Friday, February 10, 2012

The hands from the trains

From 'Bombay, Meri Jaan - Writings on Mumbai', Edited by Jerry Pinto & Naresh Fernandes, Penguin 2004.

"Asad, of all people, has seen humanity at its worst. I asked him if he felt pessimistic about the human race.

"Not at all", he replied. "Look at all the hands from the trains."

If you are late for work in Bombay, and reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, you can run up to the packed compartments and you will find many hands stretching out to grab you on board, unfolding outward from the train like petals. As you run alongside you will be picked up, and some tiny space will be made for your feet on the edge of the open doorway. The rest is up to you...

And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand that is reaching theirs belongs to a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Brahmin or untouchable or whether you were born in the city or arrived only this morning or whether you live in Malabar Hill or Jogeshwari; whether you are from Bombay or Mumbai or New York. All they know is that you're trying to get to the city of gold, and that's enough. Come on board, they say. We'll adjust."

(Excerpt from a review, I have not yet read the book -

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