Sarees are tucked, purses are zipped, dupattas are held tightly, train has arrived and Phew!
Within a blink of an eye, they are all in. Wheels roll and their journey begins. One wouldn’t even figure it out who got in first and who was the last one to enter. Once they are inside the train, they start reserving seats by asking the ladies who are already sitting to keep it for themselves. Not just to sit, but even to stand they reserve places. Funny, isn’t it? But it is as true. These beautiful creatures are angry, funny, vulnerable and egoistic all at once. These are the women in action who are different from each other in every possible way, yet they are just the same once they are inside the train. Their day starts with Mumbai local!
Local trains are the life lines of this vibrant city and its suburbs. Millions of people travel everyday back and forth with an average of 6.1 million commuters. It has the highest passenger density recorded among any urban railway system. These are corporates, college goers, employees, maid-servants etc. One won’t be able to experience Mumbai without travelling in local train at least once. Local trans have either 9 or 12 compartments of which 3 have been alloted or women since 1992.
I take a train early morning around 8 everyday or my college. I always see same women at same seats and same women I saw the previous day getting into the first compartment of the second class at same time. This is no coincident. People have their work or college timings and if they miss the train they were supposed to take, it’s like their lie will come to a standstill. What I mean to say is they are late or their respective works.
Well, these are the women in action who are different from each other in every possible way, yet they are just the same when in train. These women are incredible. I won’t fall short of addressing them as superwomen. They are always on the go. Always ready for an action packed day. Their days are incomplete without some adventure in train, not necessarily in performance, but entertainment. Once they enter into the second class compartment their lives change. Their action begins at the starting point and doesn’t end until they get down. One should see these women catching the train… If one observes em carefully everyday, he or she will always find these women at the same position as the previous day. And the clan that gets into the train at other stations.
Once they’re in train all are like one another irrespective of their background. Same tactics to catch the seat, similar methods of behaving. It’s like some code of conduct in the manner they behave. One can really not divide these women in categories, but yes, to mention few we have some. The ones to top this list are the first entrants. These women enter the train first at the starting point, capture their seats, doze off and are often lost in their wonderland. Then comes the women who get into the train at later stations and start booking seats for themselves. Their typical way of asking for is seat is, “Kahan utarna hai? Mujhe dena” (Where are you getting down?Give me the seat!). Sounds hilarious, but yes this is what everyone does. Then are the women who don’t like to be touched by the other in any circumstances, their expressions are worth noticing. These are mostly the corporate sector women or the most tidy ones, they are like patients of OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Other weird ones are the “quack-quack” women. They enter the train compartments pushing everyone ahead of them and quarreling with fellow passengers. Their mouths are never shut. Seems like they fight with others in the train so as to take revenge of their tiffs with their husbands or in-laws or perhaps, just to vent out the frustration. Shhhh! Better not talk about them. How do we forget the fisher women? Ugh? Their stinking clothes, water dripping out of their fish baskets and of course, them getting into other compartment of trains in spite of one being alloted the luggage coach. Not their fault actually, men get into the luggage compartments making impossible for these vendors to enter, especially women. There are others who enter the compartment with some kind of bruises or scars, rather burn marks. These are the marks of violence against them. Poor they, they end up becoming the object of attention of most. And also, there are beggers entering, children, women, and even men. They sing in the train and ask or alms. Some are even blind and physically challenged. This is sad! The ugly truth of life.
Women form their groups and make friends within the compartment they travel daily. They have their usual prayers, gossiping and jolly laughter. They are fun to watch, but also a sight of annoyance at times when they fight with their fellow commuters.
I might have left out on some, but all that they are or me, are the women in action. They wake up before the sunrise, prepare tiffin for their husbands and children. Get ready for their respective Jobs, come home and cook again. Please their families. And life goes on like this.
At the end, I would just say that these are the women who keep me going. They are like a tall tree amid a tornado. May what come the show must go on…
Women are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, and they are a dome beneath which the entire universe resides. Every role they play, is taken up as a new challenge. They are the masters of their own craft. They are the past, present and the future. Salute to these women in action who play various roles and inspire us to keep moving on. ,