Sometimes i wonder why i even bother staying in this city. Perhaps this city is just for those who have cars. Or those who live in ‘town’ and need not bother about commuting. Its not for people who live in the suburbs, who lives are ruled and ruined by rickshawallas, taxiwallas, buses and trains. This city is not for those who travel in soggy weather, in soggy clothes, and even soggier shoes, for more than two hours, one way daily, to LIVE! Swell life, i say!
For mere suburban mortals, this city is just a place where you get into one end of the bone crunching system, get churned and are flushed out, only to get back into it, in the same evening.
Yesterday morning I got stuck on the foot-over-bridge at Thane. It was raining heavily outside, while steadily dripping in through the countless holes on the station roof. Thane station has 7 platforms servicing central railway. (am not counting the Thane-Vashi sector). Some canceled services, two or three simultaneous trains – up and down, and the entire bridge was chock-a-block with people going in either direction.
Men and women struggling, pushing, trespassing, screaming, stumbling…..trying to get to the platform. Short people like me were the worst hit, stuck between bodies, unable to move, unable to breathe. Women struggled all the more, screaming at men falling over them, defending themselves with umbrellas, bags, and hands. In the middle of “aaram se chalo”, “arre, dhaka mat marro”, I overheard…” its better to cross tracks. Its less risky.”
I still think it was a miracle that there was no stampede.
I lost and found my shoes in the rush, stayed behind a ‘hatta-khatta’ chap pushing his way through, and made it on to the platform in one piece. I was still shaking, and close to tears when I boarded the train tho.
This morning, a woman fell down while alighting from a train on Platform no. 6 at Thane. She was trampled on by those getting off behind her, and those rushing into the train. Even after the train had moved, she was still lying on the platform, humiliated, shocked, and in pain. And a senior citizen who was also caught in the rush commented with disgust, “mansa aahe ki jaanwar” (are these humans or animals?)
Does anyone care?
Is anybody bothered?
As long as the attendance register is marked; As long as salary slips arrive; We will push, we will fall, but we will survive.
What does it matter if twelve people die commuting everyday? Small change.
What does it matter if others lose their limbs, or slip into coma while traveling?
Is this not “‘bambai meri jaan?”