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October 12th, 2005

9 th October 2005


I got into the train from Byculla to Dadar. Trains were running late. When trains are running late, people start peering from the edges of the platform, into the distant, to check out the (bleak) prospects of an arriving train. The other day, S said to me, “This city generates a lot of stress.” His words were stuck in my mind. Today, when the trains are running late and women and men are constantly peering from the edges of the platform, into the distant, to check out the (bleak) prospects of an arriving train, I can feel the arising tension. Nothing is said, everything is felt – perhaps this is the story of all railway stations in the city where the experiences are largely sensorial.


I wonder then whether it is actually time that governs each aspect of our life in this city and maybe space takes a backseat??? Are pace and time different? Or does time determine pace? Are there people in the city who are unaffected by time and are not under its regime? Is the city automatically fast paced or is it we who generate pace? Is time then an entity in isolation or is it a product of our daily practices and lifestyles?


Ultimately, the train arrived. Now, looking at the crowd inside the train, all of us women began to be stressed out. The visual of the crowd also creates stress (something which used to happen to me when I did rides on the Delhi Metro this time around and considering that the Metro is nothing compared to the scale of our crowds!). Somehow I managed to get into the train. I immediately stood by the other door since I had to get off at Dadar. Two women, one with a child, came and stood next to me and then sat down on the flooring. Both the women were dark. The one immediately next to me had a smelly food item in her hand and she was too close to me, physically. I found that every time I tried to move away from her, she would grab that centimeter of (distance) space and make it her own. I did not want her to touch me because I did not want to be smelly. I found her too irritating for me. Damn!


With each station, the train was getting crowded. I was wondering at which station both these women would receive reprimanding for being inconsiderate and occupying (extra) space. Finally it happened! At Parel station! Dressed and decorated Maharashtrian women got into the train and immediately began shouting at both these women. At this point, I wondered whether the commuter women were in a position of power because these two seated women were poor, perhaps slum dwellers, dark, illiterate, rural. But the woman with the child fought back. She refused to stand up. The one sitting next to me said she was dizzy and needed place to sit else she would fall. It is interesting that when this screaming and shouting does happen, some women take on a role of empathizers and try to explain the (crowded) situation in a rational and reasonable manner. “Why don’t you stand up at Dadar station and sit down once we have crossed the station? This way you will not be walked/stamped upon by the crowds which get in at Dadar? We understand your situation but let’s negotiate for now in the best possible manner (and space)!”


The train hit Dadar platform. Each one of us wanting to get down were stressed at the prospect of getting off. But get off we must and we did! Then I wonder whether all this stress is an anticipation of a future situation which actually rarely happens???




  1. October 13th, 2005 at 03:09 | #1

    i realised the stress only after it was gone. i kind of had become used to the routine stress.