Tag Archives: Mumbai

Monsoon – Bamboo’s guide to making the most of it


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As I type, I can only imagine the expansive number of people sitting by their window – watching trickles of rain glide down the glass, wasting away precious minutes of lying in bed and doing nothing on a Sunday. It’s one of those things that you can only do during the monsoons, that and deliberately poking people in the head with your umbrella; which is fun until someone tries to pry your umbrella out of your hands and bludgeon you with it. Comparatively, wasting away precious sleep-minutes seems rather stupid but a lot safer.

The general reaction to the monsoon has developed quite a regular pattern over the years. It’s a noticeable trend in the papers, the news, at AA sessions and parliament.

It starts with “Oh hey!! The rains are here, let’s all go frolic and be merry and forget we have our phones in our pockets.”

Joy soon transitions into “Oh crap, it’s raining again and I forgot the cheap-ass zip-lock bag I bought to keep my phone in. I think I’m going to cry now.”

At some point, disappointment turns to submissiveness – “Ah well, my cow just floated away in the floods but it’s OK, I’ll just drink pig’s milk for a few months”

And eventually, it always ends up in rage “Damn you rain, I’ve lost my favourite pair of shoes, 3 cell phones, an old friend, and 8 weekends of drinking till I drop to you, kindly fuck off NOW!”

Clearly we’re not very good learners. So, as the dispenser of free and mostly useless knowledge, I have penned some of my #FTR (Fuck The Rain) rules for you. Some are for your safety, others are to help you out when you’re in a sticky situation and one or two are for your entertainment but they might cost you a few ounces of self-respect and dignity.

1. Stop freakin’ whining – This one’s pretty straight forward. We’ve all gathered you have a love hate relationship with the rain. The love is when it isn’t raining for 9 months of the year and the hate is when it’s actually here. We also know that you are very vocal about how the rain ruined your new shoes, jeans, gadgets, undies or other such pointless shit. Get over it and stop whining. Your tweet about the rain is not going to hurt its feelings. Instead, just make like Pamela Anderson and put plastic everywhere, it’ll keep you dry and a little less annoying.

2. Everything is a weapon – Now along with all the romance, wet T-shirt contests and well disguised man holes, the rain also brings with it a whole lot of chaos. People in the streets forget they’re people. And people who forget they’re people deserve to be beaten so use your anti-rain equipment as arms and beat the shit out of people. Poke, prod and jostle with your umbrellas. Open those badasses up and make an eight-point eye poker – An octo-ocular destroyer. Use your raincoat (why do you still have a raincoat?) as a distraction – people with raincoats are always presumed to be a little daft and are overlooked, avoid being overlooked by spear-tackling the Monsoon-protection fashion police.

3. The Sharing is caring rule – It’s an old saying and for good reason…because it’s bloody true. You share shit with people all the time – food, drinks, shitty stories that go nowhere; they owe you something in return and this is when you should claim it. If we can pack 800 people into a train compartment for 10, why the hell can’t we shove 6 people under an umbrella for one? Hell, raincoats are pretty loose, you have the right to sneak into someone’s when they’re not looking too!

4. The natural repellent – Obviously, Rule No. 3 is for you, under the assumption that you’re a hygienic, mentally stable, normal adult but it’s a jungle out there and you never know when someone who doesn’t comply to those criteria might use Rule No. 3 with you. So, here’s how you repel unhygienic, mentally unstable or abnormal kids and/or adults from getting to close. You jump. It’s not hard, just find a big puddle, make like a kangaroo and hop in! There’s nothing more fulfilling than watching a judgmental middle-aged aunty scurry off with mud stains on her stark white clothes. Just pray she wasn’t on her way to a funeral and you’ll be fine.

5. Pedestrians could use a shower – This one’s specific to drivers, and maybe kleptomaniacs. If you’ve ever been through a market, a train, McDonald’s or more recently, Starbucks, you’d have noticed that there are shit loads of people there….and some of them stink. Well, maybe monsoons are just nature’s way of saying “Hey you dirty pigs, here, have a free shower!” If you’re in your car, presume all  pedestrians to be smelly and drive through every puddle or pot hole you see. They’ll hate you for it, probably curse you, your parents, and your existence for it, but in the long run, you’ll sleep easy knowing you gave some dude a free bath. If you are one of those pedestrians, there’s no reason you can’t help some your odoriferous counterparts out. Just grab their umbrella and make a run for it!

