In a city like Mumbai, it is uncommon to pause. Forget pausing for a minute, even a second is precious for every Mumbaikar. Especially for those who take the daily local for work or business, every split second makes a difference.
Ask those who wait earnestly at the platform for more than twenty minutes on an average in the hopes to catch a relatively less crowded local with breathable space to Churchgate station.
Ask those at Borivali station's crowded platform number 4 who scramble inside the very second the 8.47 am local slows down to ten kilometer per hour.
(Glimpse of Andheri station during peak travel hours. Image source: www.mumbai77.com )
Yet a midst this daily routine cacophony, post the scramble to get in the train, the 30 second halt, the seat reservation post Dadar, the 4th seat buttock adjust, the footover board space negotiation and the local leaving the platform is the phase when an unsuspecting commuter meets his fate - falls off the train.
If one is lucky, falls on the platform but is up and about within a second. If unlucky, falls on the tracks with bruises and blisters.
I met with such fate once. It was a 6.36 pm evening Borivali local from Andheri on a rainy July.
I wasn't hanging on the footover board or hanging off the train. I was trying to board the train in the huge crowd of ladies gathered in the second class ladies compartment and within a split second I slipped and - fortunately for me - fell on the platform number one of Andheri station.
Such was the impact of my fall, that I hurt my knee in the process.
That 1 second cost me my train, but would've cost me limbs.
I took time to gather my senses. Panting, I did what anybody hurt would do - gather my belongings.
Then I checked my knee, there was a scratch. No major damage. Silent thanks to God.
When I got up, I was helped by 2 sets of strangers. And was asked if I was okay. I mumbled something, I do not recall. And was helped to a bench on the platform and offered water.
I refused, after all they were strangers.
I touched my knee and realised the I had hurt it so grimaced at the pain. One of the strangers, a lady advised me to go to the station master's cabin and get first-aid. I refused initially whilst flexing my knee to account the damage but then agreed when she thoughtfully insisted.
All this time I notice others on the platform waiting for a train staring at me constantly.
I got up, with some help and walked to the station master's cabin. The station master was there, sitting nonchalant. My strangers asked for some first aid for me. He enthusiastically helped us with some pain relief spray for my knee which I insisted on applying.
Feeling alright and relieved with the pain balm, I made sure I thanked the strangers and left for home in the next local. When I reached home I narrated this story to my parents, were in awe like me.
I said a silent prayer to those strangers who helped me at that opportune moment.
This whole event that transpired left me with a feeling of optimism. It was just so surreal.
Surreal because, we get to read such negative reporting in the newspapers of commuters being left on their own and the railway force's apathy. Thankfully, this was nothing serious, but I was left in awe that there are people still left in this city who are not apathetic towards other's problems.
It left me with an optimistic note, full of hope that Mumbai has not lost it's heart.
This is one story that made me #lookup to life's optimistic moments