Monday, July 13, 2009

Good Times on the Ladies Special

Earlier today I was heading back to Bandra, where I live, from Grant Road in South Mumbai. Since it is always faster I went to the Grant Road train station to take the train back to Bandra. As I waited for the train, I realized that there were a lot of women on the platform, more then usual, and realized that the next train coming was the "Ladies Special" a train consisting of only "Ladies Only" cars. This was good news because that meant that the train would be less crowded, and I could get on to any car, instead of one of the three ladies only cars in a normal train. I got on the train and found a seat. It began to rain harder, and the women in the car began to close the windows of the train. If you have never been on a Mumbai commuter train, there is no AC so the windows are open, although there is a grate there, so to stay dry, the plastic/glass window has to be pulled down from its open position. Most of the windows closed but the one in the isle I was sitting it did not. About 4 women sitting closer to the window tried to close it to no avail. So everyone sat there getting a little wet. At one stop a bunch of the women got off the train and I moved over to the seat next to the window. One of the women said, you will get wet, but I said its only water. I was going home anyway so I did not care if I got wet. In the monsoon you always get wet, so once you are okay with that fact, it does not matter. But I thought I would give closing the window one more shot. So I pinched the locks together on either side of the window, and it slid down, pretty easily, the window closed! I looked at the women sitting across from me rather surprised, and she clapped and said oh good job, and the women next to me touched my arm, and murmured in appreciation. All the other women in the isle smiled and said I must have good luck with windows. They all looked so happy and greatful. I smiled back. The whole incident made me feel so happy and illustrates some of my favorite things about Bombay: the insane number of people in this city, the fact that they generally get along, and the totally crazy (somewhat dangerous) train system that links so many people together and allows you to meet the most amazing people (in this case women) who just make your day better. In a city of so much poverty and hardship, the little things like closing a train window, or giving someone you seat make it a little better for everyone.

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