I couldn’t move, punched in the abdomen, my head was hit twice. My left arm was being twisted by someone, the right one was bruised by another man’s nails and it was just the first 2 seconds. You guessed it right, I was boarding a local at peak hours from Kurla Station.
If Dante were alive today, all the nine rungs of hell would be a Kurla Station platform. The deepest rung would obviously be the harbour line platform. Being a strong believer of Karma, and someone who spent the last one year changing trains from Kurla, I’ve come to the conclusion that I use to kill orphan puppies and sell their blood for a living in my previous life.
Kurla station depicts life in India like no other place. The similarities are striking. Little or no space, everybody seems desperate and sweaty, always in a rush but never on time. Nobody cares about the rules, people are shoved and groped in equal measure. The tracks of Kurla station deserve a Discovery Channel Documentary of its own. I swear to God, the rodents and other unidentified creatures I’ve seen in and around those tracks are unlike anything the world has ever seen. Their sheer size makes me wonder if there’s a secret government facility below the tracks that indulges in unethical experiments on animals.
I wondered why people risked their lives and cross the tracks instead of taking the overhead bridge. I got my answer on the first day itself. The dilapidated, paan-stained ancient structures may seem like any other Indian creation, but they are not. They’re the most secular structure in our country. Where else would you find Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Anarchists(Honey Singh Fans) standing shoulder to shoulder sometimes seemingly joint at the hip giving their all for one common goal: reaching the platform. It’s suffocating, dirty and smells bad. Even in this melee, you’ll find beggars plying their trade and small time entrepreneurs begging us to buy their stuff. Your butt will be pinched, your wallet nicked, sometimes both at the same time.
As and when one manages to reach the platform, you’ll be greeted by a sea of people waiting for the portable boot camps that are Mumbai Locals. Fellow commuters form a line parallel to the tracks just 2 feet away from the oncoming train. Every day, you can see the train coming, jobless youth hanging out from its coaches eagerly anticipating the platform so as to alight in the most life threatening way possible.
And then as you brace yourself for the impending Spartan attack from the people trying to get down, you realise you’re just a small person. The cycle continues and Kurla is your universe. You either make peace with that fact or suffer like I did.