How not to, humour, Narratives

How NOT to get off a crowded Indian Train

I am stuck in the narrow passageway of a general bogie reserved for ladies and my whole life is flashing in front of my eyes. Well, this would have been completely true, had it not been for the woman standing in front of me, whose acute politeness has me, distracted. Her voice has staggering intensity; my ears are barely managing to protect my eardrums from crumbling to the symphony of her cuss words. I am stuck. She is stuck. Behind me is a long queue (as long as the tiny bogie permits) and behind the meek woman, I am busy listening to, are the wild bison cramming their way into the coach that’s already filled till the brim. “Let us out first!” Another woman behind me screams. And I, both leading and blocking the queue of angry goddesses who want to get off the god damned train, am stuck with my bag engaged in an unbreakable embrace with the luggage of the other woman whose symphony has me hypnotized. All around me are people telling me to move! Move woman! Move! But then I can’t. Funny, I think sometimes that’s how life works as well.

I try to recall how I got into this situation in the first place. Well, it all began with  my decision to board a crowded general bogie. And I guess that’s the end of it. The tiny ladies’ coach is an objectified sexism in itself but of course I am not going to get into that debate. I am probably going to get old here, amidst this friendly crowd and feminism is not something I would like to ponder about right now. Paying my special gratitude to the size of this bogie, my mind wanders to the immediate reason that had caused this chaos – The woman who was sitting on the floor (because obviously we don’t have enough seats), blocking the way to the door and absolutely refusing to apply what’s called the common sense, that is, to get up when a train halts at a station. Ultimately when others tell her to stand and make way, she takes eternity to do the same. And by the time she clears the way for us to move ahead, the passengers on the other side have already started to rush in. And the result of her stupidity? Chaos. Victim? Me.

Move! Woman! Move!
Well I can’t. My bag is stuck. I am stuck. Can’t you see?

The polite woman finally stops shouting and decides to apply her brain. She lifts her bag and I am able to step ahead and also drift my bag forward. But there’s still a long way to freedom. There are too many people inside and now it’s my suitcase that’s creating havoc. As I push myself (and the bag, the god damned bag) forward, I accidentally hurt a small kid who was standing on the way. Her mouth turns into a gigantic O, her cheeks turn blood red and river and its tributaries start flowing from her eyes. I want to apologize. I obviously didn’t mean to slam my bag into her foot but there’s this major part of me who just wants her to shut up. She is a kid and I shouldn’t bear such thoughts but I am never going to be able to get off this train and these women and this noise and this wailing child are turning this place into a hell and I haven’t sinned enough to deserve this (Or so I thought!). I have already started formulating alternate plans. I realize I am never getting off here. So, I start thinking what the next stop of this train would be and how will I get back from there.

Move! Woman! Move!
Woman can’t move. CAN’T YOU SEE!
Woman is stuck in between all these people and shouting doesn’t help.
And amidst this greatest struggle I have ever endured to get off a train, comes a helping hand. But the helping hand isn’t polite either. Helping hand is angry and is shouting too, “Why are you coming out so late? So rahe the kya? (Were you sleeping all this while?)” I lose my temper at this. Now is not a good time for the glare and the taunts. If I just knew how to punch, I would have punched you right across your face. In fact in this moment, I can punch god himself. But I settle for glaring back at my Messiah, the red shirted coolie who is lifting my bag. But he doesn’t shut up. Then something rare happens, “Would you stop shouting?”-  I shout (ironically). I scream so hard, in fact, that my voice breaks like the light splits through a prism. Damn. I immediately regret it but at least the coolie is silent now. When I finally get to get off the train, I feel like I have been reborn. The coolie has placed my bag on the platform and has disappeared. Good, I wasn’t going to thank him anyway. There are still significant traces of anger left inside me. I avoid thinking about the near-fatal swarm of the women. I avoid thinking about the crying child. I avoid thinking about the cuss words I had been showered with. Obviously, I fail. I notice that my breathing has become erratic and I am still a bit dizzy. So, I sit on a nearby bench, take a few deep breaths and make myself believe that I really am alive and safe. Get off the train! That’s all I had to do! Realize how powerful chaos is? Realize how hazardous a heavy and huge suitcase is? Don’t carry a bag that weighs more than you do. Or join a gym and set major weightlifting goals. And yes don’t underestimate the stupidity of your fellow passengers. Avoid crowd! Avoid crowd! Avoid crowd! (This suggestion is, in reality, a sham because there’s nothing in India that’s not crowded.) And that’s how you get off a train in India safely.

