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Impressions by Christoph Kober
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
There are many fascinating places in Mumbai, but the most outstanding one to me is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus – or Victoria Terminus – Mumbai’s busiest and most impressive train station.
The itching excitement of setting out into the world; the lump in one’s neck waving good bye to a loved one; the warmest of all feelings: returning home Put all of these emotions against the backdrop of constant activity and commotion. No other location I’ve ever been to embodies this unique atmosphere like Victoria Station does.
During my stay with the Media Ambassador program in India I had to pass through the station every day on my way to work. And regularly I simply had to stop and just watch.
In the morning, local trains spill out armies of commuters by the minute. Every cart seems to be packed to its limit, often beyond. In about 9 hours from now these people will again be pushing and shoving to get onboard the very same lines that’ll take them home. Hordes of travelers make their way down the platform to reach long-distance trains, taking them to relatives in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal or Tamil Nadu. An infinite number of porters are carrying, pushing, dragging, hurling boxes, packages or luggage. Virtually everyone seems to be in motion – be it just trying to cut line on one of the ever-crowded ticket booths.
And amidst all the bustle, turmoil and rush there are islands of tranquility. The eight members of a family waiting for their connection, sitting on the floor snacking on some of their provisions; an office worker taking a glimpse at his paper while getting a shoe shine; one of the vendors taking a nap in a corner.
It’s a truly unique picture of Mumbai's everyday life in one of the most extraordinary buildings I know. When you visit, take a seat on a concrete bench at one of the side walls – and take in the scene.