Tuesday, September 20, 2011

City Bites - First Class Crap

This blog got featured in Mumbai DNA 'Around the Blog' on page 6, 17th Oct 2011.

After very many ages, I have had the misfortune to return travelling in Mumbai Suburban trains. For those fortunate enough to have not seen what the popularly known as local trains look like, by and large, they are nothing more than 12 massive ugly red and yellow garbage tins put together, with a few doors and windows, on rails with people infested during most hours. And this of course is the best possible treatment for India’s financial capital and highest tax paying city.

There are three routes; Western – which runs Churchgate to the Western suburb of Borivali and beyond; Central – which runs from CST to the Central suburb of Mulund and beyond; and finally harbour that runs from CST along the docks to Mankhurd and beyond. Society has always seen divides and the Suburban trains are no exception. The Western lines have now managed quite a few rather sophisticated and swanky trains, which the Central line is struggling with and the Harbour line has barely managed. 

Coming back to my misfortune; after debating whether there are more viruses/flies/mosquitoes and like in Mumbai or more people (and I think the later wins), I went ahead with a ‘First Class’ monthly pass. Now, apart from the compartment for ladies and those with special needs, the local trains have ‘First’ and ‘Second’ class. So, what do you get for a First class upgrade? State-of-the-art Shape-of-the-arse no-more-foam cushioned seats, only three people sit on a 3-foot long seat instead of 4 people, possible less infestation and a possible hint of a vague cologne amongst hundreds of perspiring bodies. Sure, you don’t want to know what goes on in the other Second class!

A view of the interiors of the First Class compartment in a Mumbai Suburban Train. For more pictures of Mumbai, click here

So yeah, I entered one such train on the severely step Harbour route and I am faced with a great travesty of recent times. After having paid 3.5 times the cost of a Second class season ticket, I was faced with even more sagging seats and backrests that what I ever imagined and a compartment that desperately needed to be sanitised; may be garbage trucks abroad are cleaner. 

You'll now understand why they need to be sanitised. For more pictures of India, click here.

There was a joke doing the rounds when I was a child – A foreign national touring Mumbai was caught by a ticket checker in a First class compartment with a second class ticket. The TC told him he did not have a valid ticket and hence he would need to pay a fine. The tourist replied that his ticket is valid indeed because the source and destination stations are correct. To which the TC replied, ‘That is correct, but having bought a Second class ticket, you’re in a compartment which is First class.’ The tourist jumped off and exclaimed, ‘You call this First Class?’ And yeah, the TC hung his head low, and walked off!

I wish we Mumbaikars can slap off the same statement!

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  1. Rohit, any system which is state owned will be like that. Thankfully Delhi Metro is good. I have traveled in locals trains but was in Mumbai for a short time, I enjoyed the city and everything related to it. For regular users, it's pathetic. I wonder how they say Mumbai will become Shanghai...

  2. Saru, I havent travelled in the Delhi Metro, but yes, heard good stories about them. The trains still are the best way to move quickly in Mumbai, no doubt. And there is little they can do in terms of managing the crowds apart from getting 15-car locals all across during peak hours. But regular maintenance is something they shouldn't shy from.

    Some the trains are so bad that they have a vertical displacement of 1/2 a foot - imagine that happening on flat tracks; feels worse than the roads!

    As far as becoming Shanghai goes (and the projected target is nine years from now in 20202), with all the corruption the only way we get there is by having Chinese stalls at every corner. Seriously!

  3. That is one reason why I wouldn't want to be in Mumbai :| The only place I am travelling through transport is London and I preferred autos/my two wheeler in Bangalore. Rohit, you must have been fuming when you blogged :)

  4. Public Transport :( not transport

  5. hahaha! yes chintan; not really fuming but annoyed!


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