***

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food for thought, my life, PATNA CHRONICLES, philosophy

Finally home!

So, here lies the answer of how we finally got home.

A little precap;

Last time you checked we had landed on the Vadodara station. Our tiring journey from Delhi to Vadodara had finally come to an end.

(^To know more details you can read this- What the hell is she talking about?)

But the movie had not ended.

Our destination was Surat, not Vadodara.

We had this general ticket. And even though it takes just about two hours to reach Baroda by train, the prospect of getting into the heavily crowded bogie with our heavy luggage was giving us goose flesh.

But quite bravely, first we did try to sit in a general bogie.

However, the bogie we considered as general was not really general. It was reserved for army and people related to army.

So, when we tried to get in, we were, in simple words, thrown out.

Three individuals who looked hopelessly tired and worn out in every freaking possible way and all these “army” people had got to say was- “Get out off our bogie!”

What kind of army were they if they couldn’t help out a fellow civilian!

Shame on them!

But god was smiling on us from above.

A much more comfortable journey was waiting for us.

And I am glad that we didn’t get into that bogie. Those army people can go fuck themselves ( I have never said this before but I think I will mention it once hoping that it would be enough for all my previous and upcoming posts- “Pardon my language. I swear a little when I write but I can’t help it. )

So, the train we had almost boarded departed. But there was another train that was about to depart soon. What we did was -we sort of bribed the TT, requested him to give us seats if they were available. (We here mostly consists of my brother and sister, I was just a silent spectator the whole time)

As it turned out, the seats were indeed available. And we got to travel the ending two hours of our journey breathing the cool conditioned air.

Of course, we had to pay for that but okay we were happy.

Money CAN buy happiness. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

So, this was how the battle ended and a new era had begun in my life. New era is not an exaggeration or just something that I used as a comic literary tool. No, I meant it.

The train journeys will never be the same again.

The Patna City will be never be the same again.

My sister’s life (and mine and my whole family’s life as well) will never be the same again.

It is indeed the dawn of a new era.

And adding cherries on the top is this year…

This year; Oh! It has been a mother of changes! And not just this year, my whole college life (so far) has been dynamic in a way I had never imagined it to be. Of course, I had dreamed of a huge, humungous group of cool kids that I would hang out with. A trip every weekend or every month. Party every night. Amazing hostel life. Countless love affairs. (Oh! why not confess it?) And even with all that I would somehow, be a good student with a future (as bright as sun) as a good engineer.

None of that shit happened.

None of that shit is going to happen.

What happened instead was something I could have never seen coming.

People changed, Circumstances changed, Thoughts changed, Dreams changed, Beliefs changed.

And I never got to be cool.

I never got to be smart.

I never got to be a hero. (I never wanted to anyway)

I never got to be a bitch. (I badly wanted to be a bitch. Being bad is so cool!)

I never got to be what I wanted to be.

But what I got to be is someone whom I had never imagined before;

Me.

Who would have thought?

Ask the 5 year old me about how I see my life fifteen years later and you will know the difference.

And that five year old me is sitting right next to me asking- Who are you?

They are not kidding when they say that college is all about discovering yourself. Three years and I already do not recognize myself.

I have finally discovered it.

I have been too busy screaming sitting on the roller-coaster rides to realize that what I have wanted all along is something quite different from what I wanted myself to want. Who would have thought?

And that is why a new era has begun.

An era wherein I am not somebody’s daughter, not somebody’s sister, not somebody’s student, not somebody’s friend, not somebody’s “utopian vision” but me.

But me.

I hear some of my friends telling me their amazing tales of their awesome happening college life. Until now I was envious as I had found mine quite boring and dull and undesired. But not anymore. My life is not stagnant. It’s always changing.

It’s ALWAYS changing.

I have wasted too much of time not realizing that.

So, here comes a new sun. A sun filled with hope, with new dreams and a new life.

And a new era dawns in my life.

