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."