There is a thin ridge running along the top of Mumbai locals that is put there for the primary purpose of letting the rainwater wash off along the front and back of the compartment during the monsoons. The primary purpose that it has ended up serving is a hand grip for the tons of people who travel by the door. There are many signs on a Mumbai local - there is a map of all the stations, a bunch of ads, a list of things not allowed on a local (mostly inflammables), a list of numbers to call during a railway emergency, and a bit of unintentional poetry - to stop train pull chain. There is also a sign that says leaning out of the EMU can be dangerous and even fatal, and it reads in three languages, accompanied by a graphic of people leaning out with a big cross on it. That does not alleviate the benefits of getting off at the next station in ease, or the sensation of the wind in your face as the city flies by. During peak hours, there is no real choice, you are forced to find any foothold you can get, and that is when people hang on to the ridge running along the top for their dear lives. During the monsoons however, things get better, there is the rain biting in your face, and your feet are on slippery ground.
The rain ran off the corrugated sheeting on the top of the station, forming a curtain of water on either side of the platforms. The sky was overcast and grey, a dull and cloaked sun shone through somewhere, keeping the weather hot and humid. The crows could no longer hunt for rats along the tracks, and hid beneath the rafters. The men and women waited impatiently for the next train to come. A flurry of activity followed the announcement of the train. Backpacks were slung down the stomach, belts were tightened, a few pallus and dupattas were adjusted, spectacles placed more firmly on the nose, and newspapers folded up and put neatly into briefcases. The train arrived, sprinkling a jet of water on the commuters. There were those who had seen over ten monsoons of the same thing at the same place. And there were those who were getting onto a Mumbai local for the first time. The second last compartment attracted a large crowd - it was the closest to the bridge for many, and for the others, it was the only one in a long line of ladies compartments. The hustle and the bustle and the pushing and the shoving went one way for the first fifteen seconds, and then suddenly reversed direction in a flurry of shouts and swears. A few elbows got wedged, a few feet got trod upon, and a few noses smashed into their faces, everyone who had the guts to make it was in, and the rest had to lean out of the compartment. No one took the trouble to read the sign.
The train started to move before the people had stopped piling in. They stopped only when it caught speed, and headed towards the next station. Five people were leaning out of the train. The first was in a comfortable position, his briefcase at his feet, and his hands firmly on a bar. He had a faded shirt on, and jeans with some oriental looking markings all over it. The man behind him was sharing a hanger with someone standing inside the train, had a blue pinstriped shirt with a logo of a company on it. The one behind him had the security of a thick, sturdy, vertical rod, right in the middle of the entrance, and he was secured to it with his elbow. He had a brown shirt on, and trousers, and seemed to be enjoying the rain. Behind him was a man who had turned his back to the door and was trying his best not to lean out. He was one of the few who had not abandoned the effort to stay dry. The last one, could barely find a foothold. Both his hands were holding on to the ridge outside, and he was wet down to his socks. He wore shirt that had red pinstripes, his sleeves were rolled up, tucked inside brown trousers with a leather belt that had a buckle with the BMW logo on it. He had black shoes on, with worn out soles, and he was urging for the mass of people to tuck themselves further into the train. Even if someone wanted to listen to him, they couldn't.
The next station drew up on the other side of the train. This led to some relief for those leaning out, and the fourth man in the row even managed to squeeze himself in and escape the rain completely. His back was wet, and the shirt clung to him, wrinkling over in places and dripping a bit, but that was the least of any one's worries. A beggar had wandered onto the tracks, and a train was coming from the other direction. Effectively, the beggar was trapped between the two trains, and the people along the sides started shouting for him to duck and sit down between the two trains. Most stations on the line have a gutter, and if you sit across it, the trains just pass over you leaving you unhurt. The commotion distracted the last man in line. He concentrated on the beggar instead of holding himself more securely. The beggar had the good sense to duck, probably having done that a thousand times before, the approaching train gave out a huge blasting horn that hurt a few eardrums as it rushed past in a Doppler. The beggar was safe, but a wave of people piling in at the station, pushed those who were leaning further out. A young boy took the place of the fourth person, and braved the rain. The train gave out a loud horn, and started. The beggar looked up at a rush of feet and a streak of brownish-red, as the train left the station. Once it had gone, he picked up the plastic bottle that would earn him a few paise, put it in his sack, and climbed onto the platform, and disappeared into a multitude.
The people inside the train were still shifting and adjusting themselves. The next platform was coming out on the side of the five people in question. The pressure of those who wanted to alight built up inside the train. Only four knew how to handle the strain. The fifth one, the last in line, tried to get a little more of his foot in, and someplace to hold onto inside the train. He shifted his weight before his hands had found a firm grip inside. The only sound he made was a grunt, and the thump of his knuckles hitting the outside of the train. A second or so later, there was an empty place with a swinging handle that had just been beyond the nameless guy's reach. A second after that, somebody had moved up to take the recently vacated space.