Monthly Archives: May 2020
Vocal about local
Mumbaikars are on the verge of getting vocal about local.
Kab shuru hoga?
There are two types of people in Mumbai. The ‘local’ and the angrez ke aulad who are the “oh I haven’t stepped into a local train even once in my life” poor things.
It’s close to two months and the local trains in Mumbai are off track. This portends bad tidings for a city that rises in the morning to the assuring sound of the train hurtling down the track fencing our residences, and sleeps only when the ek chalis ki last local pulls into its last stop.
Come, let us relive our local sentiments.
If every city in the country were to have its own signature song, Mumbai would claim copyright on:
Gaadi bula rahi hai,
Seeti baja rahi hai…
The pedigreed Mumbaikar witnesses life at close quarters from where he stands in the local train, at vantage point, between the thighs of the seated passengers. No one complains because everyone is equally touched, unless of course, you rub them the wrong way. If you’ve always wondered why most Mumbaikars are pathetic at the game of musical chairs, the answer lies in the local train compartment. In the game, you need to be alert and grab the closest vacant chair. But as local train passengers, we reserve our seats in advance, politely. “Aap Dadar utaroge? Mujhe seat dena.” From then on, it’s a ride of sweet anticipation until Dadar. After that, the seat is yours until your destination arrives, and the polite voice that booked your seat earlier fills the warm void you leave behind. If you grab a seat out of turn, your co-passengers will ensure you reach your destination, spiritually your final, even before the train enters the platform.
No, Mumbaikars are not ruthless. On the contrary, the habit of commuting by the local automatically moulds us to become hearty and magnanimous. While we ourselves are perched on one leg, in a compartment that breathes as one big lung, we confidently call out with stretched hand to an aspiring on-boarder on the platform, “Aaja, aaja, bohot jagah hai,” and pull him up to kissing distance.
The bursting insides of an Asangaon-bound local is a veritable class for Communication skills, especially if you’ve enrolled from Dadar, a blurry spectacle of a sea of humans morphing into an alien race with shared limbs and a common mission. As a two-decade long trainer in Business Communication, I can swear by the effectiveness of the Mumbai local in showcasing the four styles of Communication.
The Director is the no-nonsense baritone that says, “Hey, andar sarak”, and repeats it at least four times, each time lowering the pitch and sharpening the delivery.
The Expresser gets pushed and shoved around, but continues to narrate his story to his accomplice over a sea of pates, “phir maloom, kya hua…”
You can spot the Thinker with your eyes closed. He’s the one who theorises. “Aap 20 degree iss taraf ghoom jaaoge, toh hum dono aaraam se khade ho sakte hain.”
Misfortune befalls him if the guy to whom this deduction is being discoursed is the Director. In such a case, be prepared for some succulent vocabulary-building exercise.
That’s when the Harmoniser’s shaky plea struggles to rise over the din. “Bhai saab, rehene do. Sab ko takleef ho rahi hai. Jhagada Jhagadi mat karo, Gandhiji ko yaad karo…”
The true Mumbaikar has grown into a fully-functional adult only because of the lessons learnt in the “there’s room for all” heart of the local. It’s been two months, the heart has not beaten even once. TV channels can shout their throats hoarse about COVID recovery rates, and on-line delivery of liquor. Smokescreen in the form of relief packages can be stuffed in our faces.
For the rest of the country, ‘local’ is a mere word. For the Mumbaikar, it’s a feeling. Our local is languishing in the yard, and we are deeply saddened.
The Mumbaikar’s patience is smouldering. So don’t blame us if we carry out the instruction, and become vocal about local.
Tab tak, aap bhavano ko samjho.
Corona times are also times of quiet reflection, especially about the future. Here’s a piece I wrote last year. Little did I realise then that its time will come sooner than later.