When most people enquire, how far is Point A from Point B, they expect a response in terms of distance and kilometers. But having lived in Bombay for most of my life, I always find myself answering in terms of time. I’ve always measured distance in terms of time. 30-45 minutes on a good day, could go up to an hour and a half on a bad day. Peak time traffic is a whole other story. Units like kilometers and miles mean little to me. Such terms remind me of the class ten physics texts and CAT preparatory material, a trauma I’d rather not relive.
I often also use railway stations as my reference point. I know I’m running late if I haven’t reached Dadar by ten every morning. And I’m almost stomping my feet in disgust if I don’t reach Goregaon by eight every evening. I don’t wear a wrist watch you see. Therefore, I very conveniently ignore the fact that I might have caught a later train on a particular day and the eccentric me takes over.
Someone once tweeted something to the tune of “In Bombay, you’re not late by minutes but by trains.” Tis the story of my life.
But a train commute affords me three hours of absolute undivided attention to the self. It is time I spend either deep in thought or poring over the pages of a bestseller. Some music peps me up occasionally while some days the eyelids get heavy with sleep. The cell phone, usually ensconced in some recess of the hand bag, is checked only when I have reached my destination. Most things can wait. My world could have turned on its head but the chances of me answering the phone are slim. Ten plus years of train travel have taught me to refrain from boarding or alighting from a train/bus with cell phone and other trinkets in hand. This I have been informed is again a very Bombay trait.
This city makes me do crazy things. I’ll smile at a stranger for no apparent reason, snap at a co-passenger coz she invades my space and carry trash all the way home for the lack of a bin. I’ll stand in front of a colonial building to lose myself in its grandeur; perch myself on Marine Drive, one evening, every few months, to let the sunset caress and soothe me and trek to Haji Ali from Mahalakshmi station to glimpse the mystical and divine.
This city makes me do crazy things!