A GROUP of five men board the 8.42 pm Kalyan semi-fast middle first-class coach on most working days from CST and soon, the chatter is about how two of them are ‘superb players’ while another complains that he has never been lucky in the game.
The two ‘superb players’ sit across each other as one of the two sidekicks fishes out his mobile phone from his pocket and starts the Ludo King game. The fifth person also starts the game on his mobile phone and plays with ‘computer’.
The five will remain engrossed till they reach Mumbra station about an hour later.
“Two things remain the same in our journey every day. The train we take – the 8.42pm semi-fast that halts at Mumbra – and the ludo game we play on board,” says one of them. “Engrossed in the game, the hour passes by so soon, that sometimes we are mid-game when the station arrives. It also helps us unwind after a long workday before we reach home,” he adds.
This group is not the only one. Aishwarya Nair, in her 20s, who works with a media firm in south Mumbai said that her sister introduced her to the game. While travelling in trains, she found that it was a good way to pass time.
“Over the past two-three months especially, every time I take a train, there are at least 20 people playing the game. During the course of my travel from south Mumbai to Goregaon, I manage to finish playing with the computer three-four times,” she said. “I think in this game you have to strategise and use your head a lot more which makes it interesting,” says Nair, who did not play games on mobile phones earlier. Aishwarya’s friend Priyanka Deshpande, a Malad resident who goes to Churchgate for work everyday, also started playing the game a few months ago after she thought “everyone in the train seemed to be playing this game. Just out of curiosity, I downloaded it and have been hooked ever since.”
Priyanka normally plays with gamers from across the world and enjoys these interactions.
“Since you are alone in the train, you can play with the computer, enter a chatroom with a friend and play with them or play with a random person from anywhere in the world. I have played a few games with a woman in Indonesia and a man from Germany. It has been fun,” she says.
“There are just 10 stock messages like ‘play fast’ and ‘good move’ that one can send. This ensures there is no unnecessary conversation or random messages from strangers. It is all about the game,” she added.
Before ludo, train commuters, especially the younger lot, were hooked to games like subway surfers and candy
crush saga.“But the fact that ludo is a traditional game that almost everyone has played makes it all the more attractive. Everyone knows the rules and it is good that the game has move from the board to the mobile,” says Mehul Thakkar, a Kandivli resident and a commuter hooked to the game.
Another commuter said those who work in south Mumbai markets, like Zaveri Bazaar, and take trains from Churchgate station post 10 pm were seen placing bets on the game, an aspect that was associated with playing cards in trains.
For most, a virtual game of ludo and a few rolls of the dice remain a source of entertainment after a tiring day at work.