If you have been traveling pretty much the same path as mine then I suggest that you stop now and look back. I hope you will see the things that I have seen.

I hope you see the five year old you standing there barely recognizing you.

Talk to him. Listen to him and you will know the difference.

 

Anyhow, I was finally in Surat I guess. And the Patna chronicles, hereby, ends.

Of course, there should a special edition covering my sister’s wedding out pretty soon. But I can’t say. I don’t usually get to know the stuff I am going to write about until I am writing it. And when occasionally I do, I don’t write it at all.

So, would I really be writing the tale of my sister’s wedding?

We will find out later.

Anyway, back at the topic of my return journey.

The term battle is undoubtedly a little exaggerated for that but traveling such long distances in India is indeed a very painful task.

And it might not be a battle but it is close enough. Therefore, when we finally reached home I did find my inner peace.

Of course, it got lost again pretty soon.

But it was good to be back home.

It is good to be back home.

Though it is a completely different story that now I am pushed into another battle ground but I think that’s just life and the point is -this story has come to an end.

The conclusion being; my vacation has been quite memorable. How about yours?

Signing off,

Theturquoiseink

 

my life, PATNA CHRONICLES, random

The general bogie

So, now we are in Delhi. And quite far away from Patna but the ghosts haven’t left us alone. We have missed our train. And we need to reach Surat.

But how?

Well, here’s how…

The general Bogie tragedy

 

Since getting an AC/ sleeper bogie train ticket a day before is as good as winning a lottery in India, we know that our journey can’t possibly be comfortable.

That’s another Impossible that doesn’t say I’m possible.

We could go by flight but then that would have led us to Bankruptcy.

So, here’s what we do; we decide to go by general bogie. If you are an Indian, then this statement would have brought tears in your eyes. And if they haven’t then your heart is made of stone.

Fourteen hours journey in a general bogie; Oh! My sad little life.

But by this time god has softened a bit on us. When we boarded the train at New Delhi Station, it was pretty much empty and we got seats quite easily.

But General Bogie is so crowded that even if you are sitting comfortably on the seat, you can’t really be comfortable. And then there is always that one person around you who would make you consider the possibility of jumping off the train immediately over and over again.

And in our case, we had many.

  • You-mess-with-us and you-are-dead family

These were a bunch of small vendors. They shipped goods from Delhi to Goa and sold it there. And hence they had a lot of luggage.

They entered the train and almost immediately we hear the heated altercation between the “meals on wheels” food vendor and them which was pretty much regarding their heavy luggage.

The meals guy wanted space for his own items and this luggage family were adamant to make a deal mostly because;

A. They couldn’t. They had so much luggage that even after stuffing them under the seats of various compartments ( wherever there was space) and filling up the whole entrance area, one could find the toilet door jammed with their remaining items.

B.They liked quarreling. They just did.

 

  • I-would-make-your-ears-bleed woman.

This woman had a valid point in getting heated by the way the other woman beside her was sleeping. But what made this woman irritating was that she kept shouting and cursing even after the matter was long gone resolved.

She wouldn’t just shut up.

 

These are the most common kind of people you find in a general bogie. On their defense, I would just like to say that maybe they lose it because they must be pretty darn tired and irritated.

 

But then, these people are the exact reason why the other people around get pretty darn irritated and tired.

 

  • I-would-marry-the-seat guy

I have seen people quarreling over seats before but this person, Oh! he takes it to another level. Not only did he quarrel over  the seat, he also sat on the children who were sitting on the seat he wanted. He gets slapped, he gets cursed at but no! Nothing can stop him from getting that seat.

 

Ultimately, I think another guy offered him his seat and the matter got settled but the Academy award winning scene he created is going to stay on my mind forever.

 

From the early morning to the night, we kept sitting and sitting and sitting.

The hot winds continued to kiss our faces but what could we possibly do to stop it? Our skin was covered by thick layer of dust and sweat. We were hungry and thirsty and so freaking tired. We had spent our whole previous night on the station. I did not even have a novel that could give me refuge in its arms. I had already read the two novels that I had brought.

Traveling in train (that too in general bogie) is adventure in its own. And I don’t think I remember the numerous times I have travelled in AC bogies but I am going to remember this journey.

