Writers – Gyan Prakash

Gyan Prakash. Subaltern historian and story teller. Author of Mumbai Fables.

Some monsoons back, I spent a Sunday afternoon with one of the great chroniclers of Mumbai – Gyan Prakash. I was reading my blog entry from that day I met him and this was what I wrote.

The slower cousin of the two fast and furious main lines with their many swift branches is also one of the most interesting among the lifelines of Mumbai. When it rains, it’s the first one to break down but let’s blame it on the jealous Kurla Station on the main Central Line.

With its ups and downs, the noisy, elevated metal stations and the view of the Bay, the Harbour Line is slow because it wants you to look outside your window. It wants you to look towards the city’s east coast with the wide open spaces with cranes of the many docks in the background.

Those from the Western Line will notice that the Harbour line smells different. That’s because the people on this route don’t mask their smells with the same brands of deo. Talcum powders rule here. But they make up for that by being a little less rash. But then, very few on the Western Line know that there is something known as a Harbour Line.

The Harbour Line also touched the Western Line from Mahim to Andheri. I had my most interesting trip on Harbour Line from Bandra to CST and back with Gyan Prakash, the author of Mumbai Fables. I had to shoot a photograph of him for a review in Tehelka. So like a true Mumbaikar (he isn’t one. He lives in America), he asked me meet at Bandra station on a quiet Sunday afternoon and we jumped on a train to CST and talked, and clicked.

And out of the window passed the chapters of his book which I hadn’t yet read at that point of time. Harbour Line does not run North to South or east but like his book it travels through time. Through different times in this young city’s history. All you have to do is look out of the window.

If you have the time, take the Harbour Line on a quiet Sunday afternoon. It’s a different Mumbai Darshan.

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