Monday, September 27, 2010

Another side of Mumbai

I am seriously considering to rename my blog to Mumbai Blog. I write so much about this city. The reason is simple. This city has never ever failed to amuse me. Each single day, I experience something new. Each time I step out, I spot something new, lively, beautiful, irritating, thought provoking, annoying but at the end of the day when I ponder about those events, I always find them amusing.

And I have already boasted a lot about my teaching, so I will not repeat that yet again. But I need to mention this - I stay in the suburban part of Mumbai and I have to go to South Mumbai to teach. It is approximately an hour long journey. I travel by Mumbai lifeline - local trains. Now, if you live in Mumbai or you have ever visited the city, and travelled by the local train, then you will agree with me when I say that it is not an easy feat to travel by one especially if you are new in Mumbai.

In my case, I have always been fond of South Mumbai or town as we call it here. When I shifted to Mumbai in 1998, my hostel was at CST (VT then) and college at Churchgate. After a year, my parents shifted to Mumbai permanently and I moved in with them in the suburban part of Mumbai. But my heart was still at town. I completed my graduation and post graduation from Sydenham college and Law from KC law. All these years, I travelled from Suburb to Town by the local trains. First class, second class and general compartments - I have experienced all even during peak hours (and trust me, it requires guts to travel by general compartment at 6 pm!). Trains are so crowded that you cannot even move an inch from first stop to the last stop. Still, people keep getting in on each station, crushing you even more, fighting and abusing at those stamping their feet or maybe just for fun.

Travelling after a gap of  three years was no different except for the fact that it was Sunday and trains were comparatively less crowded. Now, apart from the mad rush and crowd, another common site is the Vendors who sell various stuff in the compartments. These stuff include from a needle to comb, from hair clips to cosmetics, from bags to clothes, from mobile covers to railway time tables, from flowers to vegetables - anything and everything is available in the train compartment.

So many times, I have seen ladies selling such things for living even at the time of their pregnancy, or with an infant tied down to her back with the help of a piece of cloth, struggling to earn the bread to feed her child/children/family. 

But the worst thing is to see small children selling stuff like that. One side, we are talking about stopping child labour, passing various laws to prevent the same; but nothing helps. Still children have to work. Either those children are compelled to work or they do not have any other option but to work. 

I have spoken with many such children in past. But those stories I will share in a separate post. Here is another picture of children, school children enjoying some music on a mobile phone.

Some things have changed so much, while some things are still the same. Life goes on in Mumbai for all - for those who are deprived of education and those who travel from Virar to Malad to study in a Government school as they do not have money to take admission in private schools; carrying a mobile once in a while which is a great deal for them. And there are those children who are gifted a blackberry on their 8th birthday! Such is life!


  1. Very true! Mumbai is one fascinating city!!
    And the local trains... they give you an experience of a different kind altogether... so many sights, so many expressions, so many learnings and so many memories... :)
    This post took me down the memory lane!! :))

  2. Me firsttttttttt.

    anyway I like ur post. 2 months I also had some experience in the train journey. In our gang, only two boys and remaining are girls. that time , we are the protectors of that gals from the locals. From that time onwards, I know the problems in the trains. Its a great experience in my life.

  3. Nice and lively description of Mumbai. I have not visited Mumbai so far. Will do so on my next trip. A relative of ours is living in a place called Dombiville. He had to travel for more than an hour to go to his work. He would tell "stories" similar to your post. Keep writing about Mumbai. I would love to read.

  4. yes with u 100% on this..there's no city as charming and dynamic as our amchi mumbai..:)

  5. Not surprised. It is a country in itself.the population of the city of Bombay is the same as that of the continent of Australia!
    You can see any thing there.

  6. Mumbai is a charm. It can depress you or take you high. It can make you smile or cry. Blackberry on 8th birthday!!

    You gotta be kidding, but I know such things can happen in Mumbai. Heard a lot about Mumbai local from my mom. I was born there. She has tales to tell. I get fascinated each time she says something about the city.

  7. I could relate to each word of that post!

    tempted to leave a long comment here but exams round the cya


  8. mumbai indeed is a city of never ceases to make u smile... and i am glad its my land ,my birth place...its a place where i have spend most of my life with my loved ones...but even though i am in delhi..i miss this place a lot..i have lots of memories associated with it..

