As we say, “Everything has to happen for the first time”. The experience of first timers stays in our memory forever. It was 8.00 a.m. as she rushed out from her house. She knew she was late, late for the first day of her job. It was the start of her new life and the end of the golden days of her college life. She was about to enter in the corporate world ‘The Unknown world”. That day she was doing many things for the first time, going for her first job, travelling to different city for the first time, travelling in local train for the first time, facing first time the audacity of auto drivers to deny the passenger for the ride. So there she was nervously waiting on platform for her local train to arrive.
Prior to this, she had heard too many stories about how crowded Mumbai local trains were but today she was witnessing it. These stories were running up and down in her mind each passing minute. With every passing minute, people on the platform increased. With increasing count of passengers, her heart beat also increased. Her parents warned her to stay on platform if unable to board local train. Their advice reminded her of the safety while travelling in Mumbai local train. They always say, “Remember, Safety First. Somebody is waiting for you at home.” As a good daughter she agreed to whatever they said but the ground reality was different. Just like there is a huge difference between theoretical and practical examinations. You can suggest guidelines on how to board a local train but you cannot board a local train following those guidelines.
It was her first time to experience Mumbai local train. She was recalling her parent’s advice and suggestions on a loop when she heard honking of local train as it arrived at the platform. Everyone around her was alert now. They took their positions to enter in local train. Everyone standing there had their own strategy to board a local train. There is no proper queue system to enter in Mumbai local train. One has to push themselves in and out to board or de-board the local train. She stood there with no strategy. She stood there blank. Suddenly she remembered the advice of her first cousin sister on how to board a Mumbai local train effortlessly. It was long back when she was narrating her experience in Mumbai local train.
She stood there all set to move along with the flow of the crowd. The trick was to do nothing and flow in the direction of the crowd. Efforts to put you in the local train will be done by the crowd. They will push you in so that they too can board the local train after you. As the local compartment was nearing, she felt her heartbeat increasing. With a loud thud sound of her heartbeats, she knew she had to do this. She has chosen this and cannot back out now. Slowly train speed reduced and women jumped into the moving train. One after the other, 1,2,3 and then the whole crowd covered the door just trying to enter in it. She was one of them. Finally the trick was successful and she got into the train because of the efforts of the crowd that pushed her in. She was amazed assuming it was her efforts but later she realized it was a team effort.
The struggle just began after she entered in the local train, she kept on circling as and when women pushed her aside to get their way in the train. An unknown hand pulled her to one side of the door and saved from the human cyclone. At that moment that lady seemed to be her angel who pulled her out from cyclone and guided her on how to board and de-board the Mumbai local trains.
“Faith in humanity restored”
That was her first experience of everything that happened in her life for the first time. She didn’t give up. The matter of the fact was that every day made me strong and pushed her towards her goal. She learned many things every day. Ten years of local train travelling transformed a sweet little Chhaya, mostly quiet and shy girl into altogether a different person. This upgraded version of Chhaya now knew how to board and de-board a local train within a fraction of second. This Chhaya 2.0 knew every corner of the new city she travelled for work. This Chhaya 2.0 did not take the tantrums of auto drivers or cab drivers anymore. Chhaya 2.0 was fighting and surviving in that metropolitan city called as “Mumbai – City of dreams”
Chhaya 2.0 travelled every day and night fulfilling her dream to succeed. Chhaya 2.0 was no longer a shy girl standing in the corner. She transformed into bold and beautiful girl that stood out in the crowd that makes an impact on people’s mind. She knew the value of time and also knew that time is money. Every single minute is a waste if not utilised properly. City of dreams transformed her from a teenage girl to an achiever and a woman full of dreams. Mumbai is also known as ‘City that never sleeps” so was she.
After ten years of hustle, one day she saw her older version in front of her. She was struggling to find her way to enter in local train. There she was circling in the human cyclone as more and more women entered in the compartment. In those two minutes she was not able to stand still or move to a proper place to stand and breathe. Train honked that brought Chhaya 2.0 back to reality from her flashback of local train travelling. She immediately stretched her hand to guide her to a safe place to stand. Chhaya 2.0 saw younger Chhaya heaving a sigh of relief. History repeated itself.
“Faith in humanity restored once again”
Next day she stood at the platform. Train arrival announcement was made. Everyone got alerted and ready to hop in as soon as local train was about to halt. Everything changed in these ten years, except for one thing. The loud thud of her heartbeats never stopped as she watches train arriving at the platform. The local train compartment was nearing and she was all set to step in first, leaving the rest of the crowd behind her. With the daily commute, one thing her family was assured that whatever be the situation, Chhaya 2.0 will return home safe and sound.