Through my travels to different countries I’ve found that riding local transportation brings the most interesting experiences and a great way to absorb the culture. However, the local trains in Mumbai are definitely in a league of it’s own.
We started our day in Nahur station. Here there is only two automated ticketing machines which were virtually abandoned as most locals resorted to using the traditional ticket queues to purchase tickets. A smart card for the automated machines only costed 100 rupees yet the locals didn’t seem to be bothered.
Waiting for tickets was my first indication of the mass volume of people using this system. Tickets were cheap, a ticket to the furthest destination only costing about 20 rupees (about $0.36 CAD). Talk about a bargain!
The platforms seemed fairly normal as people quietly waited for the next train. As other trains passed by you could see people hanging outside of the car doors, seemingly riding proudly on the outside… Interesting… So how do we board?
All the train car doors are left open with no automated sliding doors. The trains stop for about 15 seconds and in that time the mass exodus and entry of people work in an chaotic but elegant dance.
Our first train approached and Kiran and I quickly ran to the closest cart. The entry to the door was immediately hoarded with 20-30 people and without trying to risk our lives we decided to wait for the next train.
I thought to myself.. Wow I’m going to have to actually jump and fight to get on this semi moving train..
Next train..The next train pulls in and our hearts elevated and we quickly run to the next open cart. Luckily for us this time the cart isn’t as packed and we get on.
The cart is small, all metal with a few fans at top to make the trip more pleasant. At first I think this isn’t so bad.. Then as each station pulls up hoards of people cram into the cart. Some literally pulling and lunging themselves onto the metallic beasts. The novelty wears off quite quick.
Here is a shot of the handle bars just covered with hands.
What amazed me was the politeness of everyone aboard. It’s easy to forget that millions of people ride this on a daily basis. People would pull large bags of material and even I saw one man with a metal cart! Everyone would move aside slowly and the shimmy would happen so everyone got to where they needed. How people got off the train at the right stop baffled me as well. Almost instinctively they knew which station and whether or not the 30 people in front of the door was also exiting.
Kiran inside the mix.
Grasping for support.
A station before ours everyone got off and it was like seeing cattle pushed out of the gates. An impressive site, 100 people dismounting in a matter of 15 seconds.
Kiran relaxing after the masses left a station before CST.
If you haven’t Youtubed it already I suggest you do. Mumbai local trains. I’ll amend some crazy videos I’ve seen. Riding the train has never been so exhilarating.