This article is a result of my MSc Deaf Studies dissertation that is situated on an intersection between Deaf geography, anthropology and Deafhood theory. During five weeks of participatory observation and interviews in Mumbai, my attention was drawn to the city's lifeline: the suburban train system.
It appeared that Deaf people tend to travel in specific compartments for people with disabilities that were set up about eight years ago. They started to use these compartments—and also the train platforms—as important meeting places. The article explains how this evolved and the reasons for traveling in compartments for disabled people rather than in general train compartments—reasons that have nothing to do with a "deficit" perspective on deafness.
Not only has this way of traveling several sociocultural consequences that appear to strengthen links in the Mumbai Deaf community; in addition the visibility of signing Deaf groups has caused a growth in Deaf awareness among hearing people in these "disabled" compartments in particular and at the train stations in general. It is because of Mumbai's geography, its resulting population density and the heavy use of suburban trains unique for this city, that these several different effects were so strongly spread in both the Deaf community and among hearing people.