Growing (up) pains


I am now a good week behind my assignments for the Blogging101 course, but no matter – I’m going to try catch up as much as I can and as often as I can. The assignment I am attempting today is to publish a post based on a blogging prompt. While I already DID a post on a prompt, I’m feeling a little generous (!) and have decided to grace y’all with another post.

The prompt today (The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “West End Girls.”) asks us to demographically describe where we live. Unfortunately, I (now) live in a city (and a part of a city) where the only discernibly distinguishing aspect of the population is that they live in the trains. Like literally. People in Mumbai leave their homes early in the day, have their morning cuppa and breakfast in the “Mumbai Local” (if they’re exceptionally lucky they are also treated to the in-train shower service, courtesy of the sliding doors that refuse to close or to stay shut), do a lot of their household chores in the train (I kid you not – I have seen people peeling and slicing vegetables, sewing buttons and knitting winterwear in the trains) and sometimes even their office or school work in the trains (hey teachers, if you blame students for illegible handwriting, now you know why; your forever dedicated students work on any surface they can find in the train to finish their homework. Respect, yo!).

I know loads of people who do not travel everyday by train (I think they’re downright stupid spending their time in traffic-packed roads in their tiny tiny cars instead of lounging luxuriously in the oversized train compartments, but, hey, that’s my opinion). Even they are not spared of the impact that the trains have on how this city lives – because if trains are delayed, your colleagues probably will be late and you just cannot get ready for that presentation in time; because a train strike means your classmate tasked with a section of the classwork will either be late or not arrive at all and that means you, the puny car traveller, will have more work to do.

So whenever I’m asked to describe what it is like where I live (and grew up), I can only really think of how the trains gave me some skills I could never have acquired anywhere else (like the ability to ask perfect strangers where they were getting off, just so I could get to rest my legs after a while; or how to haggle (or not) with the vendor to get the best price for those knockoff earrings that go perfectly with a dress you bought last weekend; or how to recognise the best oranges (or peaches, or guavas or sweet corn) in a bunch). I realise it doesn’t quite matter whether my locality was filled with affluent aristocrats, with middle-class meddlers or with the pauper population – its very likely their lives are just as intricately linked to the trains. How a mode of transport has such an impact on society is as much a testimony to the city as it is to the people of the city, but I’ll say this – whoever you are, if you’re in the city you’ve got to live with the trains.

As they say in Italy:

Quando finisce la partita, i pedoni, le torri, i cavalli, i vescovi, i due re e le due regine tutti vanno nello stesso scatolo
(When the chess game is over, the pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, kings, and queens all go back into the same box)

Signing off with a rush to make my 12:43 train…

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