All Aboard!

It was finally the day that I had been anxiously dreading for four months, getting on a train in Mumbai! The travel from New Zealand to Mumbai had been interesting thus far, but the delayed planes and our ‘fun’ turbulence were nothing compared to how I felt about getting on a train. Movies showed packed platforms where passengers moved in waves, almost stampede-like until a little child inevitably got lost in the hoards of people. It was truly not something I was looking forward to.

So you can imagine my relief when our wonderful host-organization coordinators Naveen and Mala gave us a thorough tour of the train system. After a long study of the metro maps, and carefully planning where we would all get on and off the trains, we were on our way!

My first impression of the train station was that “surely it was an off day”? I was relieved that I wasn’t immediately lost in a sea of people, but still, there was barely anyone there compared to what I had imagined! We all managed to board the train, despite the fact that we only had 30 seconds to a minute at each stop. The Mumbaiker mindset of ‘you work with what you’ve got’ was really amazing to see, with people jumping in and out of the trains that were slowing to a stop, but still definitely moving! My favorite part of the ride was definitely the open doors. While an open door on a New Zealand train would have raised more than a few eyebrows, it would have done the exact opposite in Mumbai. The rushing air quickly dealt with the humidity of the city, and despite my perhaps irrational, perhaps very rational fear of falling out of the carriage, leaning out gave a stunning view of the passing landscape.

Taking full advantage of the open doors

It’s interesting to think about how our perceptions are so quickly formed, and how strongly we hold onto those. While there were a few instances when the trains were packed during the commute to work, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined it would be (hopefully I don’t jinx it)! The fear that I had held onto about using the trains would have seen me never stepping foot in one if I had the choice. In a way, I was lucky that I had a fairly long commute to and from work because it forced me to use the Mumbai trains, and wow, what an experience! I guess the lesson here for me is to not let myself form judgments about things based purely on other people’s stories, because if I do, I could miss out on some pretty great things! Take everything with a pinch of salt!!

Until we meet again! Stay safe and ka kite anō!

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