The Seat Mafia of Mumbai Locals


The Seat Mafia of Mumbai Locals

Illustration: Mudit Ganguly


etting into the 7.24 am Churchgate-bound local at Nallasopara is like getting a deep tissue massage from a bunch of sweaty men, instead of the usual hot (Asian) masseuse. Inside, everybody seems fused into one homogenous mass that doesn’t want you in it. Your options are limited to either cramming yourself into any available space, or hanging on for dear life on the footboard of the train.

I wanted neither, so following friendly advice, I used the “ulta chado” system. Literally translated, it means climbing on backwards. Sounds crazy, right? What it actually means is taking a train going in the opposite direction, and riding on it back to your destination. This way, the trains are less crowded and you stand a fair chance of actually getting a seat. This quest for achieving 100 per cent ass-to-seat contact rather than the usual 50 per cent or lesser might seem daft. But hey, welcome to Mumbai.