The train leaves from Victoria Terminus at 8.05 sharp. And it reaches Dadar at around 8.20 pm. Normally for local train commuters VT and Dadar are distinguished by the availability of seats, and/or one left hanging by the window grills or enveloped inside the compartment by the omnipotent crowd. However for the Karjat Local it’s slightly different. The timescape between VT and Dadar is for sounds check. Dadar is where the curtain rises, where the crowds pour in, and willfully or not, sway to the electricity of Karjat Local Kirtans.
In local trains, there are more than a few people (to ferry them across the exception category) who take out little notebooks of scriptures, chanting names of gods to carry them across to the painful sweat stinking physical to the blissful metaphysical. It’s a deeply personal thing. Like the stoic journey of pilgrims to El Dorado.
The Karjat Local Kirtans comprise a vocalist, who doubles up as khanjani player, a harmonium player, who also doubles up as backing vocals, and a tabla player, and enthusiasts who chip in for the chorus. The songs are usually 3 to 5 minutes in length starting off with lethargically, as the train chugs out the platform, picking tempo with the beats and rhythm of the motors, and again tailing off smoothly as it comes to halt in the next station. The band decides on their next number in the 20 second break of egress-entry. And then, taking a jam-packed local train into the spiritual savannas of blue fairies and blackcurrants, encore…
Karjat Local Kirtans don’t play on jukebox.