Sunday morning I questioned my sense of adventure that day. Was it registering on the low end, meaning maybe I’d just take in a movie? Or was I feeling bold, bold enough to navigate the local train system by myself in order to get out of dodge (aka South Mumbai) for a bit? Much like taking a taxi and selecting my own lunch, riding the trains – alone, no less – was something I’ve been sheltered from since the beginning.
(Weekend morning routine - coffee and Skype.)
One extra sip of coffee sludge pushed me into feeling bold and/or bored enough to toss myself into the Mumbai local rail system. I’ve only just returned to India and it probably sounds ludicrous when I tell you I was bored but let’s be real, how many of you do touristy things every single weekend when you’re home? Not a one of you and me neither. Because this is “home” for me right now, I am trying to find ways to feel like I have a normal weekend that isn’t necessarily full of cultural, mind-expanding excursions. This meant I needed to do something with a purpose beyond “seeing stuff.” What could I do? Shopping. Like, running errands rather than souvenir hunting.
But let’s stop for a second here. Eight rupees for a round trip ticket on Mumbai’s more expansive equivalent of the New York subway. Eight rupees. Sixteen cents! And I thought my $1.60 was still a deal!
Sweet lawd was it hot in the train. Hotter than the air outside. We hadn’t even reached our first stop and I was sweating through my shirt. Sitting in this rotisserie was not an option. Open doors, here I come. People hang out the train doors while zooming through the city, not because the operator forgot to push the “close” button but because the doors always stay open. Open doors allow you to jump on and off while still in motion, to pack five more bodies in where doors would normally sit, to get fresh air in an otherwise stifling box. Once I stopped thinking about the millions of lawsuits this would bring about in the US (thanks to having parents in risk management and law), I held on to the railing and poked my head outside. Now I get why Hudgins and Charlotte do this on every car ride. You see so much more and it feels comparatively great! My train ride lasted about fifteen minutes. We pulled into Lower Parel and I disembarked only after the train had come to a complete stop. You best be ready to jump at that exact moment because the train stays still for all of about three seconds. I can’t imagine doing this during rush hour where it’s not unusual for riders to run when getting on and off the train.Before the train had even pulled away people were slipping down the platform sides to cross the tracks and to bypass the designated pedestrian walks. It looked like someone had dumped a jar of marbles that then scattered everywhere. Again, lawsuits left and right. I read this morning in the paper that an average of six bodies are found on the Mumbai railroads every day. No surprise given how little control there is on and around the tracks. I stayed back to snap some pictures. (The Mumbai S Trifecta - shack, scaffolding, skyscraper.)
(Looking south from the pedestrian cross over.)
(Slum next to the train station.)
One or two wrong turns later I found myself literally melting at the mall’s front door. The metal detection lady didn’t even bother waving the wand over me. I think I had grossed her out by my appearance and that’s saying something, folks, because the mall is surrounded by slums. Once I got over my embarrassment I decided my disheveled appearance worked to my advantage. Very few shopkeepers approached me – hooray! Shopping in solitude is a rare accomplishment in this service-focused city.(On the way to the mall.)