Sunday, 27 December 2015

The 'Local Train Syndrome (LTS)'

CASE 1: It was a bit unusual that 7:26 am train at Ulhasnagar was not filled much. It came from Khopoli, about 57 kms from Ulhasnagar. Since the crowd in the train was less, it seemed like X and his friend had boarded the 7:23 am train which came from Ambernath, just 3kms from Ulhasnagar. X recalls very clearly that they had missed 7:23 local as he arrived at the station late.

X and his friend always go together to work. They have a fixed schedule of boarding 7:23 local to Thane in the morning and meet again in the evening to board 5:50 pm local at Thane to way back home. X is a bit lazy and quite often misses the 7:23 local but his friend always waits for him and with no choice, both have to board the 7:26 local.

As X recalls, it was a bit unusual that 7:26 local was quite less crowded. Both were happy that getting down at Thane would be easier. Dombivli crossed and Thane was approaching. Both went forward to approach the door, to stand behind the co-passengers who were about to get down at Thane. A person in his late 20s was the immediate next person standing, Uncle 1.

Uncle 1 suffers from a minor case of the Local Train Syndrome (LTS)!

X: (calling Uncle 1) Aapko utarna hai Thane?

Uncle 1: (nods his head, making a bad face irritatingly) Haan, abhi time hai station aane mein.

After few more minutes, X: (to Uncle 1) Thoda aage jaiye, station aa raha hai.

Uncle 1: (angrily shouts) Arey haan be jaa aage, kabse dhaka de raha hai.
Surprisingly, X had not even touched Uncle 1.

X: (calmly) Subah subah bhadak kyun rahe ho yaar!

Both X and his friend got down at Thane successfully. Surprisingly, the number of people boarding the train from Thane was huge than usual. Mumbai local train, like Mumbai city; always surprise!

X’s friend: Ch****a, waat lag gayi hogi uski Thane pe!

X: Chhod na, pehle hi usko biwi ne pareshan kiya hua hai, tu aur gaali de raha hai. (Both shared a laugh)


CASE 2: Some other day! X and his friend were in 5:50 local coming back home. Vithalwadi station was crossed, their home Ulhasnagar was approaching. Both X and his friend woke up from their seat. They were behind a person who must be in his early 50s, Uncle 2.

Uncle 2 suffers from a slightly advanced case of the LTS.

X’s shoes touched the shoes of Uncle 2 while getting up from the seat. Uncle 2’s facial expressions conveyed his anger to X. Uncle 2’s shoes were shining, jet black shoes. X appreciated the well kept shoes, the shininess of the shoes in his mind; and gave an apologetic smile to Uncle 2. Uncle 2 reciprocated with a mild smile.

A lot of people get down at Ulhasnagar in the 5:50 local and one always gets a push from the men behind as the station approaches. X was exactly behind Uncle 2.

At Ulhasnagar station platform after getting down, Uncle 2: (angrily shouts to X) Kya pagal hai, itna dhaka deta hai!

X: (calmly) Mein aapko jaan bhuj ke kyun dhaka dunga, peeche se dhaka aa raha tha!

Uncle 2 had no answers, but he chose to stay at the platform. X turned closer to his friend. X’s friend had his back facing to Uncle 2 but X could see Uncle 2 still standing. X understood that Uncle 2 wanted to hear cuss words about him and get a chance to attack.

X’s friend: (to X) Be******d, ch****a aadmi…

X: (in low voice) Shhh… Whho hamare peeche hi hai!

Both X and his friend started talking some random stuff while X had his eyes on Uncle 2. Uncle 2 was still waiting for a chance having his full attention on X and his friend. Luckily, he did not hear X’s friend’s cuss remarks on him.

After a couple of minutes, Uncle 2 left with no success of getting an opportunity to attack.

X: (to his friend) Kaise kaise log hain yaar!


Life is not a video game where if you start playing bad, you can exit the game and start playing all over again. Life is a game which doesn’t stop and moreover it isn’t perfect. It’s mysterious!

People suffer from regrets, lost love, guilt, societal pressures, greed, jealousy, loneliness; and who knows what! Now narrow down the presence of these people in Mumbai local trains! About 4500 passengersget packed into 9-car local during peak hours which has a rated capacity of1700 passengers. About 14 to 16 passengers stand per square meter of the floorspace. So much overcrowding! Of course, it is not a surprise that you will find people suffering from the LTS.  



CASE 3: X recalls an incident which happened years ago. X got down at Kurla station from where he used to go to college. It was like any other busy morning where after much struggle, X successfully got down at Kurla station and saw this incident. Huge crowd surrounded a young thin boy and a person in his mid 60s, Uncle 3.

X tells that Uncle 3 was in the final stage of the LTS.

Both young boy and Uncle 3 got down at Kurla from second class compartment adjacent to the first class compartment from which X got down. The young boy was thin enough for the wind to blow him off. His facial expressions and body language conveyed that he was the sort of a person abused on everyday basis. X looked from a distance that Uncle 3 was shouting constantly at the young boy and the crowd was enjoying as if they were witnessing fireworks show on a Diwali night. All of a sudden, Uncle 3 gave a tight slap to the young boy and continued his yelling. As expected from the young boy, he didn’t move an inch and took all the humiliation till the show completed.

The angry old man Uncle 3 was in serious trouble says X. Uncle 3 was fighting an invisible ghost and not the young boy. The invisible ghost that represented his own life! Uncle 3 must be fighting at least one person a day. That gave him satisfaction, contentment as a reward to stay in the web of life. Uncle 3 had fallen in an infinite depth of rowdiness and he will stay there for his entire life perhaps.

X recalls the Joker. The Joker is actually a hero. The Joker has given some wonderful satirical wisdom quotes.

Joker: Madness, as you know is like gravity! All it takes is a little push.



CASE 4: Coming back to present age! It was only a few days ago, X and his friend were travelling to Thane in 7:26 local. X very modestly tells me, “Hey, this time I was not late. It was my friend!”

Both X and his friend made some space for themselves while the train was approaching the next station Vithalwadi. A person in his mid 40s entered the local and stood aside X. He is Uncle 4.

Uncle 4 was very much busy in his mobile phone and was using his both hands involved in mobile, maybe for typing. Hence, he was not taking the support of the hanger in the train.

The train was speeding forward approaching one station after the other. When the train took a sudden break while moving in fast speed, Uncle 4 accidently leaned over X. Realizing this, Uncle 4 instantly took the support of the hanger and avoided further leaning. X too, saved himself from falling by tightening his hold over the hanger. X expressed his discomfort by making a slight irritating tone but without uttering a word.

After a few more minutes, the same thing happened. The speeding train took a sudden break. Uncle 4, much engaged in his mobile again leaned on X. This time, the anger got over X.

X: (irritatingly to Uncle 4) Arey kya kar rahe ho yaar!

Uncle 4: (paused for a second) sorry dear!

X: (instantly came out of his mouth) It’s ok!

X ponders, ‘Did I make a mistake?.. No! Such small things happen!’

X didn’t know what happens in the life of Uncle 4 days in, days out! Uncle 4 didn’t know what happens in the life of X days in, days out! But everything was handled well. Few words and everything sorted!

On this incident, X recalled the Joker again.

Joker: Why so serious?


Closing note:
Be patient and understanding. Life is too short to be vengeful or malicious. (-Phillips Brooks)

By the way, X told me to wish you all a very Happy 2016!