Women In The Mumbai Locals Through The Eyes Of Instagram

© Anushree Fadnavis
© Anushree Fadnavis | © Anushree Fadnavis
Sukhada Chaudhary

There are many photographers based in Mumbai and outside who have dedicated their time to capturing the way people in Mumbai commute to and from work; however, one particular female photographer is chronicling the way women use the Mumbai locals – the busiest mode of transport in the city. Photographer and Instagrammer Anushree Fadnavis has now clicked hundreds of charming photographs in the women’s coaches of these suburban trains. What makes them so special? We’ll let you be the judge.
Each photographer tells a story – from sometimes being alone in a crowd to being the crowd. Different worlds come together in the Mumbai locals and in Anushree Fadnavis’s photographs. She is a photojournalist working for the news agency Indus Images. Her work, under the name of #traindiaries,was the launch feature for Katha Collective – the first Indian mobile photography initiative on Instagram. Here’s a selection of some of her most fascinating photographs:

With maddening crowds, personal space is a non-existent feature on the Mumbai locals. To stop yourself from getting pushed around too much, one must hold onto the handlebars above. This young girl squeezed in between the two ladies is a perfect representation.

Probably clicked in a first-class compartment or a local going against the rush hour traffic, the journey on a local train is a great way for many to focus on themselves and catch up on their make-up and grooming, often spoiled by Mumbai’s overbearing humidity.

It is not uncommon for police constables to catch the local train and travel in the ladies compartment. This charming capture has a child holding a balloon at the other end – making for an intriguing contrast to the strictness one associates with the police.

As with every other Mumbai aspect, the dwellers of this city know how to make innovative solutions for everything. Here, a mother makes a make-shift cradle for her infant by tying cloth at the window and grill at the entrance.

The Mumbai locals are much more than tired, insipid journeys back home. Regular travelers often make friends on the local and make it a point to catch the same train every morning to form groups and keep the friendship going. Laughter and jokes fill the air when you are surrounded by certain groups.

The ladies coach is also a safe space for many women – a place where they can travel confidently and without inhibitions. Many times, one can spot ladies taking off their burqas when they travel, only to put them on as their station approaches.

When traveling with kids, the ladies coach is always a better option because the crowd is relatively less as compared to the jam-packed and sometimes unruly men’s/general compartments. Many mothers accompany their little ones in the ladies coach.

Some women find the perfect space for some ‘me’ time on the Mumbai locals. A great way to be alone in a crowd.

Often teenage boys travel in the women’s compartment – sometimes selling wares or sometimes just to avoid the mad rush in the general compartments. The ladies are sympathetic, and nobody minds them traveling along most of the time.

Anushree’s photographs capture everyday travel in an endearing way that hits home with the viewer. A traveler on the local for the last ten years, her documentation of this aspect of women’s travel is only going to grow, and we look forward to what she captures through her mobile phone next!

You can find her Instagram account here.

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