Tale of 2 cities and 2 trains
"2951 Dn Mumbai Delhi Rajdhani Express platform number teen par se char baj ke pach pan minute par ravane hone ki sambhavna (!!) hai" ... cried the electronically recorded voice from a loudspeaker which was fighting with other acoustic waves of a huge TV crying out that sonia had declined to be the PM. People of all shapes and sizes and all the possible shapes & sizes a body (while lying down) could make were watching the TV. Its always been fabulous observing people on these railway terminals, gathered for a moment; destined to part forever.
The other exiting part was to get up close and personal with rajdhani express, the one time pride of biggest employer in the world, indian railways. And there she came like a lady in red, slowly. The new bogies made me feel that yes this is one great looking train you can find in india .. perfect from outside .. until i went inside. it was a complete disappointment. The door was narrower than normal, so was the gangway, the door didnt open fully, . some lights were not working. the only god thing was that it had soft cushion tiers, reading light, working AC and really clean. But it missed the smell and dead silence of a normal non AC train. the voices inside them are loud and it is so dead that u dont feel this thing will ever move. This is the essence of starting a train journey in india.
Anyways as the train left everyone including the guard and pantry guys eye locked to see if some one would wave them a goodbye. just anyone. for a sec they wanted to be connected with someone.
The train had left the platform.
With hours to kill i went to do some photography shopping in town (VT/CST and Churchgate). They still fascinate me because everything good and famous and historical is just 5 to 10 mins apart. There are lots of open spaces, the famous zebra crossing which defines mumbai's lifestyle. Those historical buildings, their architecture, the lion statues, the weathercock. The old british style buildings, the buzz, the hurry. I looked like a newcomer as i gazed and relived those places.
Peeking inside the GPO (General Post Office) was creepy. The unpainted walls, the darkness, the lifelessness depicted perfectly how i use snail mail today. Things have changed big time for my kind of generation.
Roaming here are there i caught some never before seen things like a coin seller bragging a huge 50RS coin from 1970s, people cleaning a garbage truck, a money change machine and women at railway ticket counters. It was all new to me as it had been long since i wandered in the heart of mumbai.
As i went back to catch my train i had to wade in a huge crowd which had gathered around the huge TV watching the various MP's trying to coax sonia to become the PM. Sonia had made life rough bowling her "doosra". Polictics and Cricket remained the greatest pastimes of ordinary indians.
Then came the other pastime, the local train journey. As expected there was entertainment as a drunkard entered and started narrating his "movie script". "AAp hamare GODi mein hai" was his film title. As always the tired but tolerant passengers had a good time teasing the poor fellow.
So this one day office leave after 8 whole months went perfectly as after a long time i felt like another common man living another common life.