The pentograph was cutting the full moon at bizarre angles as the train sped by on a Sunday night. The wind had been left damp and cold by the surprising November showers. I was returning from a friend’s place after a rejuvenating weekend and the local seemed unusually empty till I realized that it was a Sunday.
On weekdays while on our way to our offices we all fight for a place to sit or stand comfortably, but on a Sunday the equation changes. The whole compartment is empty but you don’t feel like sitting. I just walked over to the door as the train made its way past the crowded Dadar station. The cool breeze started hitting my face as it threatened to drown out my music player which was running at full volume. I realized the weird mix of sound that is created by the rushing wind and some amazing music in your ears. It sounds wonderful.
As I stood on the very edge of the door, a smile just crossed my face much to the amazement of the co-passengers. I realized that time sure flies. It wasn’t more than six years back that we would travel by the same locals; me, Uddhav, Narain and Sudarshan, four of us on our way to our junior college in town. Hanging out at the door everyday by choice rather than reason. The days we spent scanning the platforms, looking for ‘hot girls’ or as we would call it then – bird-watching.
I remembered the first time I tried boarding a running train when my bag got caught in the support rod and I got dragged all along the platform. We all laughed our asses off after that incident. But soon enough we got the hang of it, quite literally. I remembered those times when Uddhav used to run on a mid-station halt to a tea-stall for a glass of water and we screaming at him to get back.
When you are traveling in Bombay, half of your time is spent on the locals everyday. We never regretted even a minute of it. Because when you are with your friends time sure flies! Important discussions took place at the door while screaming at each other to be heard over the roar of the train. We figured out the signaling patterns, knew exactly the bends where the train lurched outwards. I still remember, Uddhav trying to figure out the name of the long distance trains by timing and we teasing him to no end.
Things have changed now. I still travel by the local everyday, but alone. Consultancy sure takes the joy out of your life. The other three are in the US, trying to make something out of their lives too. The struggle continues, in a different way. But this Sunday evening while I stood at the edge of the door, I could hear our voices echoing in the very same compartment. In many of these locals, our voices would be hidden somewhere, waiting to come out and greet us the day we all travel the same way. If at all. But the echoes will never die, every time I’ll hold that door handle, the smile will cross my face. Don’t worry Mr. Passenger, all is fine in the locals.