What I observed in half an hour waiting for the train

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Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

03 March 2010: After few days stay at Mumbai, my wife and myself were on our way back home. As usual we started quite early from home so as to reach the Thane railway station at least one hour in advance so as to make allowance for the delay in getting the local train ticket and any untoward disruption in local train service. Carrying the moderate luggage we made our way to the 7th platform at the Thane railway station where the ‘Matsyagandha Express’ would arrive. Locating the bogey position through the chart displayed on the board we proceeded and stood underneath the bogey number indicator.

By the time we finished all the priliminaries it was two o’clock and still there was half an hour for the train to arrive. Being a keen observer my restless eyes began to explore the platforms. There are ten platforms in the Thane railways station. Six of them are exlusively for the local trains though certain down and up trains halt at 5th and 6th platforms respectively.  7th and 8th platforms are exclusievely meant for long distance trains, where as 9th and 10th platforms are meant for the Thane-Vashi local trains. These two platforms being much lengthier the southern half of these platforms are practically empty and forsaken which are being put to good use by the stray dogs who take their nap without being chased away. I could see two dogs enjoying their afternoon siesta, one even lifting one of its legs in the air.

A little further, i could see a man having a sound sleep on the platform itself. There are many such people who may not be able to have sound sleep at home or may be homeless people who make railway stations their temporary homes.  The sight of chana sellers is quite common on the platforms and in local trains during the off-peak travelling hours.

On the platform where we had stood i saw four porters (coolies) sitting on a trolley, one keeping his plam on his forehead as if he is worried about his meagre earning. Other three were looking in different directions may be wondering why people no longer avail their services and travel light. Nowdays people carry lesser things to native villages where as while coming back to Mumbai carry heavy baggages with coconuts, rice and after few months even jackfruits.

My gaze fell on the tracks of 9th platform where two red uniformed workers were cleaning up the trackes by picking waste papers, plastic bags, empty bottles and other rubbish. While one was dragging the plastic drum on the rail other one was looking up to the bridge, may be just wondering as to why people do not have the civic sense and deposit the throw away things in the refuse bins kept on the platform.

Against the railing of the last platform i could see two persons sitting and gazing in the blank, one of them having a bag nearby. These people may be doubling as rag pickers as well as beggars. The Thane railway station is also a home for the nomadic families who earn their living by exchanging plastic buckets, containers, etc. for used clothes. In the afternoon many of these nomadic families would gather at the 9th platform and sort out the clothes that they had acquired and sell them in the nearby old clothes market out side the station.

The other things that i observed on the platform where we stood was that a blind man walking  across the platform shaking the safety chains and locks to attract the attention of the travellers, an elederly woman with a huge vermilion mark on her forehead, wide rimmed eye glasses and a huge garland of sea-shells dangling around her neck making rounds asking for alms in the name of Yellamma. I was appalled to see two shoe-shine boys moving across the platform asking the people to allow them to polish their sandals or shoe for a nominal fee. These young boys should have been in the school, but poverty or some other reason might have pushed them to this plight.

Meanwhile, the up train from Coimbattor made a halt at the 6th platform and i could see a woman sticking her neck out of the emergency window and washing her face rather than using the wash basin. At the door of another compartment of the same train a boy with a bagful of used and discarded waterbottles standing triumphantly and giving a broad smile to my camera.

By the time i finished observing the different moods and verities of human activities and clicking the pictures, it was 2.35pm and the ‘Matsyagandha’ arrived on the 7th platforms. Entering the compartment and sitting by the side of the window i could still see many of the persons that i had observed on the platform. As the train moved  further down, my mind still lingered on the empty platforms of the Thane railway station pondering over the fact that i could observe so many people with verities of activities or inactivity at one place in just half an hour. 


Comments on this Article
Hoogaloganda, Tamil Nadu Sun, April-25-2010, 7:13
Hoobli Hoobli!!!!
prince, podikambla/dubai Wed, March-3-2010, 6:24
This is the reality of amchi mumbai.Nice photos.Thanks to Dr eugine for your sensible article.Keep writing...good wishes.
Manoj, Moodubelle/Dubai Wed, March-3-2010, 3:23
Mera Barath Mahaan. "Mul enchala Badhkoli.....!!!!"
ALWYN DANTHY, PERNAL/shirva Wed, March-3-2010, 2:57
So many slum dog millioner all over the world.....nice photos n nice article......keep it up.... Dr.
Akil Vijay DSouza, Moodubelle Tue, March-2-2010, 11:23
Excellent snaps from your Camera Dr. Eugene...
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