The first train in India, built by the British, ran between Bori Bunder (today's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane in April, 1853. The journey also marked the birth of the Mumbai Suburban Railway offshoot. Hundred and sixty three years later, with so much experience tucked under her rusty wheels, the Mumbai Local has seen India's financial capital grow like no other. Imagine what would happen if she started speaking one fine day? What would she try to tell us? What life-lessons would she be willing to share?
Listen up. Here's what (I think) the wise chug-chug gaadi wants you to know.
1. Time and Locals wait for no one: Locals have changed the Mumbaikar's outlook on punctuality in a big way. It's not uncommon to hear him say, "Need to be at the station at 8:58am sharp!" I am the Twitter of time micro-management for a busy Mumbaikar.
2. There is enough space in a Local for a person's need, but not greed: You will get to stand. You may even get to sit. But you need to be extremely lucky or travel first class to spread your limbs or sleep on my seats.
3. For those who need it badly, a Local is just around the corner: Locals are dependability personified. Even if one or more modes of transport are on strike, I am always there, standing humbly on the platform, to make sure that you reach home safe and on time.
4. The best things in life always cost less: Like paani-puri. Or an ice-cream cone. Or a Local ticket.
5. But the things you get for free have no value to you: Reflect a bit on that the next time you're tempted to travel ticketless.
6. Late to bed, and early to rise, makes one Local-wise: You may be a party animal going for late-night revelry. Or a hard-working person going to office early morning. Odd hours mean Local hours!
7. The Local must go on: Sun, rain, cold, drought, floods or frost cannot deter a Local--I am the greatest show of humanity in Mumbai. The city is incomplete without me, and I plan to be there for it as long as I can.
8. 7.5 Million Daily Ridership. 2,342 Trains. 129 Stations. One Suburban Rail Network: What an idea Sirjee!
9. A Local in hand is worth two in the bush: You'd be better off boarding a mildly packed Local, than waiting for the next one just because you think it will be even less packed. This is especially true for Sundays and for stations without Fast Local stoppage.
10. Once a Local traveller, always a Local traveller: Whether it's a rich businessman, a middle-class housewife, a construction worker, a disabled person, an IT guy, or the humble Dabbawala; seasoned Mumbaikars know every suburban railway station by heart. And these die-hard loyalists always have a special place in their heart for the good ol' Local.
11. Better late than never: When a Local is packed to the brim, it indirectly flashes a clear sign--don't board me, wait for the next one. Understanding this and caring for your life is way better than hanging near the doors and risking it.
12. On rooftops, between compartments, and pulling stunts is no way to travel through Locals, son: There have been umpteen cases throughout history of people getting electrocuted to death, their bodies charred beyond recognition. Others have broken their limbs caused by slipping and falling off; other things have happened too. I fail to comprehend just why you do it! Please take responsibility for your actions and value your life while travelling.
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