6. You could use a shower too – In extension to Rule No. 5, I hate to break it to you but you smell a little too sometimes. Just do us all a favour and frolic a little, please.

7. Are you an idiot? – Having said all that I have said, it’s time to face the truth. It’s rain. It’s water falling through the sky. It’s not a disease or an old man in the sauna, it’s just H2O, if it gets on you it’s not going to ruin your life or leave you scarred, you’ll get a little wet and if you’re wearing white, your nipples will show. No harm done. Deal with it.

8. You’re still pretty fucked – Oh, I might as well mention now that all the above rules are only regarding “rain”. As in precipitation, baarish, water falling through the sky. If you live in Bombay, you know that water once fallen, nowhere goes. If that happens, you’re going to be stuck in flooded streets, markets, malls, homes, etc. etc. and all hell will probably break lose. In such cases, this guide won’t do you any good, you’ll probably get more help from a guide to dealing with the Zombie Apocalypse.


Disclaimer: These guidelines have been framed based on my personal experiences in order to ensure that you can have a dry and wholesome monsoon experience. The rains have the inexplicable ability of turning a lazy evening drive and coffee by the sea into a swim for survival so it is good to have a few helpers in dealing with them. Following any or all of the above points could result in a severe bashing in of your face, head, groin area or any other body part for that matter. Read and execute at your own risk.
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Mumbai Local – Bamboo’s Guide to Getting there on Time

 

 

When I successfully completed my XII standard I thought my disastrous affair with Mumbai’s local trains had come to an abrupt but welcome end. It is truly unfortunate that 5 years on, the leech that is the local train has clawed its way back into my life. With a schedule to keep and by sheer compulsion, I’m forced to deal with this abomination on a twice daily basis.

It’s peculiar how humans have the tendency to emulate lower intelligence creatures when put into certain situations. The trains are one of those situations where even the nicest, Dalai Lama-esque person could suddenly turn into a nuisance and an embarrassment to the human race and just as swiftly change back to his crimson robe wearing ways once he disembarks. In general, most people turn into rats on the train – they’re selfish, repugnant and you will get a fatal disease when bitten by one of them. While fending off such rodents on my commute to and from work, I’ve learnt a few tips and tricks that could make your next local train journey just a little less uncomfortable and just a little more awkward for your immediate neighbours.

1. The Elbow Rule – The train is a bean bag and its passengers are the beans; that makes you a bean too. If you’ve ever looked inside a bean bag you would have noticed that none of the beans have any personal space, they’re all just squanched up together and it’s the same in the train. The elbow rule advises that when walking on the platform and boarding or alighting a train, you should jostle with your palms joined at the belly and your elbows extended outwards making sure you prod or poke as many people as possible. This will ensure that you are not able to listen to the thoughts of the man pressed up against you and that you do not smell of another man’s sweat when you disembark the train.

2. The Goalkeeper Rule – The goal keeper rule is similar to The Elbow Rule (See point 1) but it is more effective for ascending and descending staircases at the station. The rule basically states that just like a goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation, you must make yourself look as big as possible when climbing steps in order to not have another mans bum in your face and to be able to see your own feet. Making yourself big involves walking with your shoulders as broad as possible, taking wide steps, and keeping your arms away from your body. Taking this rule to the extreme by flapping your arms violently, stomping and making gargling sounds will give the other commuters the impression that you are mental and thereby earn you a lot more space. It is not advisable to follow this rule on the train or on the platform as you could easily be thrown onto the tracks by a disgruntled traveller.

3. The Oil Spill – One morning I was on an unsurprisingly overcrowded train and when I debarked I found my white shirt was tainted by patches. The usual sweat patches on the armpits and back and a baffling one on my forearm. Then I realized that it wasn’t a sweat patch but rather an oil patch from the stubby little fellow in front of me whose head looked like America would raid it for oil next. I like to call them the Oil Spills. Watch out for these guys if you do not want weird patches on your clothes. An easy trick when you encounter an Oil Spill is to piss then off to the extent where they choose to rear their coconut oil harbouring head elsewhere, this can be achieved by jostling, kneeing, kicking and burping. Be warned though, should the Oil Spill get aggravated, he could explode into a ball of flames.

4. The Easy Peasy don’t you Sneezy Law – This one’s pretty simple. Everyone on the train is devoid of morals, principles, values and brains in general, so it is advisable to not piss anyone off. Entry onto the train is not height selective so it is possible that you may be caught behind a shorter person who is not an Oil Spill (See point 3) and whose hair is doing a thing of its own. A wayward hair from such a head could find its way to your nostrils and induce a sneeze. Sneezing on someone could piss said person off so try not doing it.

