Tuesday, January 02, 2007

No full stops in India

Have you ever travelled in a 2nd class compartment of a train or what is called the GENERAL compartment these days? Or better still, have you ever travelled in a passenger train? If you haven't, then you might fnd this funny. If you have, then you might not. I had the unenviable previlege of travelling in a passenger train this winter. The kind of stuff that no fairy tale is made of. One of the most harrowing experiences of a lifetime. I was accompanying my dad on his Nepal visit. The first and the much longer part of the journey was mighty peaceful and pleasant. We got down at Gorakhpur. Then started the second leg of our tour which was travelling from Gorakhpur to Sunauli which lies on the Indo Nepal border (a border for namesake). The official railway time table said that it should take us three hours. The train was to depart from the last platform of the Gorakhpur junction. And what a platform did it turn out to be! There was not a single vendor to be found. The entire platform was littered with garbage, rubbish, rags and yes.. human faeces !! The Almighty was kind enough and the train , believe it or not, was on time. As the train chugged in, the sea of humanity dotting the platform, came into motion. We were prudent enough to have a coolie with us who managed to get us a couple of seats, though not at the same place. The train left after what was close to an hour and the thought of getting over with the ordeal in a time span of three hours soon evaporated into thin air. I was sharing my four seater with six other good fellas and i was literally hanging on the edge of the seat. Facing me were three Nepali dudes- in the good, the bad and the ugly ishtyle who kept cracking some incomprehensible Nepali jokes and laughed at the expense of the other cubicle mates. Nobody was bothered though. Within moments, the interior of the train was fetid with sweats and farts. "Love in time of cholera" no longer was worth a read as i quickly pushed it within the bag. All the time, i tried to breathe as less possible specially curtailing the inhalation process. The conversation between the people occupying the same cubicle as me ( there were no less than twenty five) varied from the mundane to the worldly wise. The marriage season, the upcoming elections, kabul express, katrina kaif entering the ajmer dargah in a skirt to india's debacle at south africa- everything came under the scanner of the learned and the not-so-learned. Much of the train had soon become a garbage dump. The floor was littered with "chiniya badam", "bhelpuri", betel stains n some unidentifiables. And GAWD !! there were two goats as well that had been tied near the wash basin rendering it useless. Then i committed the cardinal sin of deciding to use the train toilet to relieve myself. The toilet had masses of shit, overflowing and spread liberally all around. For the next few hours that image and that stench stayed with me: when i ate and when i drank. Meanwhile the train strolled at its leisurely pace stopping at every possible place where there was even a sign of the Indian Railways - and that included some strategically positioned trees as well. All this while the person sitting beside me, who was obviously drunk, kept using me as a leaning support. The lil ones accompanying their kith and kin also find their predicament unbearable and soon they were puking all around. I almost felt like passing out. Finally after five hours of a gruelling journey ( my watch said it was five hours but mentally must have been much much more) the train stopped at the decrepit railway station. Alighting from the train consumed some ten more minutes and i looked skywards. God had the last laugh and it started to drizzle giving UP's cold an even greater bite..

25 comments:

exclusively_me said...

WHHAT???? 2 GOATS tied to the wash basin??? ok I almost laughed when i read that one.But yeh i can definitely understand what u went through.The worst of the public loos can be found in Indian railways' trains.....makes me wanna puke!!!!!!!!
with heartfelt sympathies and empathies...
exclusively_me

SaI KRisHna said...

hey well ... first of all i love the way u write .... awesome indeed !!! ... i could imagine the scene entirely :D thanks to ur vivid description .... well very much to the contrary was the trip to jaisalmer from jodhpur ... we got seats in the passenger dabba ... also the nearby luggage compartment was empty so we shifted there as the door was wide to accomodate 4 .... and it was real fun ... thanks to the low population density of rajasthan .... abbe u write real well !!!

SaI KRisHna said...

and i dont like generally cribbing abt the prevalent conditions unless one has experienced it urself or can change it :P .... it is not directed towards u :)

arunabh said...

@exclusively_me
yeah, believe it or not, 2 GOATS were actually tied to the wash basin :D. n for sanity's sake i dint talk bout the peopl who lined the tracks to disembowel.. common sight for indian rly passengers !!
n cannot more agree with you.
thanks for the sympathies n keep visiting:)

@sai
ohh thanks you so much dude !!
Lucky u. I have generally travelled through states where the population density is abnormally high. Morever, the stretch between gorakhpur n sunauli has nothing special to offer in temrs of scenic beauty except for people lining up near the railway tracks to disembowel :)) in sharp contrast to rajasthan

n i knw u dint target me ...saala ;)
keep visiting :)

Aneesha Pillai said...

