Friends, today I’ll try to give you a glimpse of the local train of Kolkata, specifically a ladies compartment. Only the one who have a first hand experience of traveling in it, can agree with me that it’s indeed a unique one. We all know that these local trains are the lifeline, connecting the suburbs to the main city, as well as, means of livelihood to the countless stream of hawkers plying their wares through it.
Due to stalling of train service owing to pandemic, I just shudder to imagine the plight of women, who used to come daily, to the main city, working as maids, care givers, besides the professionals though the later category can avail WFH facility. All those hawkers have also been rendered jobless. Anyway, we can only pray for their well-being.
The topic on hand, is the scenario inside a ladies compartment. If the timing of travel coincide with the peak hour then only the skilled maneuvering and appropriate body posture could save one from inevitable physical harm. The stations are mostly between 5 to 10 minutes apart. In each of them, a sea of people rush in or get off. If not alert, there is a fair chance of getting mauled.
But surprisingly, everybody reaches their destination unharmed and in one piece! Despite the cacophony, proper care is taken for the ladies with small children, the elderly and infirms. If the child happens to be crying, all the benevolent and experienced ladies would pour their advices from all around, regarding, how to pacify the baby leaving the mother more confused than enlightened . The baby relents only when the mother manages to get off the train.
If by any chance, a quarrel breaks out, the stifling crowd not withstanding, the warring side would shout their guts out sticking to their respective point of view, sometimes matters reach to such flashpoint that they don’t dither from tearing each other’s hair apart, literally! Both side well aware of the absence of male viewers, so decorum is thrown out of the window. By chance if some ladies dare to take a side, they would be automatically sucked into the vortex and the sphere of battle ever increasing. Others who manage to stay silent can rest assured that they get full entertainment at the warring side’s expense.
I’m an infrequent traveler of local trains and whenever I had to, tried my best to avoid those office rush hours. The non peak hours are quite relaxed, the five seaters were mostly occupied by only two or three ladies and their children.
Once I was traveling alone, to beat the boredom, I was indulging in every food item the hawkers happened to sell, be it fruits, sweet or salty snacks. l observed that a lady, sitting in front of me, with a thirteen something daughter, was doing the same. I was carefully collecting all my leftover trash in the first polythene bag I got,while the girl was blithely scattering them all around creating a nuisance. Her mother too oblivious to her incivility to reprimand her.
But the girl was curiously following my actions taking me for an eccentric or something. Eventually when I got down at my destination, the first thing I did was to dospose the trash bag in a nearest dustbin. Quite instinctively when I glanced at the window of the place I sat, found the girl craning her neck to follow my action. On eye contact, I just smiled and waved at her. The dumb founded, ashen look on her face, as the train sped out is worth remembering. Maybe be next time, the girl might follow my suit, and behave sensibly.
Friends, when something is denied to us, we tend to miss them acutely. Exactly is the case of my travels in the ladies compartment of a local train. I really do miss it and so might be the rest of the ladies of Kolkata.Wish it resumes very soon.
Adieu for now(.