Today, a geriatric man whacked me with his newspaper at Churchgate station. He looked senile and sweet, so I didn’t mind getting my head knocked around. As I walked away, this apprehension crept over me that, perhaps one and a half year of not commuting by the local train has made me cushy. I might have become a shell of what I used to be – a tigress to a domesticated cat – this cannot be! It is now time to review, remember and reassess my skills as one of the 6.9 million daily local train commuters of Bombay. I share this with all of you.
I have broken up the guide into three parts – Before, During & After
Cover yourself up– Head to toe, especially for stations like Andheri or Dadar. You do not want to give lecherous men any masturbation material
Tie your hair – TIE YOUR HAIR. I cannot stress on this point enough. Apart from fellow commuters complaining about your hair flying in their faces, nothing makes your hair more greasy than train travel
Learn the platform walk – Never walk straight, zig zag through the crowd quickly and don’t care about people behind you, they know well enough to take care of themselves
Train Direction –Trains run helter-skelter in all directions. When confused, it’s best to ask the food stall vendors at the station. Other commuters might be as confused as you or so busy that they’ll march right by you
Be alert – Just because you know the drill, it doesn’t mean you can’t accidentally board a train heading towards the depot. Listen to the announcements and watch what other people around you are doing
Everything must go (in) – You want to talk on the phone or listen to music while boarding a train during the rush hour? Don’t. Put away your cellphones and iPods safely in your bag before boarding. You don’t want to lose it in a swirl of psychotic blur
Tidal wave woes – The rush hour rush is a cold unyielding force. Let this tidal wave wash into the compartment first. If you are feeling adventures then ride the wave by standing in front, aiming your body towards the direction you want, and let the people push you into the train
Once in, push – Push and shove your way to a happier (read: less stinkier place). There is no shame in pushing and shoving, provided you don’t internally damage anyone with your elbows
* Insert station name * kiss side pe hain? – If in doubt, always ask at least two persons as to from which side you can alight the train for your stop
Train Etiquette – Always try and make way for people when their station arrive, otherwise they will knock you down
Cool Down – Try to get either a sitting window spot or a standing spot next to the door. If all fails, find a functioning fan and stand under it. Anything is better than nothing
Claustrophobia Centre – Try not to think you are in the capital of claustrophobia. If you do so, close your eyes, count to ten and then start to think of green fields. Or Johnny Depp, whichever works.
Flash Forward – At least one stop before your station approaches, move to the side your station’s platform will appear. In rush hour crowd, you might not be able to get off at your intended platform if you wait till the last minute
Cross arm stance – If your personal space is being invaded in a crowded train, cross your arms and firmly elbow those who try to push you around and take your spot. It’s your spot. You’ve earned it. Die, bitch, die.
Hold on to the horses! – As your station approaches and the train slows down, chances are the people behind you are bearing down on you, hard. You hold on to the train handle or door handle, tight. You do not want to get pushed out of the train, or push someone else out of the train. That would be really embarrassing now, wouldn’t it?
Assume Amensia – Board your rickshaw/taxi – spray yourself with lots of perfume, sanitize your hands, reapply lipstick, comb your hair, straighten yourself and forget this goddamn ordeal ever happened – till you travel again, of course.