India is a huge country. And traveling from one place to another has always been quite a problematic issue. You want comfort, then you gotta loosen your pockets. You want to save money, you gotta loose comfort. The number of passengers is augmenting day by day. The number of trains we have is not enough.

And still somehow, Indian railways always manage to be at loss. The prices of the train tickets get hiked every year and traveling becomes costlier and costlier.

And I have no idea why I am writing all this.

My point being; I had a painful journey back home.

And it wasn’t over yet.

The train we boarded did not have a stoppage at Surat. And so we had this task of boarding another train from Vadodara to Surat.

And most probably again in general bogie.

And this time we knew that we wouldn’t find a single seat to sit. And with the kind of luggage we had, it could prove fatal.

So, did we make it to our home alive?

To find out whether I am writing this from heaven or not, you can read –

Patna Chronicles;Dawn of a new era -The fourth and the final part of Patna Chronicles series.

 

P.S.The general bogie tragedy has nothing to do with Patna but I still connect the city to it because if our train hadn’t got late then we would have had a comfortable journey back to home.

humour, my life, PATNA CHRONICLES, random

Patna, the Hotel California

If this has got you thinking in any way that I am going to compare Bihar with California, then just grab a gun and kill me. Ping me on facebook and I will give you my full address and the right time when you can break into my house and do the honors. I will leave the doors open. And my last wish probably will be to let me listen to Coldplay. Any of their songs will do, but if you play the songs of Ghost stories then I will be grateful (I haven’t got enough of that album).

But apart from discussing my murder and last wishes plans, I have a lot to tell you and one blog post is not going to be enough. So, this is part one of my PATNA CHRONICLES series – PATNA CHRONICLES; The battle begins. And it is going to about (as the title suggests) this city named Patna.

So, lets get started!

Patna is one of the most ancient cities of India and it is a great city to remember but for all the wrong reasons…
Which, by the way, are…
(Disclaimer;

What gives me right to bitch about this city is the fact that I have been there and secretly found it amazing as well. Non-Biharis and Biharis but Never-been-to-Bihar Biharis are, in my opinion, simply not eligible to comment about this state. And the reason behind this is that their opinions are quite ridiculously based on stereotypes and their own imaginations.So, if this post hurts anyone in anyway (which I don’t think it should) then, don’t spit on me and show me how dearly you love your motherland. We are on the same page; I am just a little less of a patriot. But I love this place in my own way.)

Patna and the traffic tragedy

We have got a train that departs at seven in the evening and we reached Patna at around 3.
Well, we ALMOST reached Patna around three.
Oh! The difference one small little word can make!
Patna has been blessed by the great river -Ganga. It embraces it like a mother meeting her son after a long long time. And who wouldn’t appreciate that! This river pumps blood into this city. But this great river has a great bridge over it named Gandhi Setu. And this bridge, built over one of the greatest rivers of the world, sadly is the greatest tragedy that could ever befall on the face of humanity.

It was designed by the same person who built Guantanamo Bay.

I am telling you, it is indeed that torturous.We were stuck there for three freaking hours and that too because we were in luck. I am not afraid of death anymore but I am afraid of bad luck. Because if good luck means those three and the half hours then I can’t even imagine what  bad luck can be!

When I called Gandhi Setu Bridge great, I wasn’t just using the adjective as sarcasm. It once indeed used to be the longest bridge in Asia. It is 5.5 km long! You don’t come across a bridge this long quite often! Though yes, nowadays, it suffers through a horrible fate. It is supposed to be a two way bridge and at some point it cease to be one because you know one of its incoming lane is a little broken. And by a little broken, I mean like a whole part of bridge is missing there. And that is where the tragedy befalls. Obviously.

The two way becomes one way. And what we see all the time is a huge, huge traffic Jam.

I have grown up in a city of flyovers and broad roads. I had never known in my life what real traffic jam was. And now do I not know it!
Traffic and roads are one of the major problems in Patna. Not just in Patna, but in whole Bihar. Roads are the lifelines of economy.

A city needs good roads.
A village needs good roads.
A village and a city need a good road in between them. That is an absolute necessity.
Unless and until a good network of roads exists how a state can ever make progress!

