The only time any self respecting person in Mumbai acknowledges the existence of the Harbour Line is to take cheap shots at it. And while I do find the fact that it smells like pee, runs coaches from before our independence and has an unnaturally high commuter death rate absolutely hilarious, I do have a soft spot for it. But don’t worry, I’ll still be dropping the truth bombs you’ve come to know and love regardless of my personal loyalties, because here at The Bombay Report, it’s all about the truth.
The point I’ll be trying to make is that if you’re from Mumbai, a tourist or even just a lone badass with a death wish, you need to ride the Harbour line at least once, because it’s amazing. Not good by any stretch of the imagination; just amazing.
After the tragic loss of Derrek the intern, my colleagues and I decided to clear our heads in the only manner we know, substance abuse. But it turns out we’re writers and don’t have that kind of money, so we decided to try something a little less mainstream and somewhat cheaper; riding the rails until we found peace. Or CST, whichever came first. And because we thought urban decay and poverty would be a great theme for our afternoon of mourning, we took the Harbour Line.
The trains were outdated, the stations smelt of pee and other things I’m not allowed to say on the site We passed through way too many slums and ended up paying a load of money to every single bullying eunuch that looked our way, but honestly, it wasn’t an unpleasant experience to say the least, it was actually quite fun.
I suppose there’s something about the prospect of imminent death (hanging out of a train on a bridge trying to get pictures of trash on the tracks) that makes things a bit more interesting, but jokes aside, it was still pretty fun. And I’m proud to say my grip is way stronger than my photography. There were sights and sounds you’d never see in Western Bombay, from the eerie silence of the dilapidated mills, to the heavy machinery in factories that haven’t yet been converted to Socials, to people from the slums that run parallel to the tracks going about their business as though we weren’t even there. There were oil refineries I never knew existed, bridges that seemed to lead to nowhere and more goats than I can possibly count, say what you want about the Harbour Line, but it does have an unapologetic charm to it that you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
So as a city guide that rarely ever writes about the city, I have to say, the real Bombay isn’t the bubble we see; overpriced cafes, celebrities in sunglasses and delicious burgers in Malad, it’s what runs along the Harbour line. And that’s why you should check it out.