There are few things in life more stress-inducing than a sea of cross people pushing and elbowing their way through a train station.
And yet it is this sound of tutting and passive aggressive ‘excuse mes’ which so often bookmark the beginning and end of the working day.
For those travelling on public transport, the daily commute will leave you flustered yet ferocious, bruised yet brash.
A warrior on wheels, you will learn to hold your breath during carriage-filling farts, and roll your eyes forcefully when the woman next to you screeches down her phone at 6.30am.
And yet, in all my years squished against sticky windows on the Greater Manchester Metrolink service, I have never suffered anything quite like the scenes captured during a commute in Mumbai.
On 7 July, 27-year-old Nikhil Bhosle headed to Thane station in Mumbai to drop off a friend who needed to catch a train.
However, they were greeted by an intense rush-hour crush which made it impossible for the friend to even set foot on the platform. It was then Nikhil decided to film the extraordinary sight, giving an insight into the reality of commuting, Mumbai-style.
You can watch the agoraphobia-inducing scenes for yourself below:
Insurance firm worker Nikhil explained:
After two trains passed, I thought of filming the stunning crowd.
In the footage, countless female commuters can be seen swarming towards the women’s compartment door before the train even stops moving.
Once the train stops, the women exiting the carriage struggle forwards onto the platform as those waiting to board charge their way to the open door. A few even cannot shove their way out and are forced to stay on past their stop.
Some women hoping to board are left helplessly pushed and pulled around in the tide of frantic commuters. Others know there would be no chance in forcing their way through the solid block of bodies, hanging back and hoping to get their spot next time.
According to Nikhil, ‘long route’ trains bound for Karjat and Khopoli create comparable crushes during peak times.
Fortunately for Nikhil, he is able to dodge the headache of the train commute, explaining:
I live close to my office and I ride a bike.
Nikhil’s friend was eventually able to make her trip, however the pair were reportedly waiting for quite some time until she could catch herself a place on a train:
We waited for a few trains to pass. After 9th or 10th train, the crowd subsided a little and she managed to get in.
What a palaver. Unfortunately, Nikhil’s stressful drop-off is a far from rare occurrence.
Almost 22 million people live Mumbai, which is the financial capital of India. The public transport system has infamously failed to keep up with the population explosion, creating serious issues for frustrated commuters.
Travelled in a local train from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to Matunga in Mumbai and met all women staff at Matunga station. Impressive to see how women staff handle the overall operations of the busy Matunga station with promising and positive results. pic.twitter.com/YknqJTJpQO
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) January 21, 2018
Back in October 2017, The BBC’s Kinjal Pandya-Wagh spoke about her experiences of travelling on Mumbai’s local trains:
Another challenge is that people have to board trains before they stop.
I always timed my jump, leaping inside the coach and grabbing the handle of the door or the arm of another commuter to steady myself. If I am lucky enough to find a seat, I feel a sense of accomplishment.
How you feel about such gruelling train travel depends on how you think about it. You could either love it or you could hate it.
It’s taught me to be more tolerant and patient. These journeys bring people from different backgrounds together every day and they share a common goal: they want to reach their destination on time and alive.
If u wonder how this busy city of Mumbai s called the city of dreams.take the night train once from Churchgate to Borivali #MumbaiDreams
— Pratik Bhakta (@PratikBhaktaET) October 28, 2017
Do you think you could handle this ultimate commute experience?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.