The burbie hick goes into town

Given in the past five years, my entire life has rotated around the suburbs with the thought of going beyond Bandra necessitating overnight bags being packed and fond goodbyes with hugs and tears exchanged, you might surmise rightly that I have not ventured forth beyond the boundary of my cosy suburban cocoon. Yup. There have been thrills in town. The Trident has a shopping arcade that the drooling caused can help me swab a ship with. Fashion Street is fashion street for nostalgia. Though I dont think hopping around and counting out petty change and begging the vendors to give it to us at the odd figure we have left with us would cut any ice now.

So it came to pass that I needed to go into town. In the good old days I went into town everyday. I worked in town and this was a non negotiable if I needed to pay my bills and not live on the streets. Therefore I woke, bathed, and ran. To the bus to the station and from there jump into the first Borivali return fast, grab a window seat and doze off happily. Havent seen the inside of a train for a good decade now I think, and survival skills on a local train have been reduced to zilch. There was a time when I could jump into a train pulling into the Churchgate station and run to grab a seat, and I tell you, this was done with four inch stilletoes on most days. Any person who can do that is instantly eligible for a commando course. The skill levels are beyond the pale of the ordinary person. Precise hand eye and foot coordination, agility, dexterity, manoevering skills, and strong strong arms to shove aside other contenders for window seats. Or dammit. Any seats. I dont think things have improved much over the years. Its been years since I got into a local train railway station but I see the crowds spilling out as I pass them and the old twitch to be allowed to push and shove and yell and fight comes to the fore. In my hey day I could have given them fishmongers a run for their money when it came to putting up a fight. With appropriate yelling and gesticulating and some pushing and shoving too. Yup. I travelled first class too. This was not the junta dabba.

Ah, for the good old days. But then one was young. And the joints well oiled. And the backbone unpierced with epidural and therefore prone on giving up on me in mid jump. Would I dare do that now? Nah. I’m chicken. I have the driver on speed dial. And will now condescend to move from pavement to road to car. This also probably explains why the butt is on a growathon.

Had to go into town for a couple of meetings for Indiahelps yesterday. I almost took out my overnighter and packed in food, change of clothes and shoes, a night suit, and some bottles of water. And of course, a torch, some energy bars, a first aid kit, etc. Seriously though, the trip into town was a jiffy. I was going to Colaba for the first time since 26/11. Part of me wanted to take a recce through the spots the terrorists unleashed terror at. The Taj, the Trident, Leopold, Cama Hospital, CST. The more practical side of me looked at traffic and my predeliction to collapse into unseemly loud sobbing in public situations and begged me to stick to the agenda. Didnt want the nice bright young girl accompanying me to the meetings to shrivel in horror at my unseemly behavior.

I did however revisit an old haunt, Gaylords and drank some lousy bathwater coffee there. Which instead of squashing my four oclock coffee withdrawal symptoms smacked me with a double load migraine and nausea to boot. Their chicken kathi roll however saved the day and the head, and I was human again. I am pleased to announce I was Very Very Good and did not hover for more than even a moment extra near the pastry and cake counter.

Meetings done, I had the arduous task of the drive back home. I left at 6.30pm. I reached home at 9.30 pm. Feeling like I could have gone to Pune and back and felt fresher for it. Seriously, the train would have been a better bet. If only I could rustle up the courage to do the jump in jump out push shove shout scream elbow routine again.

The best thing about the entire trip? A pair of funky canary yellow Kolhapuris the lovely Serendipity gifted me. Maybe I could jump into some trains if I wear these now.


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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16 Responses to The burbie hick goes into town

  1. batul says:

    travelling from south mumbai to the burbs is definitely a nightmare…

    My 2 traffic nightmare were on Diwali day this year itself, 3 hours each way to attend a wedding…

    And you are on my blog roll…



  2. mandira says:

    i used to work in town too- in that lovely place called kala ghoda… i now work at andheri and i hate the place… andheri has no character. and i used to travel by trains earlier…and as cramped and suffocating as they were i used to lorrve them!

    I prefer them over the road, but now have developed a fear of crowds. So it becomes a nightmare for me to venture into a railway station. Its funny how the body and self gets itself cossetted.


  3. Sunita says:

    I was in bbay recently for a certification. The thought of getting into and out of the locals was giving me sleepless nights than the exam itself. And to think I took the 6:30am and 6:30pm virar locals 12-13 years back daily makes me want to award myself.

    You know things were better then. Its really bad these days. I think commuters fight the levels of mini wars everyday just to reach work and get home.


  4. Chips says:

    This post brings about a wave of nostalgia. I travelled in the reverse direction, from Churchgate to Borivli, for almost 5 years. I had to master the skill of getting off without being dragged to Virar!! Managed to study for 2 certification courses while travelling – must have looked like an absolute nerd! Don’t think I could do the train travel again.