  9. I have visited Mumbai and stayed there for ten days but it was strictly a work related trip...was mostly inside the conference rooms.Would love to visit again and see it like you do --with your heart:)

    Luckily your train is not overcrowded like we see in news/tv.Those kids look cute.For some reason we don't see too many kids as vendors/beggars here in my city .But there was a time when almost every house had one child employed as a help--over a period of 15 yrs i have seen that trend fading away.Free education and mid day meals have really helped such kids(as i am told by the parents whenever i visit our village).

  10. You know , it makes me feel so good to see so much space free in the compartment. Memories of a few years ago, off being crushed at rush hour come rushing back. But there are diehard bhakts of the mumbai locals. If you ignore the crush, the sweat and the pushing, its the perfect and fastest way to travel.

    I once wrote about it "Train"ing for travel ...

  11. Its a world in its own in the train!

  12. All in a day's work. Images of life.

  13. the disparity can be heartbreaking in mumbai, and often it can be seen together.

    on kids selling. obviously no kid wants to do it, they are being forced into it. and its a pity that govt does nothing about it.

  14. All those who have lived in Bombay, must have experienced it.
    However,after looking at the small child selling merchandise, reminds me of a friend who ACTUALLY used to sell rubber bands and combs in Bombay locals some 30 yrs back is NOW a well established film producer(wont name him)and has a bungalow on Juhu beach.
    He still thinks local was very lucky for him as experienced real life.

  15. so true...and yet we cannot do anything about know with the money of a blackberry we can sponsor a kids year of education...maybe if we could only give that money away

  16. After reading your posts, I am becoming more and more desperate to visit Mumbai.. Let me see.. Is dec good for visiting Mumbai? I am still planning but really want to see Mumbai..
    As for kids working, if they dont work, they wont have anything to eat :( It's really sad to see them working :(

  17. Hey another blogger from Mumbai!! :D

    Don't you just love the city in spite of all the chaos and crowd?

    I have been a regular train commuter, and it is my favourite way to travel in the city so far.

    Agreed, there are some uncormortable instances, but every journey is a lesson and different experience.

    At the risk of being inappropriate during my first time here, I would like to share this link. I had written about the locals, sometime back, a totally different perspetive.

  18. Such indeed is life ! Things happen. Many things dont.

    Some trains arrive. Others derail. yet others are late !

    Such is the journey. Of life as well !

  19. two sides of a coin living together...
    the disparity is huge ... nice post teacher :)
    haven't been to Mumbai yet... definately in plans :)

  20. Amchi Mumbai is the ebst... The city always gives u sumthing new to ponder over... I so agree wiht u about the kids selling stuff in the local train... there's this kid i used to meet everyday in the train wen i was in coll who used to sell hair clips... the other i met him again..he was all grown up ,,he said he is study in the night coll but for a living he still continues to sell hair clips in the train..

    The kids are either forced to ...or have no other opttion but to do so for a living.

  21. This is prevailing not only in mumbai but also in chennai ,greatly portrait,loved the post..

  22. I have tried to leave a comment here earlier but the service was not available...will try again.

    Your post makes Mumbai vibrant and alive through your words. I have visited the city twice but being a typical Delhi person I found it overrated. No offence meant:-) But then again am not a Mumbaikar...anyway, it's good to read about the city...and to know it is a city loved by its inhabitanta. We Delhi walla complain too much about our city.

  23. I go out of Mumbai often and when I return I say " I am back home." That's Mumbai for me. Every facet and every moment here is enjoyable.
    Great post, Neha.

  24. Please read my reply to Geeta Mahesh's comment in my post. Thanks. Would like your views.

  25. I have traveled in Mumbai's local trains for about 7 years for my college and then job. It's an institution itself. Your posts remind me of all those days that I spent in Mumbai. No matter how dirty or crowded it is, it is still my dearest city :)

  26. Indeed! Such is life, Neha!! That was a beautiful post, could see how much you love Bombay!! Btw there is this blog called Mumbai Magic or something on those lines, do check it out sometime.