As I was struggling to make my way through the gushing, mad swarm of people, that had alighted the train, scampering and stampeding through the morass of indiscipline hooliganism, now trying to force through a jammed vortex of people, thwarting, pushing and plunging insanely towards the narrow staircase of the connecting bridge to other platforms & Mumbai local lines, each passenger & commuter, trying to get released and move towards the next path of their journeys! Mostly women start cribbing or stay in the waiting, patiently, to avoid the unruly pranks of the opportunistic mob, but no sooner some space is created, just when you think “now is the time to cross the bridge resistance free”, another train enters to a halt, impatient passengers stuffed on either sides, trying to make way to their owns destinations!!! Many a time, men land up fist fighting, some one’s ego gets awakened in between and betwixt the jungle rule, or at another the one’s descending the staircases get dashed in with those forcing to ascend!!! Funny, if we expand this scenario to larger scape of life that exactly how travelers in time are!!!!
My daily journey doesn’t end here, neither does it start here! The first pang of ache is felt, no sooner I await the train at my boarding junction where all ladies in all their coquetries and decent attires, are poised to jump into the 1st class door, long before even the train is expected, and then jam and fight each other, with all their brawns & muscles & fats, pushing through every woman who’s ready to proceed before them. And this, despite the compartment being empty, waiting in all its expanse with open arms, ready to accommodate all the ladies that are recklessly ready to nail each other lest they miss out on something…….something!!!!! But well, anxiety has become the pulse of the population here…..anxiety to be unable to catch the train on time, anxiety to be unable to get a seat while in transit in trains, anxiety to get down the train……
No sooner the train enters and halts at a station, people all poised to alight, jump and be the heroic 1st to have been able to land on the platform even before the train has halted completely!!! Those alighting are attacked by hordes of impatient, insensitive, ladies prepared to board! A tug of war can be perceived for a brief second; a bag stuck in the crowd, a woman being spindled off her path, jamming the entrance and exit with equal pressure & spooling from either sides! Pressure mounts with not a single outlet or advancement of a person, gradually a kinetic energy that absurdly gets stuck into a speedy surge into potential energy keeps escalating, and you feel like a pack of atoms & molecules all jammed together unable to move due to lack of Absolute space, mainly as all of them trying to get in 1st, block, push, and tread the rest! Suddenly one of the most powerful atom of the lot, colliding, one wall to another, kicking and bumping on another, leading to a sudden swooshing of myriads of atoms, finally holding a ground somewhere, in helter-skelter directions, with rebounding velocity, across the open compartment, trying to settle somewhere, whichever space that’s available, or if they manage to have some luxury, take a comfortable space; from the 1st in line of attack (boarding) or defense (alighting) making way. The settling effect too at times can be un-nerving, ladies thudding, pushing, deceiving, and belligerent with other ladies, to get that “one seat” and finally settling down!!! This I call as the mob dynamics in a local train!!
Once I had seen a co-traveler fall off and come under the stampede of fellow travellers, no one had offered their hands or picked her up until they got their respective seats, or had settled in their compartment; following which, after a brief sigh of relief, the ladies suddenly became aware of the co traveller’s fall and playing the good Samaritan finally asked “whether she was alright”! Until then, each of them were absolutely immune, and in a scurry flurry race to get a seat, whereupon their primal instincts had superseded the humane concern for a fellow being!! This I call the psyche or the “mob mentality”!
This is a tryst, day in and day out; and an ordeal to go through, the enemies being the ladies themselves! Mind you, I am citing an example and a scenario of ladies compartment, but this is worse in men’s compartment!! Fist fights, verbal bravados & hooting and hooliganism in the garb of decency is a common sight and expectation every day!
And amongst these fellow traveller beings, making a respectable way through the throngs is an impossible task indeed! Men entering the entrance of the stairs from left side, women waiting patiently till their turn comes, some brave folks who think they are leading the mob, shout, hoot or motivate others or just merely push through!! Some men take advantage of the crowd and may pinch the bun of woman, and there follows an irate ranting and swearing from the woman!!!
The feeling while getting through this crowd for sure is not nice, it makes a human being devaluated! The people who push and kick and behave aggressive are all common folks, some in business attire, some others are god fearing, some are opportunists and some others are devils in disguise!!! It’s a sickening feeling to know that although the same woman who doesn’t care to stamp another woman in the pursuit of a seat, later as she is settled reads a bible, or Hanuman chalisa or a Ramayana brief. Strange to know the dynamics of this mob, literate folks, claim to be educated, behaving like animals, the scene turns suddenly into a war zone or a jungle rule of Darwin on Survival of the fittest!
Strange to know that every human being has now learnt to ‘devalue’ themselves while travelling in these locals of Mumbai by allowing themselves to be pushed, pinched, caught in a vortex of aggressiveness, indiscipline and disregard! Discipline and respect are amiss somewhere, to neighbours or fellow humans or to oneself! People have become immune to verbal combats but on an extreme some others have become used to spitting out spite at even a mere “excuse me” or a poke! These are dead people who vent out their frustrations at each other, or themselves or at their friends, neighbours, work peers, and anyone that crosses their path for that matter!!! No sooner they come off this frazzle, they brush off the devaluation and get back to their daily routines or rather their facades!
What is it that stops people in being more sensitive and caring in a mob situation? Why does it get worse? When we are solo and our visibility is stark for all to see, we use the best of our images for people to see and best of our mannerisms and etiquettes!!! But no sooner, one becomes unknown and sunk into the crowd of the face known but as “mob”, that same person gets swooped and swooned into the force & speech of the mob!!!
The bigger question that I pose here is, whether should we create respect, discipline and sensitivity in a society by eliminating the mob mentality, or should we live within the mob and create a conscious effort to be mindful of the person just next to us!!!! Part of the problem has evolved due to lack of spaces and travel comforts, but try taking a closer peak at some other multitudinous facets and aspects of “human devaluations” in our daily lives- female feticide, gang rape and rape, child abuse and child labor, selling a child or an organ for 5000 INR, manipulations and the greed!!! It would not be wrong here to say that actually, and technically, and even psychologically for that matter that “human devaluations have stemmed from blatant greed” – nothing but GREED!