Hey...amazing read...Your style is captivating...Stark reality garnished with ample dose of humour makes it engrossing!!!!

NObody cares..all we do is blame the concerned officials..preach how western countries are better and move on...India hai..yahan sab chalta hai..!!:))

sun said...

Being a Gorakhpuri..Accept my sincere apologies

Yashika Totlani said...

Entertaining description of the train fiasco... and NO, 'm not mocking your miseries. My best pick-

"Within moments, the interior of the train was fetid with sweats and farts. "Love in time of cholera" no longer was worth a read as i quickly pushed it within the bag. All the time, i tried to breathe as less possible specially curtailing the inhalation process. "

Had me in splits! Guess the rosy picture of the indian railways has been rightfully shattered to pieces (for good) now :)

The loo description and all reminded me of my train to nagpur... THE same (even though it was an a/c three tier compartment)!! The stench still troubles me whenever I look/hear/talk of a train :(( Harrowing experience, to say the least. Good to see someone voicing similar concerns/opinions/views...

arunabh said...

@aneesha
thanks a lot :)
really wot cud have i done ? n specially as u said , knowing tht in india "sab chalta hai", it wud have been uselss :D
keep visting :)

@sun
naah naah its the only the last platform tht is ill maintained. Otherwise Gorakhpur railway station is really good considering the number of people who can be seen thr at any instance of time ( evn surpasses delhi). So apologies frm my side :)
may i know who u are ? n do u blog?

@yashika
yeah very unwillingly i had to change my opininion a wee bit.But tht doesn't mean tht i no longer love travelling by the indian railways. Indian railways is still by far the best way to know India. And well ac coaches might not afford u the better details :P
keep visiting :)

Anonymous said...

hey dude !!
another grumbling post. so much on expected lines :p but you sure have got a way with da words. made me wonder where shoulda you land up once you are finished with the graduation.
Belive me ( n pllssssss dont say you dont), i read it thrice :)

~prachi

Anonymous said...

GODGIRI !! keep it up man :)

tulika said...

hey hi !!
rem'ber ma... dis tulika over here :D
am prachi's pal n the one who accompanied her :)
moi became a real big fan or ac ( tee hee hee hee) of yours ever since ma came 'round ya blog. keep blogging dude :) dis was so hilarious and still so poignant ...

JITIN said...

my goodness gracious me!!! my sympathies are entirely with you buddy!!! i had such a bad & eerie feeling just on reading that desription, i can't even imagine what u must hv felt... really creepy stuff man!!!
but on the positive side... another engrossing & heart rending narrative from "mr.blogger", now thats ur nickname buddy... hope u like it!!!
keep it up...

arunabh said...

@prachi
i am so flattered dudette :P
keep visiting :)

@anonymous
thanks mate !
kep visting :)

@tulika
ofcourse i do. thanks gor fanning me n thanks for the comment :)

@jitin
actually the experience was really tough .. but taught me a few things :D. n thanks for the sympathies. And lemme thank you by tonnes for the honour you just bestowed .. am really delighted by my new name :)
keep visiting :)

Anonymous said...

godgiri likkha hai yarr blog mein..u r the best

~jitu

Anonymous said...

WOW !!! finally comes the update after such a longish longish wait !
and what a return to form ala zidane :D
really ossom narrative. liked the whole stuff though was quite pictorially dirty ... yuck :(
~ruchika

Deepti said...

what an adventure u've had!!! goats et al...fantastic!! i am glad u lived to tell the tale... and tho it is real bad publicity for teh IR, i still found it hilarious and shall i say full of genuine distress... not that I enjoyed taht... but u managed to convey it! so consider writing an extensive volume... the travels of arunabh sinha... cheers!

arunabh said...

@jitu
thanks so much dude :)

@ruchika
zidane :O
thanks a lot for the praise.
But yesss it was ACTUALLY dirty and i have for obvious reasons moderated the description
keep visiting :)

@deepti
wow !! u never had been so lavish in your praise. So thanks a million :) Bad publi or not i am happy i lived to tell the real story. And believe me , its still nt the entire picture.
Keep visiting :)

sushobhan said...

are yaar feeling very sorry for ur forgettable and an unpleasant(well unpleasant is an understatement) experience of urs........ anyway nice way to kick off from the hibernation...

Devein said...

very ritely said "those who have travelled ll not be delighted to read this"....it bought back my fst n last exp. of passenger train..some drops of my neighbour's bloodyy peeing kid fell on my pants yar...

arunabh said...

@sush
thanks mate. and high time you came out of your own hibernation :)
keep visiting :)
@devein
:)) :))
abey yaar... kids will be kids. Lucky to have brought back memories of tht awful first n last journey tht u undertook
keep visiting :)

Winona said...

Interesting to know.

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