The lifeline of Mumbai, the local trains of Mumbai, it is where you get to climb the transport with your will but your exit depends on the few cliffhangers creating menace. It is the only place where you get to see hordes of people clamouring and all with a distinct style and touch to their personality.
If the routinely overflowing men class is the notorious one, it is the women class, though only a few, burdened with overzealous women gossiping about the most happening events in the town. The women class personalities have different shades and auras to them, some might look perturbed and some unperturbed, some over careful, some over careless, some rude, some soft, some too pink some too mauve, some shining with colors and some plain and unsheened. Amongst this clatter and chatter emerges a guy, the only guy allowed to board a women class.
“Bhav nahi hota madam, fixed rate hai,” (We don’t bargain, every kurti comes with a fixed rate) he says smiling. He is Sunil. He is a trader and sells women clothing in a local train. He travels in the same train every day, “Nahi pasand aaya, ya fitting problem hua to exchange karke dega na main,issi train main aata hun roj,” (If you don’t like it, if there is any fitting problems, I shall give you a replacement. I travel in the same train everyday,) he reassures the lady.
His sense of style and the way of talking determines why so many women are wooed by his sales techniques. He is indeed very sweet and will converse with you in your mother tongue which gives an “added edge” to your skills in a metropolitan. The mother tongue weapon acts like a magic wand for him, he knows! I look at him and he smiles, “You never buy anything, why is that so?” he asks me. I don’t have an answer to that one. He is way too smart and much too good baniya (salesman), I say to myself.
He has multicolored line of clothing all of which updated with the “latest” fashion and for every size and contour. “Double XL ka bhi hai,dusre color main,” (I have another piece in double XL in different colours,) he tries to persuade me yet again. I smile, “No thanks,” and decline the offer. The clothes are indeed enticing, but I look away.
Sunil has been in this trading-in-the-train-business ever since he was a toddler, he says. His family does the same! An old woman selling women petticoats and a middle-aged woman selling kurtis and pajamas happen to be his granny and mother respectively. Oh, yes I have met them too, I realize! A family business, it is then. I don’t know about his father; never touched that topic and neither overheard him talking to any co-passenger about it. But when I look at this guy, he appears to be of same age as me, in a semi-formal attire, hair gelled up and a clean shaven look. He knows his business that is a sure thing but he also knows to maintain relations, which is why so many aunties commuting in the same local every day not just buy clothes from him but also enquire about his family.
Sunil is unaware someone somewhere is writing about him but that is only because his efforts are worth appreciating. He carries a big blue polythene bag that encases varied types of women clothing-formals, t-shirts, skirts, party wear, the latest in the trend- you name it, he has it!
He smiles again at me, I smile back. I have no clue how much he has studied or if he has ever been on the threshold of schooling life. Sunil might not have been to school but he knows how to earn his bread. Your life’s lessons are much bigger and greater than those thought in closed classrooms.
Maturity and honesty dribbles from his wheat-ish complexioned innocent face. He befriends you immediately, a much needed trait for a businessman. The maturity and honesty dribbling innocent face makes one wonder, has he too lost his loved ones to the local train bombings? Has he too felt the tremor and the pain inflicted upon the Mumbaikars by the uncouth, ruthless terrorist bombsters? He might have been in that situation, who knows! I refrain from asking him any further and alight at my destination as the train makes a stop.
I will meet this guy yet again; maybe next time I might carry some extra cash to buy the beautiful clothing. His charm worked on me, like it worked on many other co-passengers, but have you met him?