Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Enraged and tired, Borivali commuters finally protest

Angry commuters at Borivali station in Mumbai have blocked all trains on the station for more than four hours now. Harried rush from one platform to the other due to last minute diversion of local trains had already irked them no bounds and a sudden cancellation of a local at 9.10 am on Wednesday was a trigger. They demand more trains and better management. (A report)

Their fury was piling up, after gross mismanagement and discomfort when extra train platforms were added. As the news goes, their trouble started in August. This article, Railway woes for Borivali residents, throws light on what is behind the impromptu fury.

From what angry protestors say and the TOI report, this is what enrages the Mumbai commuter:

1) The railways needed more platforms to run more trains from Borivali

2) With no space available, they extended the platform number 1

3) Platform number 7 and 8 were introduced.

4) There is no exit point on platform no 8

5) So, Commuters who get off at platform 8 have to walk for at least 10 minutes to get out on the road.

6) Trains schedules are frequently and suddenly changed

7) Commuters complain that often a train supposed to come at platform number 1 is suddenly diverted to platform 8, they have to walk a good kilometre

8) Crowd of more than one or two trains gathers at platforms, making the walk slow and tedious.

9) Many miss their trains thus.

The fact that railways wanted to increase trains and so introduced new platforms is a silver lining. It is possible for a system as massive as the Indian railways to come across some glitches— after all, local trains do their bit in accomplishing the 'Six Sigma' services of Mumbai dabbawalas, as with being the chosen mode of transport for millions of Mumbai residents. But if inconvenience becomes the order of the day, a protest as this, is a natural consequence.


I remember reading somewhere on a blog, a writing so emotional and candid, about an incident on a Mumbai local. I don't even remember if it was a post or a comment, but someone had talked about a girl who sold rubber bands and earrings in the local . With an infant tucked to her, she was negotiating the crowd to sell her stuff.

Someone was haggling a lot and she, otherwise quiet and aloof, suddenly ran up a temper. "Saala do rupiye ke liye chik chik karta hai, mat khareedo."

The blogger apparently asked her something and she replied, 'Maa mar gayee, ab se ise leke aana padega".

And then I have heard there are women who have their kitty parties, haldi-kunkoo on the train. Who cut vegetables for the evening meal on the train. Who get up at four in the morning to cook for the family before boarding a train at six. I always linked Mumbai with its crazy fast life and local trains. This news somehow brought all these unrelated things I have heard or read about the trains.

The first time I was to board a local, I was quite scared. My cousin was like, "Gauritai, don't worry, you simply have to be there and ensure there's a crowd behind you. The mob will push you in and the mob will push you out."


workhard said...

I have been to mumbai and the train ride is so scary and the train barely waits

BPO work from home

Sara said...

I have been to Mumbai once and my first observation was -Yahan log chalte nahin ,bhaagte hain.
And I could not get down at my stop because of the rush-thats Mumbai,you have to be seasoned enough to gte going!!

dharmabum said...

oh i rememthe first time. i think i was all of 12 years when pa took me to the city on a vacation. and we could never stick together on the train. all i had to do was remember the station where i had to get off, and some good samaritan would always hold my hand and drag me off at the right place!

bombay is so much life in once big city!


We do have the right to protest. But we do not have the right to upset other people's works. There might have been a person going for a job interview.There might be a pregnant woman going to hospital for delivery. We cannot hurt others in the pretext of protesting about some issue.

Julia Scissor said...

The local trains. I have lived here all my life but how I despise them. I just hate being jostled. A classmate gave me this advise for boarding the locals, "Fast and with force."

Blog aavadla bara ka.

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Gauri Gharpure said...

workhard-- true.. :)

Sara-- yes, they know how to be quick and are street-smart, in a typical mumbaikar way that no one can simulate..

Dharma-- thanks for sharing a special memory.. the city is huge in its life quotient, absolutely

Faheem-- u r right.. i feel the borivali incident was impromptu, showing people's anger and not a manipulated political meeting.. if u want to see protests disrupting common life, welcome to west bengal..

Julia Scissor-- thanks for dropping by the blog.. i followed your post on the ndtv vs blogger incident and loved it..

Joe Pinto said...

My dear Gauri,

I was stunned when I saw this topic on your blog.

The packed local trains is the reason why I left the Mumbai that I love so much.

As a little kid, I have travelled on the delightful trams in Mumbai.

When we were staying at Dadar in the late 60s, I used to travel 10 minutes by train from Dadar to St Mary's in Byculla. The locals were getting difficult.

But my father was an officer in the Central Railway and, therefore, we got a free First Class pass, so we missed the crush in the third class bogies.

When I joined St. Xavier's in 1967, the journey only got longer, 20-25 minutes from Dadar till VT. But in the first class it was still bearable.

Fortunately, I escaped from the locals of Mumbai in 1973 and worked in village Maharashtra from 1973-77. If not for the horrors of Emergency I may have never come back to Mumbai.

When I did get back to Mumbai in 1977, the population had already packed the trains to choking.

Slowly, travelling by local trains became a torture that I would dread. And when I was in Bhandup, during the late 70s and early 80s, the agony became too much to bear.

Fortunately again, I got married to Kalpana, a Pune girl in 1982 and decided to move to Pune, where I also became a full-time journalist.

Now the wheels are turning within the wheels. Approaching the retirement age of 58, I dread travelling in Pune too. There are no trains here that can be packed (though I have heard that the locals to and from Lonavla are worse that the locals of Mumbai!!!).

But here we have our local variant of torturers on the roads, what I call the "chhote shaitans" -- the two-wheelers that in the end may murder Pune, unless public transport improves.

I have been led by your hand, dear Gauri, into pouring out my heart. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to vent my pent-up feelings.

Warm regards,
- Joe.