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Mumbai Local : Lifeline Of The Working Women Of The City

Posted: December 7, 2019

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When you are travelling by a local train in Mumbai, it doesn’t matter when you are the VP of a corporate entity or the Chairman of a multinational company or a salesgirl in a mall, they all stand together next each other, rubbing shoulders, supporting each other and jostling for that tiny patch of space to fit in your two feet. You may be in high heeled shoes with straightened hair and suited and booted or in a simple salwar kameez or a very non-descript saree. They pull up each others’ trailing dupattas and loose bags which are just about to fall.

The ones who are sitting hold heavy bags for the standing and even offer their seats to the weary and bone tired.
Sisterhood is what I would call it!

Two friends even share two ends of headphones as the journey progresses ahead.

They share snippets of the joyous moments n tricky moments from the workplace.

Some try to catch a wink before the pile of work waiting at home welcomes them to the second role of the day.

Mothers with small infants stand while someone else holds the infant for them.

As the night moves on, the handles above dangle as they are finally free for movement.

Those catching a wink are gently woken up from their catnap by their neighbours.

The burka-clad ladies sweat and perspire under their hijab as the makeup so carefully applied threatens to leak. A middle-aged burka-clad lady holds the gift so precariously close to her chest. The thick golden bangle on her chubby arm peeks out for some fresh air. A chubby little finger of the cute little baby extends out in friendship to the person next to his mother.

Then there are the brave ones who stand at the door to eat the ‘hawa’ literally, to feel the breeze caress your cheek not knowing what could be hurled at you from the film of darkness outside.

The fisherwoman wakes up from her deep slumber and gently pulls out fish basket. She is done for the day and she slowly massages her aching limbs.
As the train compartment slowly gets less crowded the breeze passing through assumes a thicker ferociousness.
You see and hear them all selling their wares.
The eating wala
The aam papad wala
The sockswala
The keychains wala
The samosa wala.
Going back, it was assumed to be an empty starting train which soon filled up before one could count to ten. Soon they fish out their cellphones to text, call or message their loved ones that they are in their way home.

Whoever said that women are generally home by evening? No way!

There are so many of them, young and old, well dressed and some in tatters too. Each glad to be getting a space to rest for that probably short or long journey. This train was destined to reach Khopoli, a good two-hour-long journey. Just as they would get fresh, and clear the dinner tables and rest a while, the alarm would rudely wake them up from a weary not yet rested and refreshed sleep.

They move on each day.
The day moves to weeks and months and years.
The struggle remains the same.
They don’t give up
They don’t tire.
They don’t complain…
It’s a journey worth the while and a quick one too from Thane to now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
I still prefer saying VT…
Do you?

Image via Youtube

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