film disturbed me because that one moment which suspended the woman's life in mid air,swaying it between fire and water, was something that one would have considered so insignificant. She misses the train because a child jumps in front of her and she has to,not even stop,but slow down so as to avoid bumping the child. Had the mother caught hold of the child she would have boarded the train.

Films are not altogether a product of fiction or fantasy.Doesnt stuff like this happen to us everyday? My friend had come down from her new city last week.We decided to meet in a cafe.She told me how she missed this place.Down here people look around,well too often,and somehow they never seem to miss things.It is good most of the times as one does not become an isolato. She told me how things were different in her metro city,how people were bustling about,how she felt isolated in the big crowd often.Then she told me that while she was on the way to the cafe she had run out of change and the bus conductor was furious.A lady who was sitting near my friend smiled at her and said she shared the same sorrow. My friend told me how that smile brightened up her day and though it was a trivial matter she told me she felt good knowing that she was not all alone.That made me think,may be that lady smiles at everybody who runs out of change everyday or maybe she does not. But that day it did sooth my friend's aching heart.

On another day,on my way back from the tution class,I didnt get the right bus and I had to take two buses. What I was asked to do by my mother was to get down at a particular stop and get an auto.When I got down at that stop,I saw a bus which was half empty and before I knew it I had boarded it. I knew I had to get down at the very next stop and get an auto neverthless. I did get a side seat but I regretted the whole thing.I got down at the next stop,a major stop for people from everywhere and anywhere from the city. I saw a pale woman approaching the stop.She couldnt see me,her head was  lowered and she was bent. She was walking with the help of a stick.I caught a glimpse of her and I turned away to look for an auto.Then it happened..I felt someone tugging my top and looked around to find this same woman.She was anguished and told me that she was 5 rs short to board her bus.I looked at her confused. I dont think she had asked anybody else. It was as if she came to me directly. I gave her the money. Her eyes brightened,she smiled wide as if she had already reached her destination.She lifted her hand high and uttered those words " this money shall return to you multiplied..you shall have all the money you need,at all the times".With those words,that was worth a billion dollars,she walked away.When I got the auto and went to my mom I had a good news awaiting me.

I could consider all these things as mere coincidences. But something deep inside me says that it need not be so.Of the many times I went for my tutions that was the only day I had to board two buses. And I am not such a fan of buses.I still do not know what made me board the 2nd bus and to end up in that particular stop.I can go on penning down all the coincidences in detail and I might have to put a question mark over everyone of them and I might perhaps end up questioning  the 'coincidenciality' concept.

The thought thread of this post is that "Everyone is part of an intricate plan.Everyone happens to be inside a huge maze.Someone up there who has got the top view knows it all and designs it all"
You never know.Things can go horribly wrong,can take unnecessary turns,spiral down or shoot up..everything happens for a reason. And that reason need not make sense to you or fit your story.Because every "story" is only a chapter of a book that just goes on...Always look on the bright side of things and keep moving forward.That horizon of your life is only a mirage.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To Kill or Not to Kill

Euthanasia (from the Greek: εὐθανασία meaning "good death": εὖ, eu (well or good) + θάνατος, thanatos (death)) refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.

Whose pain and suffering? The patient's or his kin's who unfortunately considers him to be a burden?
Who has vested in man the power to take a life away? Every heartbeat,every breath and every cell's action is known and planned by god. How can man intervene and decide for himself or others?

Being a member of a charity organisation I have often visited govt oldage homes and home for the destitudes. I would like to share 2 of my experiences which made me question the essence of man"kind".

It was during Vishu(Festival in Kerala) that I visited the govt home for the destitudes in Poojapure,TVM. It housed the women discharged from the mental hospital but were never welcomed back home.Since it was a festive time we thought of gifting them with our old garments and other necessary things.During my previous visits I learned that they love to see colorful things and they loved bangles. So I decided to give them my old bangles.The colorful bangles that goes with not just a color but a particular pattern in your attire bought for a particular occasion.We,girls,know that we use it rarely after that occasion either because its not matching with our new dress or the trend is gone.If you have bangles untouched for days please be kind enough to donate them. These women love it.
The ladies have a dormitory with around 20 beds. So far I have only seen the beds and nothing else. I believe that is because there is nothing else there. Not a table or couch or tv or radio or books or music or...Life! We sat in the dormitory and decided to make them sing so as to cheer them up. Everybody took their turn. They sang the first 2 or 3 lines and we joined in after that.Then it happened.It was the turn of a lady whose youthfulness made me weak at the knees.I couldnt gulp down my throat the fact that she must be only around 30 or 35. She sang with a clear voice.She sang the 2nd line and there was a mistake in it.When we corrected her she said apologetically "You see,its hard to remember things when they give u so many medicines".

Another lady who was in her 60's sang a cruel line beautifully " We struggle and bring up our children with all love and care.And now they compete with us uncompassionately for money" .I wonder whether she finished the song because I found her crying when we joined her to sing.

These women have been thrown away liked used toys.When the battery starts to weaken and when one realizes that there is no good coming from it they are thrown to oldage home dustbins. If you ask these women whether they seek a good death they might probably say yes. Because they are not living,they are dying.As every moment passes they are glad they are closing on to the end. They are nothing but pale faced breathing corpses. Euthanasia is a light at the end of a tunnel for them. They are glad to put an end to their meaningless existence. Death is good. It is always good. Bad is pain,suffering and unbearable is neglect. The women know that no love or care shall peep through the foggy clouds of their life ever again.But these women still hope for a future.That is the most sickening fact of all. Some of the women know that the barred gates(of the building) have caged them forever.Yet some of them hope that the gates and arms of their loved ones shall open for them one day.

The underlying fact is not complex.It is as simple as ever. Nobody wants to share your sufferings or ill fortune.You will live a happy life only till you are capable of doing so. When the time comes and you cant help to ask for help it becomes differently sad.

Euthanasia is not the voice of the sufferers.It is the sigh of relief of their kin. Nobody prefers death over life.They shall prefer death only when they feel they have already been considered dead by their loved ones.

Love has the power to make the most excruciating suffering meaningful.It has the power to heal and it has the power to succeed. The world's renowned doctors consider love as the most powerful medicine. It gives the sufferer hope and energy to beat it off and come back. Love is good life and good death.

Well I guess I ought to change the caption "To Love or not to Love"
Just think ...Would you prefer Euthanasia if your dear ones hold your hand and whisper in your ear that they love you and need you back when you are going through pain?