Last week I was in Mumbai, the city of dreams, the city of extremes. It’s a city where on one hand one would find billionaires living in their posh apartments and driving their high-end cars and on the other people so poor they are forced to sleep and live completely off the streets. It is a city where the tiny Ambani family lives in a 27 floor gigantic house whereas 27 members of a family live in a one bedroom slum in Dharavi.
On one particular evening, I went to South Bombay, the area which boasts of the Marine Drive and the all famous Taj Mahal hotel, to meet a friend. After a rendezvous of a couple of hours, he dropped me at the Mumbai Central station from where I had to take a Mumbai local train to Andheri.
The Mumbai Local Train
For those who are not aware of the Mumbai local train structure, let me share some light on the intricacies of the never sleeping, forever running Mumbai rails, the very lifeline of the city that never sleeps.
Mumbai local trains run across three lines:
- The Western Line
- The Central Line
- The Harbor Line
The Central and the Harbor lines originate from Mumbai CST station and go to the central and the eastern parts of the city respectively while the Western Line originates from Churchgate station and runs on the western (the sea side) of the city. Naturally, the sea side is more glamorous.
CST and Churchgate are at the Southern part of Mumbai and are 15 odd minutes away from each other.
The Western Line
If you look closely at the map of the Western Line (the Red plain and dotted lines), there are a few stations which are mentioned in Bold. These are the key stations on the line, identified based on the number of people who board and de-board the trains on any given day.
These stations are Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali, Vasai Road, and Virar.
Two types of local trains run on the Western Line. One is a slow local which goes through all stations from Churchgate to Borivali and further to Virar. The other is a fast local which runs only on the key stations mentioned above.
Roughly it takes fifty minutes to an hour for one to go from Churchgate to Andheri and an equal amount of time from Andheri to Virar. Andheri, thus falls somewhere on the center of the line.
The last piece of the puzzle is an un-documented yet widely accepted un-said rule that people who board the fast local from Churchgate to Virar are not supposed to get down at any station till Borivali. This is important to know because as a newbie, almost everyone gets lured by a fast train and makes this mistake of boarding the train to Virar with the idea of getting down at any station before Andheri.
The argument for this rule is that the people who are going to Virar are already so much in number that they don’t need those who get down at stations till Borivali. This coupled with the fact that there are enough trains for one to get down at stations till Borivali that there is no need for one to take the Virar train at the first place. The conclusion is, once you get in, even by mistake, in a Virar train to go out at say Andheri, they simply won’t let you get down from the train!
Coming back to my evening. So on that particular evening at around 1030pm, I was going from Mumbai Central to Andheri. At that odd hour, the frequency of trains reduces to around 8 minutes or so.
I could see two trains at Mumbai Central station, one was a slow local to Borilvali which would drop me to Andheri but will halt at all stations in between (there are 10 of them). The other was a fast local to Virar which would also drop me at Andheri but would halt only at 2 stations in between.
At that very moment, I had a choice to make. On one hand I had the slow local which would steadily drop me at my station without much hassle but may take more time. On the other I had the fast Virar local which would also drop me at my station with a relatively fast speed but since it’s a Virar train, there is a risk involved.
And I made the choice of going with the Virar fast. Speed and the possibility of reaching home early enticed me to the point of making the choice of getting into the fast train, despite the risk.
The journey is almost 30 minutes. Although the train was not that full as it is in the peak hours, there were enough people standing at the door area. Initially I sat but eventually I had to stand at the door area just to ensure I had a space there just in case if more people board the train at the coming two stations. I was aware of the risk and there was a constant thought of an eventual fight I would have to do at Andheri station just to de-board the train.
Although it was already 1130pm and at this odd hour it makes little sense for Virar people to fight over not letting people to get down at Andheri, there was a worrisome thought in my head about the same.
Mumbai Central to Dadar, Dadar to Bandra people at the door just didn’t move. Then as the train went towards Andheri from Bandra, more and more people began to show up at the door to get down, giving me a sense of relief that I was not the only waiting. As Andheri arrived, I jumped down from the train along with the other guys and I felt a little relieved as to get out without the need of a fight.
Interestingly, as I got down, I heard the announcement of the arrival of the same slow local that I had chosen not to board at Mumbai Central. So much for the fast train experience!
Peace of Mind
In the entire journey of 30-35 minutes, the decision that I made to get into the fast train did nothing but disturb my Peace of Mind. For the entire journey, I had to stand at the door to ensure that my exit was graceful without a fight. On the other hand if I had sat in the slow train, I would have sat down and relaxed my time with complete peace of mind. The choice that I made ensured my peace of mind, or the lack of it.
Thinking about it, I recall multiple situations where, I have made a choice which ended up disturbing me or my loved ones’ Peace of Mind. Leaving from home late for a movie so that I have to run the car fast so as to reach the mall on time, thus making everybody in the car restless is a one of those situations. Waking up late and hence getting late for office and running around the house in the morning shouting at every other person of the family and then driving fast while giving cuss words to everyone on the road is another common situation.
Can you think of a situation from your life where you made a choice which took away your peace of mind? Now think of the alternative. Was the alternative very difficult or time consuming? Would the situation have been better if you had taken the alternative?
More often than not, we end up making choices which leads to a negative disturbance of our Equilibrium of mind, hence taking away the Peace of Mind. Before making a decision it is therefore important to weigh carefully the choices that we have and go with the one which keeps oneself calm and peaceful and keeps the Equilibrium of mind in balance.