5 Pro Tips To Handle Mumbai Local’s Gardi During Rush Hour From A Semi-Professional Commuter

by Rachna Srivastava
5 Pro Tips To Handle Mumbai Local’s Gardi During Rush Hour From A Semi-Professional Commuter

Haaye garmi…and haaye gardi! That’s Mumbai Locals summed up in two key phrases for you! If you are living in the Maximum City or its many suburbs, then you will be well-versed with the ajooba that is the Mumbai local train system. Hands down, it is the quickest way to travel around the vast and ever-expanding Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Otherwise, it takes lightyears to battle road traffic and reach your destination. #NotExaggerating


Mumbai Local Trains – the real culture shock

But, is it everyone’s cup of tea? *scoffs* Abso-effing-lutely not! It is meant ONLY for the brave-hearted, the jostlers, the pro-hustlers and people who are not afraid to take up space or get into the “this is Sparta mode” in an instant. It’s not for the “ji aapka haath lag raha hai”, not for “please side dijiye”, and definitely not for “ohh baapre, people – runs in opposite direction”. Up until a few years ago, I was the latter. But waqt ke kiya haseen sitam and local train regular hogaye hum. (insert 50 rupaye kaato meme).

So, yours truly came to the City of Dreams with big dreams, sparkling eyes, in awe of everything Bambainagariya has to offer. Cut to my first local train journey from Andheri to Dadar in the morning rush hour and all the suhawane sapne were chaknachoor. Loose translation, dreams were shattered. And my clothes were tattered. (yea, take Rs 50!). Many of you who come from different cities and witness the maddening crowds in Mumbai locals will agree that this is the REAL culture shock!

But how did a claustrophobic, ‘oh-please don’t touch me’ ambivert become a seasoned (okay, okay, semi-professional) Mumbai Local train commuter? Experience, boss! Experience. And, of course, pro-tips from super seniors and more seasoned travellers. Now, gather around, it is time to spill the secrets that will help you tackle haaye gardi in Mumbai Locals like a pro!

5 Pro-Tips To Handle Mumbai Local’s Gardi During Rush Hour

1. Learn your A, B, Cs

Churchgate Station Mumbai Local
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

A for Andheri. B for Bandra. C for Churchgate. And, these are just three, there are many more you’ll need to learn if you wanna get on the right train. m-indicator is your best friend, and you have to do your homework well as to what are the station and train indicator codes on all Western, Central and Harbour lines. If you already don’t know what these three mean, oh sweet child of mine, educate yourself, ASAP!

How will it help? So that you a) don’t hop on the wrong train b) don’t get smushed when asking where you are on a heavily crowded suburban railway station looking at your torn clothes, broken sandals and bruised love handles. Don’t ask me why it is so detailed and don’t ask if this happened to me. *awkward*

 2. Track it like it’s hot

Thanks to new feature upgrades on apna asli bidu m-indicator, you can check which train is running late, which train is coming next, which one is aligning well with your chakras of reaching the station in time.

If a train is running late, the chances of it getting overcrowded are higher. It is simple math! If in the next 3 minutes, a train doesn’t take away the passengers already assembled like Avengers on the platform, then, of course, the one arriving will have to bear the brunt of more footfalls!

Mumbai Local

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The tip here is, to learn to let things go. Wait for the next khali, hahaha, just kidding, next train. Chances are it will already come packed. So if you are running really late, then hop on, cling to the rod for your life, push people inside, take up space and stand your ground…err..footboard. Otherwise, the wise thing to do is let it go, let it gooooo!

3. Do not board long-long distance trains during rush hour

When I say long distance, I am not talking about Passenger trains. I mean, the ones that originate from or goes to the remotest parts of MMR. Like Virar, Ambernath, Assagaon, Kalyan, Dombivali, Bhayandar, and more. You get the drift. Now, if you have to go to these places only, then I am sorry, I cannot help you. But if you have to get down mid-way, look for trains that end at junctions like Borivali, Andheri, Thane, Kurla, Bandra, Goregaon, etc.

Also, rush hour is morning and evening. Morning is 8-10 am and evening is 5.45 to 7.45/8 pm. So, if you can convince your manager for a different clock-in and clock-out time, changa ji, else, all the best! 

4. Don’t be afraid to take up space

The only class distinction in Mumbai locals is First Class and General, otherwise, all the man-made caste divide stand (quite literally, tho) no chance. You will find people from all walks of life, stuck with you for the ride. There is no concept of personal space in a crowded local. You are standing with folks boobs-to-boobs, ass-to-ass, bag-to-ass, and elbows digging deep into your sides and also people stomping unapologetically over your feet.

mumbai local train - women boarding the ladies only carriage

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Tip: Always have your laptop bag in front, your side bags clutched to your chest and stand your ground. Pickpocketing is real, BTW. And, there is a real possibility you will get down and or bag won’t, and vice versa. So be in charge of your belongings.

5. The best space to stand is…

Who am I kidding? Nowhere. There is literally no best place to stand inside a crowded local. Sitting is a dream. You can certainly try and book your seat in advance by doing some verbal mandawali (bargaining). 


But, if you want to breathe and not be sandwiched by the influx of people, grab the place by the gate, on the sides, and DO NOT MOVE. For the love of God and your body, do not move even a millimetre from that standing position, right at the gate with your back towards the side partition. You move, you lose.

I, suddenly, realised I have more gyaan to share than just 5 broad tips.*impressed by self*

Other handy tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not keep your phone in your hand while at the gate
  • If you drop something, you will never be able to retrieve it, unless you are getting down at the last station.
  • Do not engage in arguments (which are bound to happen) with folks. It is best to take the high road.
  • Ladies, this one’s for you. Please, and double please, keep your zulfe aka hair tied. Nobody wants to eat your hair or enjoy being air-slapped by it in moving locals.
  • Men and sweaty armpits are a real thing. Best to use a good deo. Same goes for women, too.
  • Travel with only 1 bag. Multiple bags = multiple hassles
  • Do not eat or chew loudly, as no one is interested in getting a glimpse of your uvula. Yes, the distance between your face and the person next to you is utterly minimal.
  • Please hold your farts

Surprised by the last one? Oh, you will know!

If I was able to help you in any way, you’re welcome. If you can help me in any way, please slide into my DMs (comments below) with handy tips.

Till then, savdhan rahe, satark rahe, and please alight carefully, in queue. *winks*

And, do let me know in the comments section below, how was your first ever Mumbai Local train journey. 

Cover Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons