Commute scenes and thoughts you might miss if you're on your phone

Art: Mansa Chitlangia
Words: TLJ

 

Ever heard of Operation Majnu?

Back in 2012, that is what the Delhi Metro officials called their attempts at chasing men out of the women's-only compartment of the trains. The basic fine was Rs. 250. Some offenders were even charged double if they picked fights with the officials that were enforcing the exclusivity of the women's compartment.   

Some men wander in without realizing it, sometimes their intention is to stay close to a beloved. But  yet other times it is to creepily follow a girl they thought was pretty. Ever since 2012 though, the barrage of stern tones that remind and warn men to get out and find their way to the general coaches has increased. 

This is just a limited example. But many a times, it seems that we turn a blind eye to what conversations, and what practices travel with us on public transit. Because we're so lost in our own heads. 

The three monkeys follow us here too.

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Metro trains might have the one women's coach per train. But what of buses and other local trains? What of any other crowded public space in which unnecessary physical proximity is masqueraded as compulsion due to lack of space? 

Yet, women, and other usually targeted travelers like younger children and various LGBTQIA persons do what they can, and must, day after day.   

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They aren't just harassed passengers though, trying to claim their rightful space in crowds.

Lately, they're also taking back the spaces of working in public transport. Some driving auto-rickshaws now.  In Kerala, there's been a push towards inclusivity, with the Kochi metro employing trans-men and -women in the service. The scheme is battling its own problems stemming from everyday social realities and taboos.

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No travel or commute story is complete without a reference to the dearly beloved Indian Railways. Despite the prevalence of local trains and other modes of suburban commute that's becoming increasingly common in big cities, arms of the Indian Railways network host not only long haul travelers, but even daily commuters in various sectors. 

Leaving you with a sleeper coach scene that you'll sympathize with if your height was not what the Railways had in mind:

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Mansa Chitlangia is a visual artist, illustrator and a graphic designer, who loves experimenting with mixed media. She's  a cynophile who loves working on walls, collaborations and travel.
You can follow her work here.