BANDS ON BOARD

Transport

Mumbai's local trains are a microcosm of their own. The 8 million commuters who use the network have organised themselves into a variety of subgroups - the card players who turn an office briefcase on a lap into a makeshift card table, the housewives who like to get started on dinner by chopping vegetables together on the train, and the most vocal of them all - the singers.

The city has at least 600 different singing groups who fill the trains with slightly-off key devotional songs every morning. They are made up of ordinary commuters who, facing boredom and a 2 hour commute to work, bonded with their fellow passengers over some songs and homemade musical instruments. Apparently, the songlist depends on the day of the week, with Mondays being for songs about Lord Shiva, Tuesdays for Lord Ganesh and so on.

One of the oldest singing groups is the Om Sai Navatarun Railway Pravasi Bhajan Mandali, which has been singing for over 15 years. "We are around 50, of which 25-30 are regular travelers and around 12 are regular singers,” says Mr. Pujari an engineer by day, and a singer on the 5.55 Badlapur Fast. Over the years, many of the groups have begun to change their playlist, incorporating Bollywood tunes, and taking requests from fellow passengers.

Many of them would prefer to request for silence instead. The Railway Police have asked people to stop singing loudly on trains, after receiving over 500 complaints in a month. 

Image source: DiyaTaleAndhera