Monday: Familiar with numerous stories of failed attempts before, Rohan was a bit skeptical of whether he would really be able to make it. He knew this was the fastest route. Quick, yes but would it be smooth? He was soon going to find out.He had done his homework. He punched his coupons and with steady steps began the climb. But this is exactly when it was all beginning to hit him.
As he began the climb to get to Platform Number 2, he felt he had migrated to another planet altogether. It felt like being in a circus- you just didn't know where the next big trick was going to come from or from whom. Men with their bags & newspapers speeding by, cobblers with that rhythmic sales pitch of knocking their brush with on the ground and suddenly out of nowhere, the clamor of bells and sounds of people singing bhajans on a train that just zipped by- all of it seemed like perfectly oiled parts of the biggest automated machine in the world.
He stood there on the platform with nervous eyes. He clutched his laptop as the train approached. He was told he just had to follow the crowd. The train slowed and suddenly in the midst of a hundred armpits bang under his nose, he got where very few mortals manage on the very first day of taking a train- his left foot was on the train. He balanced himself and held the pole with one hand. His right foot was in the air but he was there. Until this one pull came so hard at him, that in a split second he found himself with both his feet, back on the platform !
The train was a distant sight by now.
Tuesday: He still couldn't get in.
Unlike yesterday, he went to Jogeshwari by rickshaw and tried getting into the fast local from there. Goregaon, he was told that day by his colleagues at work, was near impossible unless he travelled back to Borivali. Today again though, he didn't have a chance.They had said Jogeshwari might be 'relatively' easier to get in.The train was gone in the blink of an eye. Relatively speaking, he couldn't even figure today if this better or worse.
He waited for one more train to come into the station. The next one was even worse.He didn't even want to attempt it. Yesterday, it had taken him over two hours to get to Nariman Point by road but he had no choice.He stepped out of the station in a hurry and asked for a rick to Bandra.
Wednesday: He started off early and reached the Goregaon station at 7:20 a.m. He knew the odds that he had to beat by now.Something told him, he would beat the odds today. He felt in good nick. There were not as many people at the station today as at 8:20. This was a good enough reason. To make things easier, he had left his laptop at office too. Things seemed to click- he felt like a part of the crowd. He saw the old electronic sign right above his head. "F" , "7:29", it read. If the previous 2 days seemed like a bitter struggle, today seemed a struggle alright but a sweeter one. He floated through the crowd and no sooner than he realised, he was IN !
"We are the champions"- the song ran through this head. He smiled. He almost giggled to himself. Sweet !
Fifteen minutes later, a radio set crackled far away in Dahisar: " Abhi abhi khabar mili hain ki aaj savere kareeben saade saat baje, Mumbai mein, paanch trainon mein..."