7.42 AM LADIES SPECIAL
January 17, 2013
If Air-India can boast of SKY BAZAR, then the Railways can boast of NANDITA’S BAZAR which happens daily on the local train that ferries only ladies, young and old, from Borivli to Churchgate at 7.42 a.m.
The ladies are greeted every morning with statutory warnings by the Railways to be alert if “there is any suspicious object lying inside the train or under the seat,” interrupted by the jolly motorman from Uttar Pradesh, who with all the joy and pleasure announces “your attention please, this is ladies eespecial train, male paissengers are not allowed to board this train.” By this time, ladies have tucked themselves into the seats (some seats slope downwards while others are hollow in the middle) one has to adjust her bottom to enjoy the journey free from aches and pains.
Most ladies travel in groups with their train pals. Morning pleasantries are exchanged. Tiffins are opened and the aroma of theplas, masala idlis or tilguls dominate the atmosphere. Recipes are discussed and the train chugs into Malad station.
Here comes the interesting part of the journey when NANDITA’S BAZAR starts the day. Nandita is a local from Gorai who boards the Ladies Special at Malad with her vegetable basket. She is petite, cute, and neatly dressed in traditional style. She is admired for her charming smile and wise cracks.
The basket is now unveiled. The trading takes place between the First Class and Second Class Compartments. “Nandita, aaj kai?” “Aga, aaj, targule, methi, palak, lal matt, ani beet ahae. Tumhala kai havi?” “Targule kaula ahe na?” “Ho ga, maza naura ne packing kela”. Pahije ka tumhala?” The vegetables are transported through the grill between the compartments. The lush green methi, matt and colour of brinjals lures you into buying the vegetables. The poor targulas go through pain when each one presses them to check if they are tender or tough. “Stop it please, says the targulas, Nandita’s naura has pressed us enough, you won’t get any juice out of us now.” After this trading session in the train, she alights at Vile Parle with her basket on the head and two big bags on her hip, East Indian style, I guess. The bazaar takes a day’s break when Nandita sheepishly and with a naughty glint in her eye announces “Maza Naura paloon gela. Aaj kai nahi.”
Intrigued by Nandita’s enthusiasm, lady commuters have interviewed her amidst trading activities. Apparently, besides selling vegetables that are grown in her field, she also works in an office. After she returns home, she along with her Naura, patiently segregate the vegetables and tie them into bunches for sale the next day. Her Naura accompanies her to Malad station and assists in unloading the basket into the compartment. As male paissengers are not allowed to board this eespecial, he follows in the next train and they both meet up at Vile Parle Station.
Nandita’s Bazar brings a smile on our faces and a good start for the day. We all look forward to seeing purple brinjals, tender turnips, targulas, lush green leafy palak, methi, lal matt and mula.
I can reminisce on fairy tale stories where the rabbits would be quietly nibbling fresh turnips in the field and the cunning fox would be waiting to catch his prey. How about visiting Nandita’s field in Gorai to go wild with nature, munch on turnips and juicy targulas.