Railway Station as Public Space: Bandra (Local)
Duration: 00:18:18; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 15.635; Saturation: 0.045; Lightness: 0.380; Volume: 0.139; Cuts per Minute: 34.739
Summary: Bandra Railway Station is one of the busiest junctions in Mumbai. From here you can take trains to the Western and the Harbor lines and go to any other station on the vast Mumbai lines and therefore the crowd here consists of people from all over Mumbai, and from all sections of the society. The station also forms the distinguishing point between the Mumbai suburbs and the city. Most of the citizens of this “long” city choose to use public transportation for their everyday travel, and hence these railway tracks form the backbone of this metropolis. Mumbai's suburban rail systems carry estimatedly 2.2 billion passengers every year.
Every Mumbaikar has their own unique experience and perspective of these trains and stations. Here you will see the famous “dabba walas” (lunchbox carriers) carrying hundreds of “dabbas” to offices all over or fisherwomen carrying fish in their “tokris” (basket), traveling side by side with the white collar office-goers and the college students. The unique concoction of sounds, smells and people that you will see here, will be found nowhere else. The Mumbai trains carry millions of people to work, college and back home daily and it is here that most of us build our tolerance to and understanding of this city. To me, the Mumbai trains are a lot more than just a means of transportation; they are a means of socializing, slogging, growing up, entertainment, escape and plain observation. An average Bombayite probably spends about an hour every week at a railway station, waiting for their train or trying to get into one; it’s part of the daily grind. In this clip we will see just that, a Bombay railway station right after rush hour, around 11 am because even our cameras would have refused to shoot in the middle of Bandra station rush hour!
The Bandra station captures the true essence of this city and represents Bombay in its entirety: a metropolis.
The Bandra station over bridge. Mumbai- a city of thirteen million bobbing heads. In the midst of the surreal crowd and commotion, a piece of comprehensible reality – a woman holding her baby.
The 11 am crowd is a comparatively relaxed one. Women sauntering, speaking into their cell phones or men waiting for their trains or just passing time, chewing "tambaccoo" (tobacco).
A shot of a train going towards north Mumbai. The bogies are comparatively empty as the train is moving against the office rush. The south end of the railway line is Chuchgate which carry people to the business district of Nariman point and fort, flora fountains, ballard estate, ballard pier, bhendi bazzar, Mohd,. Ali road, chor bazaar etc. the Northern end goes to the thickly populated suburbs of Andheri, Borivali, Virar etc. Another train pulls in, this one going towards South Mumbai. Our quintessential Mumbai "heroes" prefer to hang out of the train; one more thing glamourized by Bollywood cinema.
Mohd. Ali road
Are you in or are you out? The boy in the yellow t-shirt represents the story of every novice traveler in these trains. The descending crowd has pushed him out of the train and since then he fails to get into in any train in spite of desperate attempts. Well, in need of severe training to develop the skill of train commuting in Mumbai. Two weeks of this and the same boy will be one of the "pushers".
An overhead shot of a train pulling into the station. Hordes of men pushing their way into the train breaking the rule "don't start getting in before they are out".
The democratic, tolerant railway stations don't distinguish among gender, class or religions. Of course, like every other place, there are eve teasers but every veteran female traveler has mastered the art of beating them up. When terrorist bombings on the trains occurred (07.11.06), it killed people of all religions. It is easy to communalize neighbourhoods, but not the trains.
Commuters are ascending and descending from the stairs. They walk out of the footbridge, "into the great wide open" and merge into the blazing city.
Another train lazily pulls into the station, which is now comparatively less populated. There is no pushing or fighting; people skillfully dodge each other and get into the train. Schoolgirls in uniform and college students make their way out.
post rush hour
Commuters play the favourite Mumbai game – spot the train. Standing on the foot over bridge, they try to locate the far away train and guess whether it would be go to the fast train (the ones which skip minor stations) platform or to the slow train (the ones which stop at every station). The crowd runs down to the platform once they know which one the train is going to.
A boy runs into the moving train, while two others jump out.
Shot of the platform from inside the train. Sometimes you push others to get in, and sometimes you hold out your hand and let others in. That is what a metropolis is all about, physically and metaphorically.