Monday, May 12, 2008

Local Trains – They predict the PULSE of Mumbai!!!

Out of sheer boredom and reluctance to read newspaper (which btw – is an occupational hazard for me) – I am writing this blog as the only form of entertainment I can have at work. I am done with my part and am waiting for the highly coveted BBG access. Oh btw – for non I-bank mortals – BBG is Bloomberg – a sort of database with current market details etc). So, what should a person do – when there is no mail access – talking on phone for extended period of time in office is considered to be unprofessional and when you are bored.

I decided to write a blog. I know – painful as it may be for people who read it – but good thing about blogs – U ALWAYS have an option of NOT READING. J so, what should I write on? My past few blogs have been abysmally depressing – so I figured why not a cheerful one. But while indulging in this monologue (I often do that) I realized it’s difficult to write a cheerful blog when you are sooooo bored. Therefore, a thoughtful one instead – raise a few questions – give gyaan etc. I mean isn’t that the easiest thing to do on planet earth and something that EVERYONE likes doing – GIVE GYAAAN!!! So here are my 2 cents of Sharmili wisdom (read at your own risk – people knowing me know that wisdom and Sharmili is something similar to the story of a sword in a monkeys hand J…)

These days I travel a lot by local trains in Mumbai. When I was young – a loooong time ago that is – I used to travel everyday by local trains from my house to college, classes, parties etc. For me – some of my best friendships have been formed while traveling on trains. I used to have these random bets saying I would go and talk to this complete stranger for say 10 minutes or say till next station etc. and it used to be fun. One of the outcomes of this bet fetched me a friendship band on friendship day you know J In some cases, people hated me during these journeys (read shruti), some simply adored me (read the girl who gave me a friendship band – I am old u know – don’t remember her name), some got to know me (read sudha) and some became friends for life (read Priya). So, the moo point of this is trains were synonymous with friendships and fun J

Now as I leave the train of the yore and come to the present – a worldwide phenomenon (world here restricted to people using local trains) is listening to music or reading a newspaper while you are on a train. There would hardly be a person without those earphones and glares (typically used as a hair band) or the infamous TOI/pink paper in their hands (me try very hard to be in the latter category but somehow reading newspaper is not too exciting – like my bets earlier were)… Now, the compartments are QUIET!!! The only sound made is by local trains passing alongside. It’s strange! When I was a teenager (would like to bring to notice – that this was indeed a long time ago) – I used to get yelled at for being loud or boisterous and disturbing the peace of the compartment with my gang – but now I die to hear some friends just randomly gossiping about college or just talking about how life sucks (btw – that still remains my favorite timepass J… just need an audience and I am at my best)

So it got me thinking. Recently I have had the feeling that Mumbai is changing – from a very friendly cosmopolitan city it is moving to a more individualistic, space loving city. I am of course too immature to even state this with confidence or dole out the implications/causes for the same. But it’s a little disconcerting. And this is not restricted to local trains only. Kids these days are rarely seen playing. They would go to summer camps (a new phenomenon that has struck Mumbai) or have sony play stations, go to malls, spend time at McDs or CCD (its almost impossible to get a place during summers or weekend at these joints) or watch movies at adlabs. Of course an outcome of greater spending power but is it a better way of spending time?

And of course this environment gets to you – so there are times when I would prefer my parents giving me space (a concept which EVEN my 5 year old niece demands) or listening to music/watching something on my laptop instead of chatting up with my friends/relatives.

Somewhere I have too become individualistic. I feel sometimes that I too would probably react the same way to kids making halla now as those aunties reacted when I was a kid. But some wise man once said – ALL for the BEST!!! So who am I to question that now!!!


Sid said...

There are these time when I think, "She's not all that old after all". And then I see this post and I think, "No, she is."

Hnmmm, I agree though. It is different now - with kids, with people in general. I see people here in London's Underground and in its own way the scene is pretty much similar to the one you described in the Mumbai local. People mind their own business - ears plugged, minds plugged. They read the free Metro paper and the only talking that you would typically here is "Excuse me", "Sorry", "Thank You". It IS individualistic. I guess we are getting there too!

Viraj Datar said...

If you remember the description of the American public life that I used to give you, you must have quickly correlated it with this. BUt I guess one dominant factor here is the lack of your gang of friends with whom you used to take those earlier journeys. Even today, if you had your Borivali gang with you from Borivali to Matunga, I'm certain that you wouldnt be listening to music or reading newspaper all along the way....

BUt friends dont stay with you as they did as we grow older.... its one of the more difficult things to accept and live with in adult life i guess....