Mumbai Local – Stories From The Lifeline Of Mumbai. A series of short stories that explores the  life of a citizen in a local train. Stories, about relationships, about culture and about the undying spirit of the people, just like the lifeline of Mumbai itself. Some real, some experiences, some fictional and many mere an observation. The many a faces, that seem strangers, draw me close to them. Some ambitious minds, some deceived, some real, some fake. Some young, some old, some hot, some cold like stone. I am one among them, and that’s what draws me more close to them. That’s what draws me towards their face, because every face has a story to tell.

Vashi: 3rd March 2014: Based on a TRUE Incident. 

Monday mornings usually begin on a lazy note; tired legs and a weak body, a terrible hangover that  makes it quite difficult for many to get their routine back on track. And just like the weekend hangover, Mumbai’s local trains (especially on the harbour line) have a serious starting trouble on a Monday mornings as well.

It just means that there is more crowd than the usual and the moment the 8:56 Belapur train leaves, people are all set in their half-sleep to fight it out and grab a seat in the 9:15 Vashi-CST Local.

And today was just another of those lazy Monday’s and the same story of the crowds battling hard to fight a seat. While on most occasions, I have been one among them, today, I chose to stand near the side exit of the footboard. By the time it was 9:15 and the train slowly made its way from the station, the first class compartment was packed to the brim.

Midway between the Vashi Bridge amidst all the sweat and rants of the commuters, a man appeared from nowhere leaving all quite stunned. He was none other than Mr. TC!

All these days me and a fellow passenger were discussing about the crowds getting heavier and heavier by each passing day. He even pointed out the fact that there is a possibility that so many passengers may be travelling without a ticket, or having a second class ticket and boarding the first class, just for the sake of standing a little comfortably.

I wondered that would men, so decently dressed, sophisticated and well read do like this? And well, today was the day when I truly got a reality check.

The TC was doing his job (pretty well I must say, considering the crowd) of checking tickets and railway passes, looking for a ‘bakra’ to lighten up his Monday and asked a man for his ticket.

The man, in his mid forties, salt-pepper haired, wearing a peach Allen Solley Shirt (yes I noticed the label too!) and Brown Raymond trousers, removed the ticket from his wallet and showed it to the TC. Alas, it was a second-class ticket. When the TC asked him to pay a fine of Rs. 340, he initially refused but after much hesitation and argument paid the fine. He argued but made an innocent face saying he wasn’t aware that it was a first-class compartment. It’s hard to believe a decent, educated man, behaving so cheap!

What was even more irritating was the fact that when the TC asked him politely, ‘Aapko kahaan jaana hai’, that man had the audacity to reply him back, ‘Kyun aapne ticket nahi dekha kya? Aapka kaam aisa hai?’. The TC had no words, but simply walked off and continued checking other passenger’s tickets.

I probably remember seeing the man on a regular basis travelling in the first-class. But his attitude, arrogance and etiquette today, was worst than a third-class. What bothered me even more during the day was that he randomly calls and asks the TC to check another passenger’s ticket, pointing at him and going by his appearance. He said, ‘Unka ticket check karo, who shayad first-class ke passenger nahi hai!’

A man so well-read, decently dressed, was talking such cheap rubbish. We see so many less privileged people, having a second-class ticket, boarding the first-class of a train compartment by mistake.

But for him, the rich hypocrite Indian, it is not a big deal. This is today’s AAM Aadmi that we are seeing. Forget offering a seat in the train, he is hell-bent on seeing that a fellow standing passenger doesn’t disturb the ironing on the crease of his shirt. He gets angry when a small nudge from behind, spoils his Whats App conversation on his iPhone. He gets arrogant and rude when you ask him to go a little ahead, so that you can adjust your bag. And well if that was not enough, he will simply forget what happened between him and the TC, and smilingly get down at Kurla station, only to repeat his cheap and dirty act, in the next local to office!

Well he is our one and only – The Rich Hypocrite Indian!