It was 8:15am Monday morning at hustling Thane suburban railway station. There is a man dashing into the main gates, running and avoiding hitting others, who are more or less matching his pace.
Shanker panting a bit now, started to move up the foot over bridge with uncanny knack of dodging people and moving on. He could see that 8:32 fast local was scheduled to leave from platform no. 4. He had another 500 meters or so before he hit the needed platform.
8:27am, Shankar managed to reach his usual location to board the local. He had 5min, which seemed like a luxury at this point in time, to catch his breathe before he would board the usually crowded local. Shanker wiped his brow and was standing underneath a fan, which he shared with fellow passengers on the platform. The little gush of air, was bringing on, sweet pleasure in the sweltering humidity of Mumbai.
The local arrived, Shanker was all pecked up to enter the first class compartment. Others were ready as well. Even before the train could stop, there were people getting out of it and by the time it stopped, there was a mad rush of people to get in. It is usual to hear the noise of the iron door and few passengers hitting it.
“Awee jao mahein” (Come on inside), came the voice from inside the first class compartment. Jignesh called out loud to Shanker. This is a tacit understanding on a Mumbai local, wherein people would make way for you, if there are your friends/group calling out for you.
Anyway, Shanker was happy to reach inside and be with his usual co-passengers. He has been traveling with them for past 4 years now. The traveling was more of time where friends met.
Jignesh standing up from the seat said, “Shanker come sit here, looks like you have defeated Milkha singh today.” He had noticed the sweat on Shanker’s shirt.
Shanker said mockingly, “Nahi yarr, today was able to beat only P.T. Usha”.
Jignesh, as always, was quick to respond, “only that she is old you could make this statement”. Both laughed along with few others who witnessed the conversation.
Local had already moved and was swiftly passing to catch the next station Mulund.
“Well, where is Adil”, inquired Shanker.
Jignesh replied, “He had gone to meet his Uncle place over the weekend. Shall join us at Kurla.”
Jignesh was already busy with his mobile checking for stock market sentiment before the markets open. He his happy now as earlier he used to struggle with the newspaper, now with smart phone his life was simpler.
By this time the other members of the group (4more) were already discussing their weekend sojourns. They were interrupted with Shakar opening up his laptop. It was strange for him to do so while going to office.
Shanker announced, “ok guys, here is what we need to discuss and come to a conclusion on”.
Jignesh, barely looking up, “ Wali suru thei gayu (again you have started). What are you trying to gain my dear Shankar, you are not going to become Shanker Dayal Sharma”, He chuckled.
Shankar ignoring Jignesh said, We have another 10min before Adil comes in with his analysis.
One of the old group member said, “What is the hot topic that we are discussing, looks that a lot has happened over the two days when I was sick and not present’.
Before Shankar could speak, Jignesh keeping his phone in the pocket said, “bhai he wants to change India. He and Adil are debating what are the major reforms which the new government should take on and I was suggesting that nothing is going to change so enjoy the local ride in this heat.”
The old man said,”Jignesh there is more responsibility on us then just make money for oneself”.
Jignesh, kept quiet as he didn’t want to answer back to Uncle. Yes that what they called him. Shanker witnessed this and was smiling under the lips.
Train had reached Kurla now. …….
……………………“to be continued”
By ‘dod’ Rangers