As I wind up the day's work and get ready to go home, it is not the excitement of watching a couple of Friends' episodes or the thought of the couple of shots of Absolut awaiting me at home that is on my mind. I am instead dreading the long journey back home on the 7.24 local.
Statisticians get orgasms citing the number of people travelling on Mumbai's local trains everyday. The zillions of commuters travelling on trains designed to carry one hundredth of that amount face a formidable task reaching office in the morning and then back home in the evening in a condition in which their colleagues, family and mirror can recognise them.
The Mumbai local during peak hour is like a reluctant hydra headed monster. It moves along slowly, hissing its way into a station, where it disgorges hundreds of sapped bodies, only to gobble up an even greater number of fresh prey. In the sixteen minute morning journey from Bandra to Lower Parel, I undergo a huge amount of emotional catharsis. I ponder over the futility of life everytime someone crushes my toes or prods my liver with his elbows. It is as if Lord Krishna whispers into my ear about the ephemerality of a good shoeshine or a well ironed shirt.And I often find joy in pain, like when someone scratches my arm thinking that it is his or when I get back at the world, wiping my sweaty brow against someone else's hitherto pristine white shirt.