Saturday, September 1, 2012

Journey on Indian Railways

Indian Railways is the world's 4th largest railways network, owned and operated by the Government of India through the Ministry of Railways.
We Indians have coined multiple names for Indian Railways, based on our experience on train journey and cracked multiple jokes on its routine behavior. I am a frequent commuter in the East Coast Division of Indian Railways. I would like to share some of my experiences (P.S. : Only for reading, not interested in offending any person, community or government body).
At Boarding Station:
Every time I reach the station, I have to look around and see whether I am safe or not, as if I am in the most wanted list of beggars. It is not only beggars, but the child beggars, who follow you as bees in the whole station, be it in ticket booking counter, waiting room or the bench on the platform. You will find that they will not leave you, unless until you give them some money. You will find some more number of beggars on the foot over bridge, on platform, on the entrance of the ticket booking counter. You can easily observe that, Indian railways is home to more physically challenged people than any other elderly home.
Now let’s go to the ticket booking counter. You will always find the queue for booking the ticket too long due to the number of opened counters less than required. Either you can stay in the queue to book the ticket or go out in search of an ATVM or VM. In most of the stations you will not fine one. If you find one of them, the probability of the machine working properly is less than 30%. In most of the cases, the machine will be there, but not working, reason unknown... .
On the platform, as most of our stations are not developed properly, you will find more number of unregistered vendors than the registered vendors. They also enter the train without any ticket. Waiting in the platform is really boring. You would be expecting the station announcer to announce the train you want to board, but you will always find that they announce a trains name, which is late by some 8 - 10 hours or so. Coming to the fact of trains coming late, we Indians have coined multiple jokes on it. If you have booked a reserved ticket, then you are lucky and you can easily board the train, otherwise you have to fight the crowd to enter into the train.
In the Train:
If you are traveling in a unreserved ticket, then you will find that a second sitting coach with 108 seats carrying passengers more than 250, people sitting on the luggage carrier, by standing, sitting on the floor, sitting at the gates, sleeping in the hanged blankets etc, apart from the seats where 6 - 7 people sit on a 4 seated bench. This shows people in our country are very much flexible and they can adjust in such scenarios. If you are sitting in a 4 seated bench and some other person comes and asks you to give him space to sit and you refused saying this is a four seated bench, you may get replies like, "6 people sit on this bench, and you have to give space. If you want comfort why did not you book in reservation?"
You will see different kind of people in the train. You will come across blind people begging inside the train in the name of god's grace; children sweeping the train floor and seeking for money in return; children performing different kind of physical act, playing musical instruments like drums, flutes etc; ladies carrying small children and begging for money for their children's food; vendors selling food items etc.
Another major issue faced by most of the travelers is the Hijadas (Kinners). Sometimes they travel in groups and sometimes individual. Now-a-days their torture on passengers has crossed the limit. Some of them ask to give on individuals will. But a major chunk demands money of more than 5 rupees from each passenger. It is not always possible for individual to keep coins to give them. If someone refused to give money, some of the hijadas starts abusing in bad word, try to hit on the private parts of passengers. I am not saying all the Hijadas are bad. But I have faced similar situation while traveling on train. This is a major issue in East coast, South Central and Central railways (Mentioning these names as I have traveled in these routes).
            You must be thinking why I am writing all these as they are common in daily life. Because, I am frustrated with the system.