Someone from Mumbai, once told me quite fondly about the city’s local train network. She said, “Once you get onto the platform during peak hours, there’s no need for you to walk towards the train. Just let the crowd push you to it.” I was intrigued by that vivid description.
Once the metro began running in my city, I began to see the truth of her words. The daily commute to work by the metro is always a harrowing experience, especially if you’re a tiny wispy figure, who often goes unnoticed. The metro is so crowded during morning peak hours that taking a deep breath seems like an impossible feat. And you can totally forget about securing some personal space to yourself. You involuntarily become the recipient of getting touched, pushed, jostled, nudged, and stepped on, whilst getting sandwiched in between giant gentlemen whose protruding bellies serve as a cushion-y armor of some sorts, protecting you from the train’s sudden jerks. Once your destination arrives, you spill out of the train with relief and the first thing you do is gulp in a huge amount of air to make up for the lack of oxygen inside the crowded compartments.
Somewhere amongst all these unpleasantries, you do develop a fondness to the driverless tin box for convenience reasons and a deep sense of camaraderie towards fellow commuters. After all, they are in the same boat (errr, train) as yourself.
Now, I am the sort of person who usually prefers to be immersed in a book while listening to music during the wait on the platform and the entire journey. Every once in a while, I like to look up from my book, soak the crowded atmosphere and look at sleepy and solemn faces, wondering where everyone is going, what their personalities are like behind their formal work suits, what they do for a living, what their personal lives are like et cetera. And it is during these times, that I see familiar faces – fellow passengers who travel with me everyday on the same train. I have begun to think of them as my friends even though I have never ever spoken to them.
I look forward to meeting my “friends” on the metro everyday. Sometimes if I’m a bit late or when I don’t see them on the platform and the same train, I feel a bit disappointed. My journey is incomplete without them. It is funny how we develop familiarity towards people who are otherwise total strangers to us. I don’t know them, they don’t know me, we’ve barely had eye contact let alone exchanged smiles or small talk, but still they are a comforting part of my life. I guess sometimes words are totally unnecessary. It reminds me of Ronan Keating’s famous single, “You say it best when you say nothing at all.”
P.S – I give complete credit of the post’s French title to Google Translate, so please pardonnez-moi if there’s a grammatical error. I am trying my best to pick the language up. 😉