If you have stayed in Mumbai, you might have traveled by the local trains at least once in your life. I have traveled, daily almost for three years. This is a simple effort of listing some observations.
Central Railway has more video coaches compared to western railway. For those who are not aware of the local train lingo let me explain the concept of video coach and its importance. A video coach is the compartment in which the ladies coach and the gents coach is separated by a small window (grill) providing unobstructed view of the ladies compartment to the cat-fight hungry males of the gent’s compartment.
It is always entertaining to watch the expressions of the female travelers. I believe that some girls watch others in a more embarrassing way than a guy checking out a girl. A man will simply look at the face, the vital assets, that’s it, our world ends there. For girls it starts with the colour of her hair, analyzing which celebrity’s hairstyle she has copied to the brand of the top she is wearing, whether it suits her figure. In short all the way from the top to the bottom, the last comparison being whether the colour of her nail paint matches with the color of her hair, dress etc. All this will probably take her less than 15 seconds, and that I would say is some serious talent. It is equally funny to look at the way these females will point the odd ones out, without even pointing a finger, just by making signs with their eyes and tilting their necks.
Amongst all the checking out you will probably hear a very loud sound, females fighting for the seat, or if there has been a stamping of feet, the reason is not important but the result is. The fight is really interesting if the two females belong to two different worlds. One being a girl from a sophisticated well to do family, wearing a good pair of jeans, a nice top, fashionable sandals, someone who resembles the small time model on page 55 of Femina , ( In simple Bambaiyya Hindi, ITEM) . Opponent of our item being a “kolin”, more famously known as the macchiwali and for my friends unaware of both, a fisherwoman clad in the traditional saree ( I wonder if it’s an unwritten law that a machhiwali should only wear sarees green or yellow in colour).
What makes the macchiwali noticeable is the quantum of jewels she will be wearing. Most of the time wearing at least ½ kg of gold, necklaces that look large enough to serve as chains to attach a small ship’s anchor or maybe even pull a car. Anyways just imagine the situation when females from such diverse backgrounds enter a fight.
Our item will usually make a sad face looking at the macchhiwali, muttering something in English. The macchhiwali will usually respond with a very brave loud comment. Being a very sophisticated girl, our item responds “excuse me’’ in her polished accent. There is nothing more annoying to any macchiwali than to hear someone talking back in English, call it jealousy or pure instinct the words “excuse me”, are also considered as abuses. At this point the machhiwali starts responding with the best of its kind abuses in Marathi, call it a habit, our item has to respond back in English. If she is traveling with a friend the first lines usually are “Oh shit/yaar shiiiiiii look at the way she is talking”. And then round one of the bout begins. The cat fight goes on with the macchiwaali trying to hurt our item with her abusing; now in Hindi, I guess butchering Hindi language more than her opponent. The fight continues and the male passenger across the grill is enjoying the show. The scene reminds of the scenes from movies where a criminal is watching a fight from behind the bars and is enjoying every bit of the action. A crowd would have already gathered near the screen (by now it has turned into an entertainment screen). It’s interesting to note that there will be guys stamping on each other’s feet or pushing each other, but instead of fighting they show great understanding. Instead of screaming or fighting, they will make some space for the other guy so that even he can get a glimpse of the ongoing entertainment show. Amongst all the screaming and shouting some old lady will play the role of NATO and bring about unwanted peace. Citizens of the neighboring coach hate this NATO delegate, and the peaceful citizens resemble the rebel army, upset that NATO has struck again. I hope that Lalu or P Chidambaram do not read this post and introduce new entertainment tax for travelers in the video coach.
Recently saw some advertisements on the upcoming Mumbai Metro railway project. The metro project promises commuters with AC coaches, automatic doors and a journey in a train which is not crowded. It somehow disheartens me to think that if there is no rush in the train and any pushing or pinching, there won’t be any cat fights (I pray that it does not happen). In such a scenario will the travel be as entertaining? will the cat fights come to an end? I hope that all the items find some reason to fight and that the entertainment in the video coach does not end, but now it becomes more pleasurable with cushioned seats and air conditioned environment.