Not-so-serious but very strict disclaimer:
*The following article is not a pure imagination of the writer. He has copied from real life incidents. He holds no responsibility for any claims of copying being made… cause he is not a responsible person.
*The writer does not smoke… but finds “Goldflakes” really appealing.
*The writer does not drink… but for those who do, he will suggest the pub at Street 13. It has excellent variety and service.
*The writer is not a flirt… but if a pretty, charming, honorable, respectable and beautiful young lady gets impressed by his writings, he is quite interested.
*The writer would like to ask out Miss S. to go out with him… and if her boyfriend is reading this, the author would indignantly add that he is just joking.
*The author hopes he will not be beaten up for what he writes. In a sorry case he got flattened for writing a love letter… and would like to forget the incident in its entirety.
A lot of curious things happen around us. I try to find an explanation to them. And if I can’t find an explanation, I try to offer one myself. And very recently, my curiosity was engaged with the rule of seat ownership (or the lack of it) in the general bogie of a train inBihar.
As providence played it out I was to board Vaishali Express from Barauni junction. In a pre-thought… seems to be an easy task. Isn’t it?? You go to the ticket counter. You take the ticket. You go to the respective platform. And get yourself seated in a general bogie.
To get a seat in the general bogie in a train going out to a metro in Bihar is real test of your human management skills. In fact if you have managed to arrange a seat for your kin, the respect for you in the family would increase manifold. A friend of mine lost a part of his father’s farmland to a well-wisher of the family. And this just cause his father got too happy with the seat-fetching capacity of the man and donated him a good share of his farmland, which my friend considers unfair till date.
A person who manages to get a seat (or rather, conquer it) looks upon those who travel standing with an air of supremacy and their expression full of malice, accusing the standing-passengers of incompetency and not allowing sufficient fresh air to come to those who are sitting.
Then the condition of the sleeper class is just as awful. Those with a confirmed ticket disown the waiting ones. They will inquire about it, and on knowing that you are the-passenger-with-a-waiting-ticket they will scowl, and look upon you as if you have done some criminal offence. The very selfish nature of the vile human self is in full display. When night arrives, and sleep takes over all of us, the one in waiting ticket drool and hallucinate in sleep, not finding a place to sit, lie or just to lay their body on. It is then, that I have seen one the most horrific sights of my life… one that tore through my ears and eyes into my heart and left me deep absorbed in thoughts.
I was traveling from Bokaro to my home then. There were this father and son in the same bogie as mine. I was on the side upper berth, having quite a horrific time with my dreams when my slumber was intervened by some heart-touching pleadings…
“ baccha hai sir.. baccha hai saath me.. kahan soyega “
A meek looking man, in his forties, was standing before a T.T.E, his hands folded in request, his expression of utmost prayer.
“baccha hai sir.. raat me sir kahan soyega.. sir ek berth khali hai.. de do sir.. waiting hai”
The son stood there, behind his father, holding him by his waist. The boy was hardly in his teens. The gravity of his countenance, I have not forgotten, and may never be able to forget. A dad is a boy’s hero… his ideal… his inspiration.
And to see his father folding hands and pleading like this was ripping him apart.
And the fact that his father was pleading for him tore his insides. His eyes read inability to grasp the situation, perhaps, he was still to come to terms with what was happening.
I sincerely prayed the T.T.E.’s death then… cause not giving a seat or checking tickets is his discretion… but… hell… humiliating a father in front of his son like this is not included in humanity books. The very same T.T.E. would have given away vacant berths trading money. But that what he was doing, I considered misanthropic.
I don’t really know what happened to them… they walked out of the bogie, pleading. But ever since, if I am in a position to allow a waiting person share my berth, I sincerely do so. I find it hurting how we disregard those who are in waiting ticket. It’s no problem with the money factor. A person who can buy a waiting ticket can buy a confirm ticket. There’s no price difference. Its just about when the person got the ticket. Or it may be an emergency travel.
Next time you deride a person for having a waiting ticket… please think of the father-son incident.
So.. as I said… I was to board the Vaishali Express and as my previous ventures without a ticket have not been the most remembering kind, I decided to indeed get a ticket. So after fifteen minutes of superhuman effort and relentless shower of curses from my mouth, I went to the ticket counter. The sight was what would send the noblest hearts on the planet in fits of hysteria. There were people all over and all around, and the whole hall was full to every inch. Of the three ticket counters there, it was impossible whose line ended where. Among all general laws of the society that govern the behavior of the Indian people on a sober side, each one was being violated there.
