“Aapko kahaan utarna hai?”
A conversation of this kind with an absolute stranger won’t make any sense till the time you are sitting in a II class Mumbai local train. The system carries more than 6.1 million commuters on a daily basis and constitutes more than half of the total daily passenger capacity of the Indian Railways itself. It has the highest passenger density of any urban railway system in the world.
And trust me, mutual understanding can’t get better. The nods are an agreement saying – ‘After you get down at Chembur, your seat is mine.’
I used to find it silly. Why not simply sit when a person leaves? Why tell her? Why ask him?
But one is a fool to think so. You will probably be beaten up if you sit without ‘booking’ it with the ‘lender’ beforehand as someone else would have already done so. Sitting on someone else’s booked seat would be a crime bigger than land encroachment in Kerala.
Approaching a (sitting) prospect is like approaching a super-hit movie ticket vendor on a Saturday night. Most probably sold out. Most probably booked. But we thrive on hope. For all you know she may be your fairy god mother, she may be your lender. Getting a lender is as good as getting a PPO. There is assurance. There is security. There is neighbor’s envy. There is owner’s pride.
I call all of them survivors. If you drink only mineral water and always used dad’s car for school, you probably don’t understand
So what does one standing survivor say to another?
“Aapko mila (lender)?”
“Toh phir, Aapko kahaan utarna hai?”