hamara station hamari shaan

Mumbai Trains could be the second most notable attribute of this city that never sleeps, the first being the Mumbai rains. The average footfall per station, per day, runs into lakhs. One of the busiest commuter rail systems in the world, Mumbai Rail Network witnesses severe overcrowding thanks to a city bursting at its seams. If you can travel by a fast train on a Mumbai Local, trust me, you can achieve anything. The Gods swear by this litmus test, too. I doubt there is a single Mumbai success story that does not involve trains or train stations. I know my dad slept on one such railway station, years ago. Years later, I travelled to work in many such fast trains. Mumbai was home, and trains were its lifeline. So, when I got an invite to be part of a revamping initiative of our train stations, I knew I wanted in. Hamara Station Hamari Shaan, an initiative by Mumbai First, was beautifying 36 suburban stations on the Western and Central belt, as part of the Daan Utsav, between October 2 to October 8, 2016.

I got to know about this event via my daughter’s tuition teacher. Every station has group leaders and a dedicated WhatsApp group. (Thank god for the digital era). Once you register on the site, you receive a list of people to connect with across the city. You are free to choose the station you want to help. You can volunteer for logistics and admin, help with the generic painting or if you are an artist, work on the decorative panels. We chose to volunteer with the general artwork areas. And so armed with lots of enthusiasm, my daughter and I were off on Sunday, 2nd October 2016, to Vile Parle station.

Hamara Station Hamari Shaan – A Mumbai First Initiative

The inaugural ceremony with a dhol rendition by youngsters had all of us pumped up. Adequate security measures were in place with entry only post document verification and handing over of a ‘volunteer badge’. The paints arrived, we picked our brushes and were on the job. An eclectic mix of people across age, experience, languages and backgrounds came together seamlessly that morning even as the rains played spoilsport. People have been coming in drones across day and night, and since then, all the stations have been turning into crowdsourced artistic renditions. Work happens primarily between 9 pm to 10 pm, but the day sees a fair amount of activity as well. I know the kids, and I had a swell time.

 I am so glad that this Gandhi Jayanti, for a change, we tried being the change. You can, too, by registering here. You can check their FB page and follow them on Twitter @MumbaiFirst for more details. Even if you can’t volunteer, be a cheerleader – spread the word. This is our city, our space and we are about done complaining. Let’s raise our voices to make things right.

PS: All pictures without a watermark were received in the WhatsApp group and are shared for information purposes only. 

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