I stood there, confused. I looked up, around and on all sides. I have grown up to be piled upon with opinions that I am quite logical in my approach, but then and there the opinions did not seem to hold good.
Amidst the flood of people, I could not make out the end of the line that started from the ticket counter. After doing a detailed examination, I concluded that the queue was a full circle indeed, and that you had to get in it from any point possible on the circumference. This I did, with some logical choice making. I had a look at all the men, who stood there, and I quickly spotted the most meek looking, easy-to-intimidate person in that hall, and I joined the line just in front of him. He, as would any person provided the right to freedom will, detested my entry, and did mumble a few words like “manners” and “rules”. But before he could stretch his indignation any further, I gave him a hard look (the kind of look you have on your face when the only facebook notification you get in whole day is of an idiotic game request you never want to play). This drained him of his complains and he quietly accepted his intimidation.
Meanwhile, there was some hustle in front of me. A balding, round shaped man in his mid forties stood there, looking over his shoulder and smiling the way I had forced my entry in the queue.
“when I was your age, son.. I didn’t care about the queue.. I would go directly to the counter and get it done like a man gets it done..”, he said in that you-did-it-good-but-i-can-do-it-better tone.
I could sense this self advertising tendency in him. And evil as you may think it to be, I decided to add fuel to the attention seeking fire.
“and why did you stop doing so, uncle.. You still seem so young, so fit… “, I said with an expression of utmost curiosity.
“young though I may seem, brother..” ( I noticed how his address changed from son to brother ).. “I have lived a year too many, and the weight of experience has put some burden on these shoulders, and taken away some of the hairs on my head.. But with age I have learnt to live through rules, and not to let others feel that they have been mistreated.. Its for you all fellas, you see, I don’t want you young men undergoing depression on seeing how a true man gets it done… That is all… Age and experience.. And care for others, mind it”.. He winked, and smiled and turned away to face the line, nodding his head to himself in most satisfying manner.
For next thirty seconds, my attention was diverted by a little boy pulling my legs, begging for a penny. I took out my purse and gave him a one rupee coin. The bald headed, attention seeking forties mid man had seen me doing this, and his self esteem urged him to say something in advice.
“Be careful..”, he said, chewing something and looking at me as a veteran looks at a novice, ” these little ones can get nasty sometimes. Bring you trouble. Never quite worth the sympathy you have. Most of them are thieves, aye, they are”, he said, pausing over to enjoy the look of pretended shock on my face. “They steal stuff you know.. Little devils… And in crowded place as this.. You never know when they’ll run their hands through your pocket.. Which reminds me.. You, brother, put your purse in your front pocket or you’ll be ruined faster that you imagine”
I thanked him for his concern, and told him he was a pious old man (he grunted at this), and I added that young people will get inspired all around him, as I was getting inspired then. I told him that it was really kind of him to help me that way and that, I will keep him in high regards for the rest of my life if he would fetch my ticket and with all his greatness, allow me to go somewhere more airy while he is getting it.
And he had no choice. Words used properly get you more than a loaded gun.
The ticket firmly put and well hidden in my wallet, I ran as fast I could to the platform where the Express was about to come for departure.
There’s a little concept here. In other countries, people board the train when it is standing on the platform. InIndia, and more importantly, inBihar, it would not be possible.
It so happens that the general bogie is in such a high demand that the moment the train leaves the yard to be brought to the platform, it is attacked upon (literally) by passengers who want to secure a seat. People hang on the windows, break in through emergency exits, throw in affordable belongings on the seat… all this… Just to secure a seat before the train arrives at the platform for its scheduled departure.
In general, the following rules (if you consider them as rules that is) govern the ownership of a seat in a general bogie in a train going out to a metro from Bihar:
1. If you manage, by superhuman effort, to put any part of your body on the seat before anybody else, the seat is yours.
2. However, it hardly comes to above condition. The ownership of the seat goes to the person who manages to throw in handkerchiefs, shirts, trousers, books, copies or anything affordable before anybody else can (this weird stuff happens through the window and is most prevalent method of seat occupation).
3. If one is a pretty-charming-honorable-respectable-beautiful-young lady, the seat is hers. The maiden can have the window seat, the middle seat, the door seat (where errands hang in fancied machismo) or any seat she seeks… All she has to do… is to ask.
