Monday, November 14, 2005

A Journey in Indian Railways.....

This weekend I had the "once in a lifetime opportunity" to travel in a general compartment of Indian Railways. The experience was a little short of a nightmare that you dream should never come true.

I will mention some of the inumerable instances that made the journey really tiring and discomforting.

First hurdle was buying tickets. To start with I was lucky enough not to stand in the long unwinding queue to buy the tickets. One of my friends bought the tickets and in all the jostling lost a Rs.500 note,but to look at the brighter side he came out of the queue unharmed and more pleasantly with 4 tickets for us. (First battle for tickets won!!).

Then came the challenge to get a seat, as 4 hour long journey can be really taxing on your un-exercised legs. There was a sea of people wanting to jump into the bogey. I could not imagine so many people fitting into that small compartment but I could figure out this reason later when I learnt that it was a norm for 4 ,even 5 people sometimes, to sit on a seat marked with 3 distinct integers. My assumption that 3 numbers meant that 3 people could sit on it was wrong.
Again one of my friends who was well accustomed to all this had a small trick up his sleeve. He jumped,as everyone else did, into one of the compartments while the train was coming to a stop at the station. And hence we managed to get 2 seats for 4 of us to sit.The alley between the seats was supposed to have zero voids with all available space to be used by the traveling "junta" to stand and travel("suffer").

Traveling from then on was a little more comfortable. With only the person next to you pushing you more and more to sit more comfortably,you literally had to fight for survival.But somehow after a few pushes and nudges everyone was settled and able to adjust. Now if you are lucky/unlucky to have a window seat you can have the full view of a**es of people trying to answer mother natures' call, early morning. All the stinking sweat; yours and of the people around you is something you should be prepared to bear with. After all we are a tolerant society! Somehow we pass our time playing cards or listening to music from my newest gizmo, a Samsung digital music player, we reach your destination. After realizing that you have passed this endurance test you, notice that your face and hair all having a fine coating of dust which due to mixing with sweat forms into a thin crust. But the realization of having successfully traveled in such adverse conditions, you are happy. And all the sweat and mud is just a symbol of labour and effort you have put in. But that faint smile on your face disappears soon as you realize that you have to return the same day. Thoughts of going again through that ordeal makes you sweat already and drain whatever water your body has been able to retain.


Anonymous said...

Really good one.
Well..You were travelling with experts "your good friends from Gwalior".

Anonymous said...

:-) ..good experience for you..and it was really good..keep writing dear. :-) Luv