    I think we’ve all become chicken. ;p


  5. Kiran says:

    OOh nice, I used to work in Colaba long time back, there was a cafe there – Sunshine cafe, they made the best chicken frankies..mmmm….

    Anyhoo, even now when I visit India, I still buy a first class pass sometimes and travel by train during the non office hours, its quicker, faster and less air pollution :))



  6. just realised that you (or anyone else for that matter) may live in andheri and not like my calling it a place with “no character”… i said that to express how nothing in andheri really stands out..unlike town… andheri is just lots of traffic,tall office buildings,developed in an unplanned way…at least andheri e is that way..

    Almost all of the non island city is without character. No one taking offence here. I agree absolutely.


  7. NainaAshley says:

    I know what you mean. I used to travel by train to Nariman point more than a decade ago. Now even the thought of local train scares me but travelling by car is equally bad. In one of my previous trips I decided to go to the colaba area by car and got caught in such horrible traffic that gave me severe headache and nausea. So this time I decided to stick to my suburb(of course not having a driver and not daring to drive in b’bay played into that decision too).

    Went through that the other day. Splitting headache, nausea, traffic for three hours bumper to bumper and no lunch and bad coffee. Uff….I’m not going back until I have to.


  8. Abha says:

    so, we did do the right thing by chickening out when we had to move back to Mumbai and M took a lower paying but bangalore based job! :p

    when i came to Mumbai two weeks ago, i guess it was holiday season and we didnt excatly travel peak hours. so cab rides werent all that bad. showed Cubby what a real city is like. boating at gateway, walk on marine drive, shopping at Colaba. oh its gorgeous!

    but this could be a nostlagic then Mumbaikar, not visits as a tourist person talking! :p

    and next yime, please eat your lunch! 😀



  9. punarjanman says:

    You know, whenever I visit the burbs from town when I am visiting India, I try and use the trains now (during off peak hours of course), the traffic is just insane. All my friends in the burbs…and I always compalin to them it’s like visiting another country because of the traffic!


  10. OMG did someone mention Frankies at Colaba??????

    Be still my heart… I miss my old haunts.

    Frankies at the takeout place outside Cusrow Baug and then shopping for chappals on Causeway, dropping into the Bank Of India branch for more money, a trip to Rasulbhai Adamji (I think that was the name) for a nice leather bag, Bulchands for tight, tight jeans, dream window shopping for books at Nalanda and meeting up with friends at Shamiana for a coffee (on the offchance that we were feeling flush with funds). That is what Saturday afternoons were made of! Leopolds was a run down irani place, only for the hippie goras, and wanna be’s (which we were actually hehehehe).

    Fashion street was just starting up then, so we bought cheap export reject t shirts from the sidewalk outside Sahakari Bhandar.

    Does any of that still exist? And where exactly is this Fashion street now?

    Local trains… I challenge myself that on my next trip I will still be able to enter and exit one in one peice. I used to take one in the opposite direction to visit sundry boyfriends in IIT (when it was still a wilderness and I was a super geek who only ever was able to snag bespectacled but adorable geeky boyfriends).

    Mumbai meri jaan!


  11. Priyanka says:

    Kiran, this is very funny – I was going to do a post on how I have “finallly” started using the Mumbai local now (It took more than a couple of years for this new Mumbaikaar to screw up courage to step into one during rush hour). Turns out its not as bad as I had imagined… I had imagined all kinds of terrible things and a week into using the local, have had nothing to warrant me having nightmares. Oh, I know, I might get into it sometime soon, till then, I am optimistic. Always used to travel to South Mumbai by train on non-working, non-peak hours (read un-godly hours like noon or 3 pm) as hubby obstinately refuses to lend the car on my excursions after his terrible experience of being stuck in traffic for nearly three and a half hours!!
    You can definitely travel first class towards South Bombay on weekends between 12-3 without fear. Though, I wouldn’t recommend it if ‘the brat ‘ is going to accompany you!! 🙂


  12. Serendipity says:

    Bathwater Coffee!!! hahahha!! 🙂


  13. Pingback: Train pain « Churningthewordmill

  14. hey kiran, i linked to ya!


  15. Manpreet says:

    Absolutely hilarious account.
    Bathwater coffee and swab a ship, such unique expressions.
    Landed from Mandira’s. I sometimes come over to ur blog and at times i lose the link.
    Lemme blogroll u and then forget about forgetting to come to ur blog.

    Manpreet: Honoured!


  16. Sameera Nandi says:

    Makes me feel all nostalgic about “Town”. You have described the local train “getting in ..getting out” so well. And you have been GOOD..Gaylords and didnt have the cake ! Cheers..Sam


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