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  1. <3 wonderful pictures. Oh, India!! So much life and color and activity busting out of every square inch. Made me miss it! Though, I confess to never having tried to catch a train in Mumbai. Last time we were there, we saw a train heading out over the bridge – at rush hour – absolutely covered in people, just like you described. It was thrilling and crazy all at once!

  2. Although not nearly as crowded nor requiring women-only cars, marking out the exact spot to stand on platform sounds very reminiscent of what I used to do when commuting to WTC. Yeah, I miss the exacting drill.

    Your photos speak for themselves; the poverty is so much more glaring than the grids you shot through.

    Glad I happened upon your post via FB, Vaishali. Hope you and Desi are well.

  3. I love your essays and photos, Vaishali. You’re capturing a slice of everyday life in such a neat way. I used to be a seasoned local traveler too. Your post suddenly made me remember one time in college when a friend convinced me to go into the first class compartment with a second class ticket and we almost got caught!

  4. Loved your essay Vaishali and pictures by Desi too. Mumbai, and its local trains still amuse me, like a true non-Mumbaikar! I have travelled handful of times in the really crowded trains and counting my breaths throughout the journey!

    Looking forward to read more!

  5. I bet a Mumbai train ride is a must for any traveller visiting the state :-) I still remember my first ever train ride while I was visiting cousins in Mumbai several years ago and I don’t think I had to ever try to get into the train, the crowd just dragged me in…hehe…That day I remember feeling horribly scared, but now I laugh my butts out thinking abt it!! Lovely post and so naturally pictured!

  6. Joe, thank you!

    Amey, “Color and activity bursting out of every inch” — you nailed it, that’s India.

    Susan, I guess travel by public transport in any megalopolis is daunting. And thrilling, in a way!

    ET, thanks! I hope I did Mumbai justice. The poverty is glaring, but ironically it is also inspiring to see the smiling faces in the midst of that grim world. It always gives me a new perspective on my life and all that complaining I do everyday about things that are hardly worth complaining about in the larger picture.

    Nupur, you made me smile– who in Mumbai hasn’t been guilty of that little crime? I had a friend whose uncle was a retired railway officer and she had his pass that she would use to travel first class–she would just flash it at the TCs and they would let her go without actually checking the name on it. She would encourage me to go first-class with her at times, which I did against my better judgement.

    Mints, thanks! And I think I was counting my breaths this time. :)

    Manju, yes, makes one feel just a little special after having survived a train ride in Mumbai, doesn’t it? :)

  7. I have been reading your blog for some years now, but somehow did not get to it in the last few weeks.
    The wonderful pictures and your lively write-up made me all nostalgic.
    I too grew up in andheri (E), but had cousins who stayed in dhake colony, near Apna Bazar; I probably might have passed by your apartment , if not you, multiple times during the 80s and the 90s. If I recall correctly, Archana Joglekar, an Indian classical dancer who did a few films also used to live in dhake colony for some time.
    Decades ago, this Apna Bazar was probably the ONLY multi floor supermarket; and now it is DWARFED by the tall buildings all around it!
    I remember how crowded I used to find it in the 90s and when I visited in 2010 the crowd was at an altogether other level!
    I will be visiting again in November and am looking forward with anticipation/trepidation.
    Thank you so much for the posts.
    I hope you have a wonderful finish to your Mumbai visit.
    take care…

  8. Hi Jay, what a coincidence! Yes, I remember Archana Joglekar. I had a friend who was learning dance from either her or her mom– I forget which one– and I would accompany her sometimes to their home for the class. And you’re so right about the Apna Bazar– it used to be this huge supermarket in the area and now you can barely find it in the chaos around it. I am sure you will find it hard to recognize anything when you go back, much as I did. It was very saddening in a way. We immigrants go back hoping to find the world we left the same and when we realize it has moved on without us it feels like a betrayal.

  9. Hello Vaishali, there are other things besides your residing in dhake colony. You see, my father is from Karwar too and I am a vegetarian who does not eat onion and garlic.
    As for going back, it reminds me of the opening line from LP Hartley’s ‘The Go-Between’; The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
    It sounds a bit strange talking about the 80s and 90s as sometime way back in the past, but then Mumbai is changing rapidly.
    thanks for reviving some golden memories…

  10. Jay, Yes, they do things differently indeed. :) Nice to know we have so much in common. The other day I heard someone refer to the Madhuri Dixit movie Saajan as an oldie and I felt so ancient!

  11. I’ve travelled the length and breadth of India, all by train, and although scared out of my wits, loved it. Your pics brought back wonderful memories of sitting by the window and just drinking in all that life going on, and the quick snapshot as the train rumbled past. My first experience of India was Mumbai’s Churchgate Station, trying to get into the station at early morning, with, it felt like, every person in India trying to come out. I learnt then about using elbows and a loud voice. I did sit and cry when I finally made it in, and a lovely man immediately came to me and asked if I was alright…when I explained I was just tired and overwhelmed, and trying to find a phone to ring around to get accommodation, he was very helpful. That experience didn’t stop me, I’ve returned 7 or 8 times since, for more. You certainly did Mumbai justice with your words and pictures.

  12. Wow..this brings back so many memories. I was born and raised in Ghatkopar. I have traveled by train all my student life. And you are right, every time I am back in Mumbai and board one of these trains, I feel confused and wonder how did I ever do it back then :) It does need real talent.
    I miss the Irani coffee in Matunga. No other coffee like that.
    Hope your trip was pleasant.

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