Travelling by local trains is an inescapable part of being a Mumbaiyya. Any other means of transportation would make us a lot later than we already are everyday. So aamchi locals zindabad.
That aside, it is unarguably the cheapest mode of transport the city has to offer and might I daresay, one of the cheapest modes of public transport all over the country.
But besides these very obvious plus points, I love our locals for all the accidental entertainment they offer us. I’ve been a regular commuter of our local trains for the last four years and this is a sort of a collection of the most ‘memorable’ (mostly unwelcome) conversations I’ve had with my fellow commuters in this time period.
The Tale of the Mysterious Apple I-Pod!
Dateline – Mid 2005.
The Scene: Your’s truly and a friend are traveling to college. My friend had a new I-Pod shuffle (something which was not common at all in our city back then),which his dad brought for him from the USA. Seated around us were a bunch of middle-aged men (the stock-broker, jewelery/diamond merchant types), who were trying to decipher what was exactly the gadget my friend possessed. My friend and I were used to these curious stares because as I mentioned earlier, an I-Pod wasn’t something one would see as frequently as one does today back then. Nothing new, we figured. But we were wrong, these men were about the raise the bar as we would soon find out.
When curiosity got the better of our fellow passengers, one of them finally decided to satiate his curiosity and ask us what it was, while his companions huddled around us and attentively listened.
The questioning fellow shall be referred to as QF while my friend as F.
QF: Excuse me bhaisahab, what is this? Maane Yeh kya hai?
F: (Looks at me and mumbles here’s another one, then turns to QF and simply says): Apple I-Pod.
At this point QF’s companions get all the more confused. Choruses of “Su Chhe” are aimed at QF by them. QF quietens them and asks once again.
QF: Arrey, you know what, I couldn’t hear you barabar se. Noise and all na. Aapne kya bataya?
F: I-Pod hai yeh.
F(Very slowly): Apple I-Pod.
QF: Us se kya hota hai? (What is it used for?)
F: Music player hai.
QF: To fir, why did you say Apple? Oh you were joking haan! Funny, funny very funny (QF and companions chuckle confusedly). So that means, yeh music player nahi hai na?
F (Sarcastically): Nahi, it’s not a music player.
QF: Accha, then tell us what it is?
At this point I decide to have a little fun with them.
Me: Hearing aid hai bhaisaahab.
QF: Oh accha accha.
(Companions say ‘Oohhhh’ in chorus)
QF: But then, how come both of you have ek ek kaan ka?Machine ek hi hai. (How is it that both of you have one ear-piece each. There’s just one machine.)
Me (Loudly): Whaaaaaaaat?
QF (Gestures wildly): Ek….one machine….do kaan ka(earphones)…..kaise….how?
F& Me (Together): Whaaaaaat?
QF: Ohh accha accha, battery down?
F& Me nod vigorously.
My Encounter With an Apple Representative!
Dateline: A more recent story December 2007
Scene: Yours truly is waiting at a platform bench for a friend listening to own I-pod shuffle (which he ‘borrowed’ from his brother, which sadly has no novelty value whatsoever today). A man, who looks like he is not a local, has been standing next to the bench for quite some time, waiting for a seat to open up with little success. In order to kill his boredom, he decides that conversing with a guy who is obviously disinterested in mingling with the others would be a great idea.
Me : (No response).
Man (a little louder): Hello…..excuse me….boss…bhaisaahab. (Finally gets smarter and taps me on the shoulder).
Man: Will this train go to Churchgate?
Me: No this train is coming from Churchgate and will go to Borivali, you need to go to the other platform.
Man: Nahi nahi, I don’t have to go to Churchgate, it’s okay.
I was about to put my ear-phones back on and resume listening to music when he deftly sneaked another question in.
Man: Boss….what is that there? (points ahead to something).
Man: That thing there….(points towards a tree).
Me: Uhh….a tree…
Man: Yes I know….but what tree is it?
Me: I…don’t know!
Man: I think it’s an apple tree.
Me: Okay then…
Man: Do you think so?
Me: I dont really know.
Man: But look at those red things, they look like apples to me.
Me: Yeah I guess so.
Man: Actually I can’t really tell if they are apples or not, but it does look like an apple tree, na?
Me: I don’t know what an apple tree looks like, bhaisaahab.
Man (Shocked): Kya? How can you not know what an apple tree looks like? They’re everywhere!
Me: Really now?……And where exactly can you see them?
Man: Everywhere……in Delhi…..you haven’t been to Delhi?
Man: But how come?
Me: On second thoughts, maybe it is an apple tree…..Oh look (points to the right)….there’s a vacant seat there.
Man: Oh…thank you, thank you!