Train Strain

First of all I’d like to start off by letting all my readers know, that I hail from a bustling metropolis- a city comparable to New York- a resilient city that never sleeps… Bombay – India…

Why am I telling you this? Well you will soon know…

I spent 7 years of my life using the city’s lifeline- the famous (or infamous) Bombay local train… a place where friendships were forged, catfights witnessed, people literally hugged each other (it was so crowded then- I have no idea how much more now), and where people always rushed to help others come what may….

So, when I travel by public transport in any other part of the world, the hostility of fellow passengers always astounds me. No I do not expect you to smile or say hi my dear fellow passenger- I like the invisibility whilst traveling- but yes I do expect you to be courteous, and maybe apologize if you stamp my toe- Yes you had better…..

A few months ago I took the subway in New York and also the PATH from New York into New Jersey… A lady entered the train- complete with a big suitcase and a couple of plastic bags which she held in her hand. She tried her best to balance it all, given that the train was crowded and in motion. Her suitcase suddenly fell and there ensued a fight. Instead of just apologizing, she started abusing. Fellow passengers tried to intervene but she screamed and raved and ranted using expletives without a care that there were some really young kids in the car. She screamed she had a bad day, and if her suitcase fell so what- she said she would move it, could the other passenger just wait??  Passengers tried to hail the railway police at the next station- but what did they do? They turned a deaf ear and ignored the passenger who hailed them- maybe it was time to get off duty but so what??

I looked at Mr. R, my sis in law and her husband who was carrying their year old baby, wanting to yell at this woman or at least ask her to get off- but Mr. R restrained me and told me to look the other way. I was terrified that this woman would whip out a gun and start shooting everyone in the car. All I did was keep praying that she wouldn’t, right until we reached our destination- Newport Pavonia in Jersey City.

When did traveling by train make one fear for their life? Thinking about it makes me wish I could introduce New Yorkers to Dubai’s metro system or actually India..

Where am I going with this story? Well the icing on the cake-Mr. R woke up this morning and informed me……… a shootout in the train at the very same station outside the house- the station from which we take the train for the 10 minute ride into into NYC every single day….

A picture of a train pulling in to Newport- A picture I took 2 months ago
A picture of a train pulling in to Newport- A picture I took 2 months ago

And the irony of it all- the suspect a 34 year old man, was apparently sitting next to a woman and dozing off, thereby falling on her. The woman complained and asked him to move- and what did he do? He pulled out a 9 mm Glock handgun. The woman’s brother intervened and the guy put back his gun, only to remove it out again and start firing, when the brother said ‘Who pulls out a handgun for something like this?’

The lady was shot in the ankle, another man — a poor bystander — was struck by a bullet in his hand, and by the time the suspect was apprehended, he had sustained a gun wound in his left leg- having accidentally shot himself.

This incident so close to where Mr. R and my brother live scared the life out of me… How many times have I yelled at people for pushing me, after politely asking them to give me space? PATH trains get crowed yes- but not at 5 am on a Sunday morning. If people in a country like India can live in harmony, pull people’s hair, scratch each other whilst having a fight in a crowded train, can educated people in America not take a hint and learn from that?

Newport Pavonia PATH platform- Station between Hoboken and Grove Street..
Newport Pavonia PATH platform- Station between Hoboken and Grove Street.. eerie by my standards:p

And the Port Authority police? Well less said the better- they woke up after the shooting. Would they have come to the lady’s rescue had she complained before that? I doubt it- In fact in light of my previous experience with the ‘expletive throwing lady’ – highly improbable.

What if it was a weekday and 2 hours later? The entire office crowd would be heading into the city- including Mr R and my brother.. it wouldn’t be 3 people, but many more who would’ve been shot- the gun was unlicensed- but c’mon- it is not difficult to procure a gun in the US.

Can the country not wake up? Whatever the reason may be- I am a strong advocate of people not being allowed to carry arms- and especially in public. However much you may educate an individual or carry out a mental health check- you are never sure of what a person may do. As human beings we are inherently unpredictable and such incidents only serve to reinstate the fact that America without Guns- is the answer……. Other countries live without them- so why can’t America?



  1. Hi Anthea,
    What a brilliant post. And timely one too. When people are bashing India the world over for it’s women’s issues you have shown that issues plague every place in this world, no point singling out one country, one city.

    Keep writing



    1. Thanks so much Amrita. It breaks by heart- the amount of flack everyone gives India… What about people like Ariel Castro- took the easy way out n hung himself in jail, or the high school teacher who was sentenced for such a short period ( 1 or 3 months I don’t recall) how come that’s not the ‘in’ news… No one is safe anywhere…. But thanks so much for ur wonderful words- it lifts up d spirit!! Xoxoxo


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