I'd luckily landed in 2006, the year following the worst monsoon disaster. When on the road in some of the low lying areas, colleagues would suddenly point towards an impossible looking height on some landmark, and say "the water reached up there", sounding very prophet like. To a cynical me, at that point in time, they all looked as real as the biblical Noah. Having come from the north-east, which i knew faced rains much more than any other part in the country, i assumed monsoons here would be a walk in the park.
The local system in Mumbai is acknowledged to be one of the most complex functional networks in the world. Trains start, pass-through, and end at a bewildering number of stations and junctions on a tight schedule. Though there only exist two directions of travel (north-south), start and end points of trains vary. On my way back from work at Malad, I typically travel till Andheri and it was on one such journey that my train on reaching Andheri was designated to ply on the opposite direction as a "Virar Local". That meant the platform at which i would alight in would be teeming with passengers rushing in to board the train.
My compartment was crowded and I tried to make room and head towards the exit. Surprisingly, i noticed no one else bothered to move from their places and head towards the exit even though the last platform was approaching. In fact, after some time i noticed people standing closer to the doors were hurriedly shifting and trying to fit themselves in towards the inner reaches of the compartment. This was decidedly eerie. Till an elderly gentleman gently put his hands on my shoulders and explained- "yeh train Virar local banega -Aap baith jao". I was still quite perplexed and right about then the train gently rolled into the platform. The crowd, as i peeped through the windows seemed to be spilling out into the tracks. I sat down, mesmerized because i had never in my life seen a platform so crowded. And then the train came to a halt and the noise began. Of people rushing into the compartment. It was loud and sounded almost like an invading army. People flowed in, but very unlike a tide. It was more of a tsunami. These people rushing on board looking for seats had the look of famished animals searching for meat. Within seconds the whole bogie was crowded. If any unsuspecting soul had been standing near the doors, he would have been crushed. I had a tough time alighting from that stationary train, even when it was waiting in its station of origin. I could completely agree that these people would not allow me to alight from the train in anywhere on route. The legend was true.