Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Night train

The 11:55pm Andheri train was late, but the people milling on Mumbai Central's platform No. 1 were oblivious to the lost time. Some were absorbed in a game of cards between shawl-wrapped men with no train to catch. Some stared into the vacant space Mumbai nights create for the late traveller. Others, like the man who took care to not step on cracks between tiles, went about doing the very things that would have suffered from an absence of space a few hours ago. Even opening up a newspaper wide can be an unfamiliar act during the day. But at night, aha, at night liberties are taken, and satisfaction derived from the understanding that the space we thirst for daily is so easily available after the crowds return home.

Then, close to midnight, it arrived with a rattle and a burst of cool air. When it came to a halt, there was no frentic rush for seats. But habits don't die, and I ran for a window seat anyway. The last traces of winter in Mumbai are worth the fight. Enjoy, boy, enjoy the wind, this cool here-today-gone-tomorrow wind that whips across your face, making your eyes water, easing you into a deep sleep, because when it leaves, one more season will have passed, leaving you older and wondering where the winter went.

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