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I have been a Mumbai Locals traveler for almost 6 years now and yesterday at 2:45 PM, I rode onto my last train journey from Vile Parle Station to Mulund Station. This was the last journey I say because tomorrow I am leaving India for the United States to pursue a Masters in Computer Science.

When I completed my 10th Grade and joined my Diploma College, I had to travel daily from Mulund station to Vidyavihar station. I had no option but to travel by Mumbai Locals as it was the fastest and cheapest way there. Traveling from Mulund to Vidyavihar was easy (around 20-25 minute journey in the train, total 1 hour from home to college), this I realized when I joined my Bachelor’s College and had to travel from Mulund to Vile Parle daily (around 1-hour journey in the train, total 1-hour 40 minutes from home to college). So I have had a good, struggling, and long enough experience of Mumbai Locals till now.

Most of the time when I am traveling in Locals, I like to read or roam around on the Internet. On some odd days (or when my phone’s battery is dead), I just observe my surroundings, trying to understand and discover new things. And here are some of the things I have learned, discovered, understood, and experienced while traveling in the Mumbai Locals.

Helping Small

One day, I was traveling from Mulund Station to Dadar Station on a busy Friday Evening. Dadar is a major station in the Mumbai Locals Network, was supposed to be really crowded. Because I was a regular and was aware of this situation, I knew I had to get up and move close to the door when I was about to reach Matunga Station(previous station).

After I got up, I realized that moving close to the door is going to be difficult, somehow I struggled to reach just two steps away from the door. Now, to my misery, I realized that there was no place to place my next step and in that case, I will miss to get off at Dadar station.

At that moment, a person in front of me said, “It’s okay son, you can step on foot and push yourself “. I was amused and confused. He prompted again “Hurry!, the train is going to stop”. I tiptoed on his shoe and jumped onto the Dadar platform. I thanked him as he smiled back at me (still wondering what had just happened)

Helping other’s is satisfying. Even though I got the help that day, I learned that helping in small ways can go a long way and might make your or someone else’s Mumbai Local journey exciting.

Being Grateful

Traveling in the local train gives you an opportunity to observe people from (almost) all walks of life. I have grown up in a middle-class family, went to a government school, and later joined an engineering program to fulfill every middle-class families dream of getting a bit richer. And now I was traveling in a local train to save some money on transportation.

This really sunny day in May I was traveling like a routine from Mulund to Dadar Station. I was standing close to the aisle and constantly looking out for somebody who gets up so that I can get a seat to sit on. (When I say constantly looking, I mean doing something on my phone while using my peripheral vision to actually look)

Not getting a seat, empty water bottle on a hot day, traveling 2 hours to reach my college, and many similar problems were revolving in my head when I noticed a small kid (10-12 years old) getting inside the boggy with a huge white bag hanging on his tiny shoulders. He struggled to climb and get into the train. He was wearing old, tattered and faded clothes which were not washed for quite some time. As soon as the train began to move again, he removed 2-3 pens (12-inch long ballpoint pens) from his bag and started walking slowly on the aisles describing how good and long-lasting those pens were, hoping someone would buy them. Needless to say, none of the passengers even paid a dime’s attention to that kid.

5 minutes ago, I was thinking of those 10s of (privileged) problems I was facing and how (supposedly) difficult my life was. Now, I (20 years old) was looking at this poorly clothed kid (10-12 years old) who was selling pens worth 10 rupees (14 cents) in a Mumbai Local train on a really hot day to survive. Suddenly all my problems seemed so petite. I bought like 5 pens from him that day which brought a little smile on his tiny face. Before he starting walking, I asked him how much do these pens cost him. “Mujhe to sirf bechne bola hai, meri mummy ne yeh udhar pe li hai Tambi se” (I was told to sell them, my mom has borrowed them from Tambi) he replied in his thin voice before walking away to next aisle. I was stunned, his profit might not even come close to 5 rupees (7 cents) on each pen’s sale and yet he was putting in so much effort selling them.

Be Grateful. Looking at your life from a bubble only allows us to think in a narrow/atomic way and has no impact on our thinking (or problems). Mumbai Locals yet another time, helped me broaden my view on Life, Happiness and Everything in between with a mear glimpse into a poor kid’s life and his struggles to survive while I was moaning over my privileged problems. Be Grateful, Always. Also, donate.