G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Sure of the Mumbai Locals, Straphanging and Palmistry

Today April 16 2013 is 160th anniversary of commercial passenger train travel in India



"साहेबाचा पोऱ्या मोठा अकली, बिन बैलान  गाडी कशी हकली ."

( I remember the above couplet from my 9th standard history school text. Any error in reproduction is regretted.)


Matthew Engel:

"...The narrative takes on its most epic quality in the United States; its most stupid in Australia (where the different states set about building a charming variety of gauges without a thought about what would happen when you tried to link them up); and its most brutal in India, where maybe 25,000 workers died building the line through the Western Ghats alone..."

(Review of  "Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World" by Christian Wolmar,  Guardian,  November 29 2009)


The first train ran at 3:35 pm on April 16th, 1853, when 14 railway carriages and 400 guests left Bombay's Bori Bunder for Thane, with a 21-gun salute. It was hauled by three locomotives: Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib. The journey took an hour and fifteen minutes.


2013 also marks the 150th anniversary of the London Tube, the world’s first subway system.

The freedictionary.com defines 'straphang' as:  "To travel as a straphanger", as on a subway or bus and straphanger as "One who grips a hanging strap or similar device for support while riding as a passenger on a bus or subway."

Now, I have traveled quite a bit on Mumbai local trains, often in second class, luckily not often during the rush hours, and, more importantly, against the flow of the majority (i.e. traveling towards South in the evenings and North in the mornings).

I thought I knew a little about straphanhging and then one day I took a fast train around 5 PM from VT  and alighted (?) at Ghatkopar.  I felt my education in  straphanhging or simply hanging-for-dear-life was complete.


1905: Comic card from the District Railway, whose electric trains defied the underground's reputation for slowness and unreliability, and taught passengers the new skill of 'straphanging' during rush hours

Image courtesy London Transport Museum and Brainpickings.org

More interesting is the following picture where it says the lure of the Underground...the way they are getting sucked into the tube station....Mumbai local commuters can identify better with the word sure because the inevitability of locals in their lives


Image courtesy London Transport Museum and Brainpickings.org

Now, look at the following picture of inside of a Mumbai local.

People are hanging on to straphangers or bars. There is lots of pushing and shoving. But not all are irritated.

Look at the smiling man at the centre  of the picture wearing a headgear. He is looking at the open palm of the man standing next to him and lo, he sees a better future there!




caption: "You are soon buying a car ! Line on your palm only is telling it...."

 ("तुम्ही लौकरच  मोटार  घेणार ! हातावरची  रेषाच  सांगतेय … ")

Artist: Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे), 'Vyangkala- Chitrakala' ('व्यंगकला - चित्रकला'), 2005

(note- This is Sarwate's early cartoon, first published decades ago)

p.s.

I buy one Marathi and two English dailies and I did not see even a mention of this anniversary in them.

However, today morning I was glad to see that Google had decided to celebrate it, doodle style.

courtesy: Google inc.