In Bihar you don’t need to look out for thieves or murderers or any other criminals. These are not the real threat. In Bihar people can be quite friendly and polite. And the probability is quite high that they will treat you good. What you really need to fear once you come here is; Means of transport. The time ceases to exist here. Minutes will turn into hours.

An hour journey could be quadrupled. And that is quite normal. You may not come here with money but you have to come here with a lot of time.

The traffic tragedy on Gandhi Setu Bridge is an everyday issue. And it will continue to be one until it is repaired or the other bridge is completed. Till then every time you happen to cross Gandhi Setu, I just hope you are not in car but just taking a casual walk. But of course, if you are sitting inside a well air conditioned car and have your IPods on then you are good to go. In my case the situation was not exactly the same so yeah, the very name of the bridge still brings me nightmares.

To conclude-In the end, we had to throw ourselves out of the car, grab our stuff, go down and walk over to the other road and catch an auto.

Patna; The traffic tragedy returns

So, okay its 6:50 already and our train is set to depart on 7:15.
We have left the car and we are inside an auto.And guess what follows us here as well!

The Traffic!

Of course, the traffic didn’t end at the Gandhi Setu Bridge.

Its vicious web was spread all over the city. We are running and running but Oh! In a web spun so well how could you ever escape!The adrenaline level has started to get a little high inside our bodies but the traffic continues to torture us very much like the way Bellatrix tortured Hermione. Only this time there were no forbidden spells but sweet symphony of Horns and fragrance of Carbon mono/dioxide.
We are silently praying and though the traffic continues to give us whiplashes, I still know that somehow we will make it to station in time. Some things you just know.

And hell, did we not MAKE IT IN TIME!

Patna; The traffic tragedy v/s The train tragedy

As it turned out, we did not just make it in time; we made it too early in time!
When we reached the station, a pleasant surprise was waiting right there with its arm wide open, ready to greet us with a compassionate irony and sarcasm.
Our train was five freaking hours late.
And that is how fate makes fun of you. The bloody bullies.
The train tragedy in Bihar is ancient.
It’s the heart and soul of Bihar.
You boarded a train and it wasn’t even a single freaking hour late?
Then your “here” is not Bihar Dude! There is no way it could be Bihar! That is one impossible that can never say I’m possible.
So, the list of what you should look out for in Bihar is updated with one more thing;
Trains! They will make fun of your watches in such a horrible way that your watch will commit suicide.
(For the college freshman who happens to read this; you ask what Ragging is. ^That my friend is the ragging which should be illegal.)
And even though we made it to a happy ending, in the end, it turned to be a tragic one anyway.

Patna: The Traffic Tragedy just got served and the train tragedy rules all over the Bihar.

So, we have to reach Surat from Patna. But we don’t have a direct train. We have to go Delhi from Patna. And from Delhi we were supposed to board another train to Surat.
There was eight hour margin between the two trains and we had thought that that would be quite sufficient.
But fate was rolling on the floor laughing at us.
Our Patna to Delhi train was already five hours late. But we had hoped that it will cover during the night because trains like Gareeb rath get preferences and generally they are not delayed.
And even if they are, it is never more than two or three hours.
But of course, we were proved wrong.
In the end, our train wasn’t just 5 hours late, it was 12 fucking hours late.
12 hours!

T-W-E-L-V-E H-O-U-R-S!

While booking the tickets, could anyone see that coming?
Can anyone?
But, oh, yes, you can. When you are talking about Bihar, you totally can. And now I have learnt that quite remarkably well.
So, we couldn’t board on our Delhi to Surat train, because at the time it departed, our train was cradling us in a most torturous way far far away.
So, you might ask at this point that how did I get to Surat ultimately?

Well, that’s another story that deserves another blog post and here it is to quench your curiosity; Patna Chronicles-the battle continues.

Till then let’s end it here and end it like old times.

And by old times, I mean this-
So, kids what was the moral of this story?
The moral of the story was-
Patna is a sweet little Hotel California.
“You can check in anytime you want but you can never leave”   

And if you do try to check out, then ghosts follow you and haunt you until you are shit scared and shit tired and you are crying your heart out- “ I JUST WANT TO GET HOME!! LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Trust me, I have seen those ghosts.

P.S. To read the next part of the series you may click here; Patna chronicles-the pre-battle scenario.