There was no Ghajini in my train

This is what has been appearing in the local trains. A picture with an Aamir Khan-lookalike as portrayed in the film Ghajini - muscular body, tattoos with comments against Muslims. In the report they have been mentioned as members of a community.

Now, the railway police are investigating the case.

While it was not clear about the printer of the poster, the name of an organisation, Dharm Raksha Manch, appeared at the bottom of the poster. “We will register a case under Section 153 a (creating hatred among two communities),” said Bharatkumar Rane, senior inspector of Mumbai Central railway police.

Where is Aamir Khan? Doesn’t he always jump in to protect rights and make a committed comment? Why has he shut up now?

The local trains in Mumbai ferry across over 6 million people everyday. Will this affect their viewpoint? Or will they just look at it as a Ghajini promo? Oh, just in case people do not know…the film is due for a ‘world premiere’ on Indian television soon. Is it time for saying Ouch?

- - -

I have travelled in these trains and people barely have space to breathe. Let me recollect some images:

Ladies’ compartment: Sweat patches in armpits. Fading strings of jasmine or mogra in hair. The wind in faces near the footboard. Grumbling voices of those behind if the strands of hair lashed against their faces. Fisherwomen entering with their catch in baskets. Munching bars of chocolate or opening packets of peanuts. Chopping vegetables for home. Opening shopping bags to show friends new purchases. Sounds of women singing. “Push, push” the urgent request to make space for one more person where only four could fit. Taking turns. Stamping on toes. Asking you for the time even if they had watches. Asking you where you’d get off. Not out of concern, but so they could take your place. Reading books. Solving crossword puzzles. Hawkers. Beggars. Eunuchs insisting they are women.

Men’s compartment: Sweaty. Playing cards on briefcases. Discussing politics. Discussing the stock market. Discussing the women in the ladies’ compartments. Cracking off-colour jokes.

I usually travelled early to miss the peak hour and got back home late because I worked hard! I shall always remember the one time I got into a compartment. No one was there. I shut my eyes and hoped no one would enter and notice that I was edgy. At a station I suddenly saw a man ready to step out (one could not look at the other side if you were sitting near the window). I rushed to the doorway. How did I miss this? I went to where he had been and saw a pile of turd. This guy had defecated there.

I had no choice but to wait for the next station to alight and run to another compartment. It made me wonder how we can just shut ourselves to everything and not see, hear or smell…

Perhaps those posters will work in the same way. Hatred is like shit, anyway.


  1. There could be a impact,people read it many times and get influenced.Is a case registered??Enjoyed your account of train journeys I would not have guts after seeing the crowded picture!!Why do women chop vegetables,are they allowed to carry knife

  2. I would like to believe that most people will ignore it. Yes, the railway police is investigating but in the absence of the name of the printer it will be tough.

    Most people outside Mumbai do get daunted but it is an acquired habit and people don't have a choice.

    Knives...I don't know about security measures these days but in the 90s it was a common sight. They'd buy vegetables from outside the station, get them ready to be cooked when they reached home when tired working hubby returned and wanted hot hot meals. Men!

  3. Hi Farzana, kb,

    Y'know, it's strange, since the military, I can't hardly walk past a line (or "queue," for English normals) without having to suppress an almost overwhelming urge to go stand in it. :D

    It's an old joke -- not mine -- but apt, I think. It plays on the experience -- common to every military servicemember -- of interminable hours on parade or en queue for one reason or another. The expression "hurry up and wait" is similarly evocative, and certainly the very idea of a "train" encapsulates both.

    Akin to the vegetable chopping lady, say, I and many of my fellows carried a paperback novel stashed in our uniform cargo-pockets for just such occasions (this was before the advent of the cell-phone). :)


  4. This made me recall my days in Bombay. There are some good travelogues based on great rail journeys and would enjoy reading one by you. Did you use Churchgate or VT? Are Wheelers book stores around?

    Best regards, Ameya

  5. Hi Mark:

    In our local trains one is just pushed in and out...so the concept of a queue falls flat. I being an obedient rule-following citizen had no option but to enter compartments and be pushed out, sometimes at the wrong station :)

    So, I guess I have no 'military' inclination. A lot of people did carry books, but now I believe they just talk on the cellphone. I would spend time thinking - the tracks fascinated me.
    - - -


    Oh, I have never travelled long-distance by train...Pune being the farthest. But, there are several episodes I could string together here.

    I did the Churchgate sector and you do know that it was considered better than VT and way better than the Harbour Line.

    A H Wheeler's are very much around; that worked well as a meeting place or to browse through magazines. They had a large collection of regional mystery stories with frightful looking people on the cover.

    It's been a while, so a lot must have changed.

    Feels wonderful to remember all this.


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