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Monday, April 30

Great Train Journey 2

Another long train journey in just over a month...This time around I had my wife too to care care of Neo. So did manage more sleep and few thoughts:-)

Some random observations in no particular order or significance...

1. The humble newspaper is the one true community product. Especially in a railway coach. This is perhaps the only place where people sometimes don't even bother to ask for the paper. They just take and browse. The thank you is implicit, seldom verbalised!

2. Adjust kar lenge. Is perhaps the opening line of most train journeys as passengers begin to arrange their luggage in the compartment. The sweetness of the 'adjust kar lijiye' is directly proportional to the available luggage space!

3. T-bags : the bland equaliser. Till the Taj Mahal and the Tetley tea bags came into circulation, different stations had their own tea flavours and vendors had their distinctive sales andaaz. My favourite was 'Choudhary ki chai' - the adrak spiced milk-tea that I used to get ahead of Bhusawal on train journeys to my college in Surat. Choudhary was a ritual we used to look forward to. He had amongst the most lyrical sales pitch that memory recalls. Had character. A big smile and most importantly good chai.

No disrespect to T-bags; but in one swoop, they have managed to homogenise the tea drinking experience. It's the same bland sugary stuff wherever you go!

4. Graveyard shift As I have gradually migrated to the AC 3/2 tier, the buzz of the sleeper is gone. I never realised that as a nation we are so sleep deprived. A majority of the passengers sleep for the better half of the journey.
Rarely have I encountered the loud conversations/ debates on national politics, cricket and other topical issues which were an essential part of the long 'sleeper' journeys of the past!

5. Purdah-hai-purdah. The other public obsession in the AC 2 tier is the attachment to the purdah(curtains). For an otherwise open, loud, display-friendly and sociable nation, I find this cocooning inside the train purdah quite perplexing! Any insights here? Reminds me of the 'purdah' people had in the good ole Ambasador!

6. The Charger as ice-breaker. Saurabh in his post had pointed out on the ice-breaking qualities of the Nokia charger! I too had first hand experience when a portly Auntyji intruded our purdah with a warm -"Beta tumhara charger kaam kar raha hai kya". And thus ensued a relay race. Between the saas and the heavily sindur-ed bahu, they charged 3 mobile phones! Like good train Samaritans, hum thoda sa adjust kar liye:-)

But for the techno-social effects of mobile phones, mp3 players and laptops...many of the rituals of the train journey are intact...

However, the journey itself has irreversibly changed. With the constant beep of cell phones and the tracking by anxious family members, you are never on your own/ alone.

Yet again I missed the timelessness and the lost in wilderness feel...Promise to myself - Will keep the cell phone switched off for all the 30 hours next time!!

6 comments:

jigs said...

hey Man! Posting a comment after a while. Nice thoughts pal. I crave for a train journey even more now. But i guess an AC compartment doesn't really match up to the experiences of the non-ac variety. The free-for-all corridors there have more juicy and pedagogic matter :D

Have a nice time, see ya in office.

Manish said...

am glad you pine for the train journeys...must go on a longer one next time!

meraj said...

lovely post..some from my many travel experiences:

- hate travelling on the famous rajdhani, as the attendents keep waking you up for chai/breakfasts etc. and if they dont succeed, over-friendly co-passengers manage to do so by saying stuff like 'arre aapka naashta thanda ho raha hai...uthiye aur khaaiye na'
- unlike most long journey train passengers, i am a quiet traveller curled up with a book (actually, the propensity to talk keeps decreasing from a sleeper to ac 1st class) but many a times, i have been posed question like 'aap raasta bhar kitaab hi padhte rahiyega? baat vaat nahi kariyega?'
- this was popular a while ago...a bunch of yong people (mostly guys looking out to eye pretty chicks in different bogeys) walking up and down evey one hour.
there are many more such associations from the charming long train journeys...think i shall also dedicate a post to it on my blog.

cheers!

Manish said...

good ones Hasan...yes do that. that will be nice. actually i think even i have more stuff for the great train journey #3:-)

i hope a decade later, little boys and young men/ women wud still want to go on long train journeys...It just might be the end of an era for a segment of society!

gledwood said...

Hi! I found you at random just pressing "next" and up you came! I went to India about seven years ago. The one train journey I did was from Chennai to Bangalore. Wow! That was the poshest train I have been in, honestly, anywhere in the world! And I have taken trains in five countries. India is an amazing place. I would seriously love to go back ...I keep blogs too. My main one is gledwood2.blogspot - my online diary. The other 2 are video blogs with comedy and music. You're welcome to drop by any time. I'm online on Gabbly later this evening if you want to say hi - See you there maybe!

Gleds

Gledwood Vol 2

Manish said...

hey gleds ...thanks for sharing your india story! why dont you plan a visit to india ! was very busy these past few days . will definitely check your blog. cheers