From Delhi’s belly to Mumbai’s stinking rear-end

When a Delhi girl took the Mumbai Local

You get used to it after sometime, traveling through the rotting muck of this city – the excreta laden tracks surrounded by the feculent slums. There is a very pre-independence type of a feel in traveling by the Mumbai local – step off the trembling shambles of the Dadar local into the posh brick streets of Colaba – it almost appears as if you have time traveled.

Not that I don’t own a car, but hello have you seen the insane traffic in this city or in any other city for that matter – Delhi, Bangalore, Pune? It seems like a grand waste of time and money playing the traffic game every morning and evening in our metros.

Ergo I choose public commute.

Now, I had been having the time of my life in Delhi for the past six years. The metro though maddeningly crowded during peak hours, had made the ordeal of meeting far-cast-away friends a joy ride. During those one hour plus journeys in well maintained air conditioned public spaces I could read a book, talk to a stranger, doze off with my Dior glasses on or just let my stream of consciousness take over while gazing at the wonderful panorama of Delhi.


Then I shifted to Bombay.


Don’t let my drama mislead you. It wasn’t that bad. I have lived in six different cities and eleven towns and never have I taken to a city as easily as I did to Bombay. The air was clean, the people polite, there were the tall, the really tall buildings, there were my friends and then of course the sea. Love the sea.

But then on a weekend when my friends called me to chill in Colaba, I took the fastest public transit route I could – the local.

< Right moment for a dramatic release >

Deep sigh.

What is with the decaying state of the railway stations? Why are they so dirty? I bought the tickets, but no one checked them, you see where I am going with the larger implications of this, don’t you?


With the smartcard swipe entry memory quite raw in my being I proceeded to the platforms. Now, I was traveling from the newer part of Bombay and it was around six in the morning so the platforms were largely empty. There was a very 80’s Bollywood feel to the early morning railway station platform.

Then my local arrived and I stepped in the ladies compartment.

The horror.


I realized then how much I had taken for granted the urban life of Delhi. I shall not dwell on the well turned out Delhi metro crowd, no. But it hurts to move through the so called life-line of Bombay aware that I am prodding through a city’s soiled intestines.


I am also not going to talk about the people who live in the slums by the tracks or about the pervert creatures lurking in the forgotten pockets of these overcrowded terminals. No. Neither am I going to talk about the people who take the local every day. No.

Bombay is a city of survivors. It has survived the riots, the innumerable blasts and also that fateful week of November. It has chosen to move on, to live, to breathe, to thrive.

And I see it now, how you do this survival thing – you become numb to the gut-churning foul grub around you.

What choice do you have any way?

The images used in the article are from Delhi view – The HinduMumbai Local from here and Slum Local Bombay from Railnews. The PeopleandCafes and the ladies compartment pictures are my own.

Dear people-who-are-new-to-Bombay,

If like me you choose to use public transport, I would advise you to download this app. It gives you all the information from platform numbers to departure timings and fares of the local trains and also tells you about the bus routes, timings, auto fares.
And it does something even better, it tells you the fastest and also the cheapest way to commute between any two places in your city. It is interactive; you can just pick your destination on the map and click to know about nearby railway, bus, metro, mono stops. 

Do let me know how you liked this article. Be nice and drop a comment below. 

50 things NOT TO DO in Bombay

things1.Get into a Virar train if you are going to Borivali
2.Take Taxis outside Dadar & Kurla stations, go ahead, try you will know why
3.Eat Bhel at Kailash Parbat
4.Call a cop ‘Pandu’
5.Argue with a Koli Fisherwoman
6.Get a 11 Rupee massage at Girgaum Chowpatty
7.Call a BEST bus driver ‘Bhaiya’
8.Buy enhancement medicines from Van – Travelling Hakims who are the desi versions of the flying doctors
9. Look smart while visiting Chor Bazaar
10. Ask the Sandwich wallah on Dalal Street for market tips
11. Stand in front of Amitabh/shahrukh/salmaan’s house — u look stupid and its waste of time
12. Baba Bengalis are neither Baba’s or Bengalis they are all perverts and thugs
13. Visit sleazy Video Parlours and get caught in a raid
14. Get excited and start jumping when someone offers you Paanch ka Dollar, it’s just a tiny 5 Rupee coin
15. Go for a Shiv Sena rally in hope for a Free Vada Pav and Shiv Sena Banian
16. Stare at Koli Women in Gorai and Make fun of Kolis in their Kasti
17. While commuting don’t tease people shitting near the tracks, they throw stones back at the train
18. Hang outside the train, Poles might hit you before the crowds will.
19. Tease a Hijra.
20. Bribe a Porter to grab a seat in V.T, chances are he might run off with your money and even beat you.
21. Get conned at Fountain from Guys selling cheap Mobiles, they mesmerize and wrap soap bars.
22. Say Hello to pimps behinds Mondegar & Pasta Lanes.
23. Donate money to the Crying Cab driver, he has conned thousands.
24. Invite Brass Polishwalas into your house
25. Sit for more than 20 mins extra at an Irani Café, the Bawa owner might shout some sister abuses.
26. Drink Neera at 5 pm at Dadar Station
27. Have lassi outside Dadar Station (west), they add Tissue Paper while preparing it
28. Throw stones at monkeys in Borivali National Park
29. Loiter around in Shivaji Park on Dec 6th.
30. Ask for a bargain at the Maharastrian Cloth store in Dadar.
31. Call up 26407383 Beanbags thinking it’s an escort service.
32. Call a Maharastrian guy Bhaiya, no matter how respectful you mean.
33. Go to Mondegar and ask for a Jain Pav Bhaji
34. Look straight and walk, We have open Manholes, flicked by Druggies.
35. Wear Brown Khakis shirts, People will mistake you for BMC staff.
36. Ask for Warranty & Guarantee from the Mallu Electronic stalls in Fountain area.
37. Search for the Kala Ghoda in Kala Ghoda.
38. Ask why statues in Bombay have one finger pointed like Umpires.
39. Apply Rai ka Tel on your head and travel by public transport.
40. Go to Chor Bazaar in your Car or Bike.
41. Wear nice footwear to SiddiVinayak or Mahalakshmi Temple
42. Go to Haji Ali during high tides
43. Go to work when a Shiv Sena bandh is on.
44. Dial 100 for fun, Cops will put your entire family behind bars and use bars.
45. Buy water & tea for Chai-Pani, Old Monk should work.
46. Fall asleep on the Harbour Line, Thieves will strip you of everything.
47. Eat Missal / Ussal Pav before going to work.
48. Board a fast train in Dadar to go to Bandra. Opposite platforms and a very horrible crowd
49. Go for midnight mass thinking you can patao chicks
50. give money to bhikari (he is the same guy who is @siddhivinayak on Tuesday, @mahim church wed, @mahim dargah on Thursday, and @hajiali on Friday, @mount mary on Sunday)

Read Satish Vijaykumar’s funny yet very helpful collection of 84 Things Not TO do in Bombay on Bombay Lives. If you enjoy reading this then do drop him a message – Satish Vijaykumar here. He would love to here from you.

Know certain things which should never ever be done in your city? Have tips which might be helpful to tourists and travelers in your city or town? Can write in a unusually-funny-witty manner?

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