5. The Ledis Law – Trains have a dedicated compartment for ladies or as they are referred to in train jargon – Ledis log, but sometimes the stray lady does find her way into the general compartment. When faced with such a situation common sense would suggest that you treat the lady respectfully and avoid any awkward and unsocial behaviour. Common sense however is not very prominent in train brains so ignore yours. Ledis log have a reserved place on the train, hell they even have a whole special train for themselves, but they’ve failed to take advantage of it so treat the lady as you would anyone else. More often than not she’s going to be rough around the edges and might even be more vulgar than most men. To determine this – check for a basket of fish on her head, fish ladies are sewage mouthed.

6. The Ben Affleck – Every white Caucasian male is Ben Affleck (for reference watch Role Models). You might find a tourist Ben Affleck or hippy Ben Affleck in the train with you. This guy is your test dummy, oblivious to train etiquette and rodent behaviour, you can use this object as a barrier or as cushioning. Lean, prod, push and pull, these fools had no clue what they were in for when they boarded the train so give them the lot.

7. The Quadbod Doorway (intuitive) rule – There is an unspoken understanding between regular train commuters that a one-time traveller will never be able to comprehend. For instance, did you know it is kosher for one overhead handle to be held by three different individuals at the same time, irrespective of the intensity of pain caused due to fingers being crushed? Similarly, the Quadbod Doorway rule, as the name suggests, states that the doorway in any train – overcrowded or otherwise, must be occupied by four bodies; no more and no less. Even if there are only nine people in the bogey, four must be in each of the doorways. Defying this rule is not punishable by law but it is advised to comply with it if you do not wish to attract unwanted attention.

8. The Khar to Dadar Super Slow – This is not a rule or law or guideline to follow. It is a warning. There exist a handful of unstated tourist special local trains. Like the 8:31 am Churchgate slow that I sometimes board, the tourist special Super Slow trains make it a point to stop at every station for 5 minutes and an additional stop for 10 minutes between two stations for the local train enthusiasts to inhale that uniquely disgusting odour of a smooth, nostril infiltrating blend of faeces and sewage that lines the entire network. This along with the opportunity to take in the sight of slum dwellers laying shit bricks on the track and washing their clothes in Mumbai’s flush water that is the Mahim Creek fuses the Mumbai local’s role as a commuter’s transport and a tour guide. If you are going to use the local trains regularly, identify these undisclosed Super Slows and avoid availing of their service to increase your life expectancy by around 15 years.

9. The Baby Bag manoeuvre – For those who carry backpacks on the train the baby bag manoeuvre is an essential technique to ensure your baggage does not get broken into and stays with you through your local train journey. While wearing your backpack on your front side might be frowned upon by fashionistas, it is the only way you can keep an eye on it when you are one of 400 passengers in a bogey designed to fit only 50. Mastering the slick, seamlessly smooth transition from back to front and timing it to perfection could result in you retaining your fashion respect as well as your bag. Look out for the numerous instances of this manoeuvre, often synchronised to the second at any busy station.

10. The Will He Won’t He Game for the overly sadistic – This is a special game I came up with while I waited at Dadar platform one day. It has a few requirements and it could have very dire consequences if you are not subtle enough in your actions. The main requirement is to be possibly the most sadistic person in the world, to be over the age of 18 and to have a wee bit of free time. The game is simple; you stand at a platform of your choice, at a station of your choice – preferably a crowded one. Wait for a train to arrive and stand close to the door giving people the impression that you want to board it. Now as the train comes to a halt you start pushing and pulling people all around you pretending like you are struggling to get into the train, but actually you are in the exact same place. Do this and prevent people behind you from boarding the train just for a few laughs and once the train is on its way you can leave the station and drive back home in the comfort of your devil-mobile. You can also play this game whilst on the train, preventing people from disembarking or boarding the train. Be aware that there is the possibility of getting the crap beaten out of you, being forcefully pushed onto the train or being trampled by a stampede of exiting travellers.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: These rules, laws and guidelines have been framed based on my personal experiences in order to ensure that you can have a safe and comfortable journey on the Mumbai local train. The train has the inexplicable ability of turning well-mannered gentlemen and elegant ladies into right ol’ dickheads so it is good to have a few helpers in dealing with them. Following any or all of the above points could result in a severe bashing in of your face, head, groin area or any other body part for that matter. Read and execute at your own risk.


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