It's that time of the year when TVs are switched off, malls and restaurant are neglected, temples become crowded, and the atmosphere turns grim. It's exam-time. Parents exchange notes with teachers and other parents to check if their son/daughter is well-prepared. Nerves go a notch higher. The student, actually is pretty cool until he/she is dragged onto this panic train. And suddenly this cool dude feels the pressure which otherwise would have handled it quite well in his/her own style. The number game begins. Every other person becomes your competitor, ready to pounce on that vacant, precious seat with an extra mark. Because of this funny system, rather than nourishing and nurturing the knowledge the education is dumped on your brain. You are not what you would love to be but become what others prefer you to be. With time, cirumstances change, but the game continues.
First time I commuted by train to go to work, was in 1989. The train I boarded, started from Andheri station at 7:47 A.M.(so it was called 7:47 Andheri local). On my first day, I was flooded with 'stranger-stares' by the regular office-goers. I found my newspaper and the ceiling fans in the train, more comforting. These daily travelers sensed my uneasiness. And after a week of commuting by the same train, I was adopted by this tribe. Soon I found myself cracking silly jokes, discussing sports, listening to business and politics, sharing movie gossips and occasionally; singing. The train journey took about 45 minutes. Some guys read, some dozed. Some just blabbered like us. We addressed each other with our 'train pet names'. Almost all of us were from different professions. Sometimes our intense talks led to heated arguments and then to quarrels. But, like in all husband-wife fights; nobody bothered solving them.
We were like a big family. Twice in year we all went out for dinner at some restaurant. Basically to get drunk and let ourselves loose.
Years zipped by. Commuters changed, fashions changed, our talks changed. But life in the train remained the same.
Never did I imagine that I would be travelling by the same train for the next twenty years or so.