Travelling in Mumbai after midnight is totally different from travelling during the day. Other than the wee hours, all other hours, without even a bit of doubt can easily be categorized as “peak hours”. Last night, I insisted that I used public transport to ensure that I did not cross my day’s budget. And with public transport I mean only bus and train. No cab. No rickshaw.
I boarded the 12:05am train from Dadar and there were exactly nine women in the ladies compartment. But during the day, this will never be the case. You may say, people travel during the day and take rest at night. I don’t deny it either! I’m just comparing the scenario as even I travel during peak hours as well as wee hours.
Firstly, one would feel that the train stops for more than 15 seconds at each station, but the fact is that it stops for the same time. 15 seconds! The only problem is that, in the day, there are so many people waiting to enter and exit from that wide train door, that there is no time to even think of how long the train will stop for.
Secondly, the lady with the sexy voice announcing the next station can be heard even when your ears are plugged and your music is loud enough to burst your eardrums. But during the day, it is difficult to even get what she says because of the crowd and chaos in the train. Post midnight, no one can miss their respective stations.
Third, post eleven O’clock, every ladies compartment in every train has one policeman who stands near the door guarding all the women. I somehow feel safe when I see a policeman inside the coach.
This was about the train. Next I go to the bus stop and there is no bus, but the TT on asking conveyed that there was a bus that would take me to Kalina. For a moment I called my self “blessed amongst men” as I could not see a single woman around. And to my bad luck, there was no woman in the bus I took either. I repeatedly told myself that there was nothing to worry. I quietly entered the bus and occupied the ladies seat. No man dared to even sit beside me. I definitely didn’t look scary!
What was worth observing during the bus journey was that despite no much traffic on the road, the bus still halted when the signal turned red. It was also strange that, during the day, some buses do not stop at certain places because the bus is overcrowded, but post midnight, the conductor in their bell language would tell the driver that he can go ahead, there is no one to either get off at this stop, nor is anyone there to enter.
A wee hour journey can be spooky when you are surrounded by so many men. But, what really matters is whether you can tell men that you are no more the weak one in the society. Men do stare at you like they’ve never seen a woman before, but again; I close my eyes and pray rather than initiating any kind of conversation. The conversation could very much begin in my mind!