This was not the first time I was traveling with Indian railways. But this recent trip of mine inspired me to write something about Indian Railways.
I have memories of Indian railways ever since I remember about myself. The trips were mostly to and fro to my hometown during summer vacations. That used to be a yearly rendezvous with a predefined set of excitement associated with that. Going to station was more than a personal affair. Normally I remember 2 or more families planning together to go for a vacation. All of the families were having a common route (Mumbai Varanasi route).
Ticket booking was a great job. Plan for a days’ off from work. Go to the railway station and wait for the booking clerk to appear on his desk. After all this he’ll give you a reservation if he is in good mood, or else you have to request ‘Bada Baabu’ for his favor. You can get this favor if you are either happy to donate or influential.
I remember jam-packed railway bogies with no water, sometimes even with no electricity. Running at each station to get some drinking water. People were very lucky, if they get something at stations to eat. Guys all this was Indian railways two and half decades back. No wonder very few cool guys of this generation will believe this.
Still I used to enjoy all that mess-ups. People used to travel happily with each other. Always ready to help.
Now come present age
You can book a ticket from within comforts of your home. Sitting in front of your computer , booking a ticket seems a kids job.
Yet people have become so selfish and mean that once they book ticket, they think the train is owned by them. People will never care about the co-passengers, they will sing, eat, drink, spit, create a complete mess of the place just because they had paid few rupees in the name of booking the berths. And yes I am not talking about the general traveling class, I am here referring to the so call elite class people traveling in air conditioned coaches. They are one of the most irritating people I had ever faced while traveling.
Early in the morning for their pooja and worship they have freedom to sing aloud to the top of their voices bhajans and aartis without caring for the comfort of co- passengers. This is repeated again in the evening without fail.
Since they got up early in the morning for the pooja, they need to sleep again during daytime and you have to allow them to sleep irrespective of what berth you have.
I wonder about the appetite of few people. How much is enough for a normal human being. They have really got a central processing unit called stomach that needs to be fed all the time. They keep on chewing, drinking and eating as long as they are awake. And that continuous feeding includes soft drinks, poories, namkeens, mangoes (seasonal available fruits), chaats apart from tea, coffee and soups.
It will be helpful if all the traveling people think about the comforts of co-passengers once before starting/performing any of their rituals or activities and that will surely make the Railways travel a memorable one for everyone.