4. If you can argue and out-argue people, wicked and proper, and if your vocabulary is loaded with foul language, and if you are really that excellent at verbal violence, you can “acquire” the seat.
5. If you personally know the most infamous contract killer in the region, and have means to bring him in your service at the earliest, you can frighten people, and they would vacate the seat for you.
6. If you are a kin of the T.T.E, you can have the seat. You can have the adjacent seat too, or in fact the whole berth, but folks generally decide not to push the limit of a kin’s helping hand too far so they choose to be content with the sin of acquiring only one.
7. If you are a policeman, then hell might be sold out, but there never will be a time when you travel in a general bogie and you don’t have a proper seat to sit on.
* The above conditions are mutually exclusive.
* None of the above cases hold good if a person has a gun in his pocket. That can fetch you the whole bogie. Not the train, though… it will be an exaggeration on my part.(and God be witness, I never exaggerate).
Miraculously, that day I did get a seat… A proper and well defined seat. No,I didn’t throw clothes or jump in from the window. Actually a friend of mine managed to save two seats for us. This feat he achieved by throwing in a hanky and underwear (not the one he was wearing… He threw the first cloth he could find in his bag and those they turned out to be). I meshed through the array of people, one by one, until; finally, I could sit (or rather, drop in).
But there was some trouble brewing in that compartment. Two ladies, well in their twenties (I am seriously guessing here)… were having a deep and animated argument. What I could make from their words, it seemed that both of them were claiming the same seat. When men have a fight, it is pretty much decent. They say few words, and then give away to blows. But with ladies, it is all about verbal violence. They never come to physical violence, but they don’t leave anything untouched in words either. They’ll twist their tongues, modulate their volumes and demonstrate everything with evil gesticulation and awkward expressions. There is enough foul language utilized in two minutes that will make men ashamed.
There, in that bogie, I came across the worst trash talk I have ever come across. When the right to freedom of expression was being laid down, they would not have anticipated that it would be put to such devastating use, nor the purpose of any other freedom right might ever have been so severely diverted.
And never before had decency been publicly murdered so brutally. It was carnage off the language children are taught to use, and punished for violating. I shared these thoughts to my friend, who disagreed. He said it wasn’t the murder of decency… he was rather convinced that it was the post-mortem, and that the two ladies were cruelly doing it.
An old baba was brought to the scene for negotiating. He had white hairs, long white beard and wore white. The daily boarders introduced him as the great baba who could solve the greatest of brawls in minutes, and that he was completely impartial. He had solved sitting issues for decades, but never had been able to secure a seat for himself, and had a permanent position by the toilet door. But everyone went silent as he reached the two ladies. They thought the brawl would soon be over.
I happened to question this assumption. The baba’s appearance betrayed his reputation.
One of the ladies paused her shouting for a moment and asked the baba not to intervene and leave politely, or baba would not like being mauled by a lady. She said she respected his age. The baba said he had good looks too, to which the lady did not agree.
And the trash talk resumed.
The ladies measured each other’s families, cooking skills and living standards. I asked someone to cover baba’s ears, or decades of his stainless living would go down the drain, not to mention the significant (and censored) addition to his vocabulary.
And then something else happened. Something that always happens with me every time that I am travelling. Vaishali express is known never to stop between Barauni and Samastipur. People give oaths of its punctuality throughout Bihar. But that day. It had to stop. Why? Cause some evil minded person might have told the driver that I was sitting in the train.
This happens with me all the time. In fact it has prompted me to write a law about it. It reads like this:
“Anubhansoo’s law of anomaly in train timing states that any train that Anubhansoo has boarded, or will board, has to, by intention or evil providence, is bound to get late”
They carried out their fight throughout the journey. I left the train at Samastipur, but it did leave me thinking. A thought was left somewhere in me, and in my journey back home, I kept thinking about it. About how the ever increasing Indian population and limited income has put things in such a pitiable condition they are. People travel hours… thirty, forty hours in most uncomfortable condition in the general bogie. People cram up in less space and bide their time as the train travels. For some it may indeed be a matter of pride to fetch a seat, but for a person as me… it is really sorry. Indians are not considered the most well behaved people on the planet. And that I have seen in a sleeper class bogie at night when waiting ticket holders are treated as offending prison runaways.
And it indeed is a matter of concern.
No matter how many new trains are declared, but one fact remains intact…
The next time I have to board a general bogie… I will have to throw in a cloth by the window.