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Travel on silent mode
Mumbai local commuters fed up of loud cellphone chatter and songs blaring from mobile devices can now look forward to some relief.
Last Saturday, the PA system at Churchgate crackled into life with an announcement that startled everyone waiting at the platform: "Passengers are requested to keep their mobiles on silent or on vibration mode or the ringtone at low volume. Also, avoid talking loudly and make conversations short while travelling to avoid inconvenience to co-passengers. Thank you. "
The announcement made by Western Railways could not have come a day too soon. For commuters on Mumbai local trains, noisy co-passengers are becoming an irritating fact of life. Persistently yelling on their cellphone or playing their favourite songs aloud, they can turn a weary, long commute into a nightmare.
"I was dozing off on my way from Andheri to Churchgate on a hot afternoon when a man, who was angrily yelling into his mobile phone, occupied a seat next to me, " recalls Akshay Raj, chief manager with a multi-national bank. "The rest of us stared at him in the hope that he would realise that he was being a nuisance. " But the 'noisemaker' was in no mood to welcome suggestions on mobile etiquette in a local train.
"I simply ignore it, or stare hard at the offenders, " says Rachna Virdi, assistant editor of 'New Women' magazine. "But I've told people who are listening to loud music to use earphones or stop right away. "
But reprimands are often met with hostile responses. "Who are you to stop me?" is the one you hear the most often.
"People don't like being told that they are wrong and if you do, tend to snap, " says clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany, "These noisemakers don't really care about those around them. It could be because of Mumbai's hectic lifestyle or because they are fed up of caring for people at home or in the office. That's why when they get into a public space, the thought in their minds is 'Why should I care?'"
Western Railways says it is more concerned about the likelihood of accidents caused by the mindless use of cellphones. "Many people who use mobile phones while crossing the tracks or on the platforms get distracted. And this has been leading to many accidents, " Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relation officer of Western Railways said. "We also feel that people who talk very loudly on the phone disturb their co-passengers, " he added. As of now the railway is only requesting that passengers stick to cellphone etiquette, there are no plans to punish violators.
"The initiative will definitely help. Communication is the key here. And railways should make such announcements more frequently, " says Raj, adding that banners requesting good commuter behaviour too might be an effective idea. Hingorrany says that commuters who are offended by offensive passenger behaviour should speak their mind. "It is important to make a noisemaker aware of his/her mistake, " she says.
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