I am loving this experience. Of travelling alone. Of deciding when to talk or not to, to eat or not to. Of out smarting the cabs, the auto wallahs and the city snarls.
I board the train at Koperkhairne to Airoli. I have to reach Vikhroli by 9.30 am.At 8 am the platform is not crowded. The queue at the ticket counter is not too long.The school girls, college girls, men, women, the vendors all wait quietly as neatly dressed workers clean the platform. Stray dogs rest beneath iron benches. Men and women are hooked on to their cell phones. A man sells puffed rice and roasted peanuts standing by the staircase.
At 8.006 the Thane Slow chugs in. I am carried into the train by my co-passengers.I manage to to find space to stand comfortably. It is a ladies coach. Someone shouts bag?? I squeeze in to make room.
Three hanging cosmetic outlets showcase hair clips of various hues and sizes. Each hair clip costs Rs. 5. The girl seated at the edge of the seat studies the clips and reaches out gingerly. As she fiddles with the clip, a strong fragrance of jasmine wafts in the air and with it comes a woman dressed in a bright yellow saree. She smiles encouragingly.
The girl settles for a pair of green and bright red clips. With the price being so low, there is no room for bargain.She hands over the money and pushes the clips into her bag where they settle next to the hot lunch box.
Shortly a man in lilac shirt and black pants makes his presence felt. He moves forward and hangs a set of bracelets and bangles for sale. These are silver in colour and look expensive. He stands guard for some time and leaves his hanging shop for exploration by his customers.
In the meanwhile , the lady with jasmine in her hair has moved her wares to the other side.Husband and wife? I study the man and the woman. I am still wondering when the train reaches Airoli.I get out and walk quickly to the bus station outside. I have to reach pumping and thereafter catch an auto to Vikhroli West.
The last day, I asked for a ticket to jumping and the conductor had looked amused. Pumping, he said while handing me the ticket. I am learning, I had thought to myself.
I had decided to utilise public transport in Mumbai and it has been a worthwhile experience.
In Mumbai, do as Mumbaikars do…Eat vada pav, dal khachodi, dahi puri or sabu dana ki vada,make friends easily, reach out to help, look busy and relaxed at the same time and dress smart whether you are a student, office-goer or a house wife and bargain, bargain and bargain…