Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mumbai meri Jaan - I

The Train Theory explained

Railways are the lifeline of a city like Mumbai. Here is an attempt to explain the science of a daily commuter's experiences

A High school teacher once explained the three states of matter taking the analogy of the Mumbai local.
Peak hours correspond to the solid state - commuters like atoms are cramped together. Then comes the liquid state - as the crowd goes down and then the gaseous state - during late night times when there are hardly any atoms in the given space.

The railways run on a completely different time zone, the IRT, the INDIAN RAILWAY TIME. It is always a bit behind the IST and so you will not actually miss a train if you fail to turn up on time (according to the IST).

When the time comes, the train comes. Its overflowing with people. There are people hanging on the doors and also sticking to some closed doors. Maybe they may mutate to Spidermen of the future. For an onlooker it is a mystery as to how can so many people occupy so less space. But if the onlooker is to board the train the secret will soon be revealed.

As the train starts to slow down, live human bodies start falling/rolling onto the platform. And before the excess is thrown out of the train, twice of what fell down, try to get in to start a journey of a lifetime. Fortunate are those who enjoy it on a daily basis.

There is no 'Charge!!' or 'Attack!!' or ' Har Har Mahadeo!!'. It is a silent war which proves Mr. Darwin's survival of the fittest. It is an equalizer like death. All men are equal for the moment and the fittest survive and to survive man loses all sense of status or shame. He simply has to survive. He simply has to get in.

And then he gets in. Somehow he squeezes in and tries to get into the interiors where it is comparatively less crowded. But he is not able to do so till the train reaches the next station.

Anyhow the train now starts moving. Some of the passengers are still hanging to the doors with only a feet and a hand holding to some part of the train and the remaining part completely enjoying the flight. These people believe that there is enough space inside and so push inside. You feel the push from your backside and though you donot wish to pass it on, you push the person in front of you. But exactly after 3 seconds, the oscillation is to be completed and the push returns from the opposite side and you again pass it back as you are a part of the system. You can be lucky enough to learn a few new abuses for being a part of the system, once when the oscillation reaches one end and then after it reaches the other end.

Now to the physics of the passenger's condition.Starting from zero gravity. You can actually levitate in the air. Only a select few get to place their feet on the ground. Then the body. You get the feeling of a lemon inside a squeezer. You are forced to get into curvilinear position. And finally the head. One of your neighbor's arm would be at your neck. Just like a bottle opener trying to pop out your head from your body.

And then finally you reach your destination. By then you suffer so much that you fail to understand that you are suffering. You become numb to all that is happening to you. You are in a situation as explained in George Orwell's 1984. You learn, you understand and then you finally accept. Even Nazi concentration camps will not be able to break you down.

And when you get down, its redemption. All your sins are washed away for the past thousand lives and for the coming thousand lives. You walk away with the radio playing in your ears.

Some brand of luggage (VIP baggage) has rightly said while advertising : 'You survive Mumbai, you survive the world'.
But in the end when you walk out with the radio playing, its weird when it plays

'Hai dil, hai mushkil, hai jeena yahan,
Jaara hatke, jaara baachke,
Yeh hai Bombai meri jaan'
(from the old movie CID)


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