Travelling on Indian Railways is an experience one should not deprive oneself of. You get to know the nation, its culture, its people from the confines of your bogie. The general class is often too crowded to let anyone enjoy the experience, the upper classes are too restricted to let the variety in. The best is the sleeper class. Railway rules say that unreserved passengers cannot board the sleeper boogies. But in a democracy like ours, it is the people of the place who make the rules and we aliens travelling through them have to unwillingly adhere.
During my student days I logged thousands of kilometres on the upper berths of the sleeper class. Now, when I can afford a little luxury I have graduated myself to the three tiered air-conditioned class. But sometimes seeing the peacefully asleep co-passengers from my (again) upper berth, I miss the chaos and the cacophony of the sleeper class. But the past experiences of travelling through the badlands of Bihar makes me comfortable in the existing state of things.
One thing I always wondered about is that why can’t most of us travel light. For a holiday of a week we seem to pack our entire wardrobe. I am of the opinion that the Indian Railways should strictly enforce the weight regulations for the passengers. There was this lady in my compartment who spent half of her time anxiously counting the number of items in her luggage and the remainder half in arranging and rearranging them – arguing and occasionally pleading with the other passengers. Then there was this expatriate Indian returning from the gulf with a suitcase the size of a cupboard – which occupied 3/4 of the leg space between the opposing berths.
One word which keeps our diverse nation chugging on its wheels – be it politics or passengers abroad a train. ADJUST. This adjustment or the expectation thereof makes us move forward. The unreserved passenger expects the legal seat occupants to adjust a bit so that he can reach his destination. The overloaded aunt expects her excess baggage to be adjusted. Families travelling together but with distant seats expect us solitary bachelors to adjust in seat adjustment/exchange. Which made me realise the importance of the independent MLA or MP in government formation.
If you are finding this post too lengthy for your reading – this one time please adjust.