Rail gaadi journey

When you plan your travel, you probably check for availability of flights for a particular date or in your preferred airline; but when it comes to us, google knows what’s coming as it waits with anticipation and fear. And here it comes with a few recognizable keystrokes – “cheapest flights available from May – June anywhere in India”; google murmurs “cheapo.” Thanks to budget airlines, these days even we are seen in airports in orange trousers and fluorescent green shirts holding a plastic bag which reads ‘super deluxe wine shop’. But prior to that there is one more ritual, telling the entire world “yup booked my tickets, going to Delhi” with a satisfactory grin as we continue “you know May – June is an excellent time to visit Delhi.” Sun beats down on Rajpath as people proclaim “this is the end of the world,” but we, bravehearts, unfazed by the tyranny of sun, loiter around India Gate aimlessly at 47 degree temperature with an ice-cream in one hand and a balloon in another – life rocks!!!

You should have guessed it by now that flying high is not our preferred mode of travel, for that we always bank on that good old rail gaadi. Words cannot describe the euphoric feeling of being on a railway platform surrounded by like minded people spitting everywhere and searching for a corner to address nature’s call; it’s home coming for us!

A month before the journey we meticulously prepare a list of cheap hotels near Paharganj, collect phone numbers of people staying in Delhi who we met once in a shop, ‘maps of Delhi’ is now part of our precious collection of books, and of course how can the preparation be complete without an air-pillow. On the D-day we reach station minutes before the schedule departure time maneuvering through the crowd displaying high level of acrobatic skills, buried under luggage filled with items which were never used in the history of human civilization. Coolie cannot pick our bags as the gravitational pull can only be challenged if certain conditions are fulfilled e.g. the item in question is not heavier than the challenger. And hence after a valiant attempt they usually retreat from the scene without uttering a single word with a perplexed gaze, so we are always on our own. After creating a spectacle for the viewers we enter a compartment, yes any compartment because we don’t have a valid ticket and that’s the thumb rule if you want to make your train journey a memorable one. So from here on it’s all about skill and execution. So being a certified without ticket traveler, let me walk you through the procedure.

Once you enter the compartment try to analyze the situation and feel the vibe. Oh no, don’t even look at the girl with a wish to strike up a conversation, it doesn’t give a good impression to start the proceedings; there are two possibilities:

  1. You have been through this situation before i.e. humiliation in front of 20-30 amused spectators and you will have to live with this Shakti Kapoor image for the rest of your journey. There will be couple of compassionate glances with a silent “thank you for taking the initiative and saving us” but no one will talk to you.
  2. With an expression which would give Lalita Pawar a hard run for her money, she might say “hi”. Congratulations, you have just created 20-30 enemies around you who will closely monitor each and every activity of yours from now on with hawk eyes.

So control all emotions and focus on your basic need first i.e. a place to sit. Remember it’s virtually impossible right now to differentiate between you and the hawkers in the compartment with your current status; standing there with bags on your shoulders looking at the passengers with a plea on your face, so get on with the job. Look for innocent faces and quickly start short listing them; avoid healthy people. Try to be extra nice to that muscular guy by taking out a 10 rupees note from your wallet (preferably torn) and giving it to him saying “I guess you dropped your money there.” It might be of immense help later in case you get thrashed by everyone in the compartment, he might just stay away from this public outrage. Now start your campaign with those shortlisted candidates. Go there, make your face as weary and tragic as possible and like a professional beggar implore “can I sit here for sometime?” Spread your luggage throughout the compartment and make it impossible for people to walk because of your luggage. They themselves will push your bags under the seat; so you chill.

At night when everyone is getting ready to sleep and you are standing there like an unwanted salesman with a stupid smile, it’s time to pull another rabbit out of your hat. Buy two cups of tea and approach that lonely guy looking at that girl with moist eyes, offer him the tea with a sympathetic nod “I can understand.” Carefully formulate your questionnaire and start with the following one:

“So, where you from?” Don’t bother about the answer, you are not going to his house. Prepare you next question.

Following a series of questions, and once he is done with his break up story come to the point:

“These seats are quite wide, two people can easily sleep here.”

Check his reaction now and hurl the final blow

“Would you mind if I sit in one corner just tonight?”

Make sure you constantly stare at that cup of tea just to remind him that…yeah. Don’t get nervous and blurt out “can I sleep with you tonight?” Stay calm throughout the process, he might allow you to sit in one corner of his berth. You know what to do next; gradually expand your territory while he sleeps till you occupy 75% of the seat. However, if he says no then ask for that 5 rupees, which you paid for tea, citing change issue.

Wait for the TT to come. He would completely ignore you, but you know the reality. He hasn’t come to check tickets, he has come specifically for you. Stand in a quiet corner just like a drug peddler awaiting his arrival. They come, they see and eventually succumb to their financial needs; it’s a win-win situation. Once you get a berth, change your attitude, you are not a beggar anymore. Now the next step, this is the image rebuilding phase. Take out some business magazines, don’t worry no one will get to know that you are actually going through the ads. Few people will hold out their hands “may I?” You will be delighted to see that even they take as much interest in ads as you do. As a contingency plan you might want to carry few …. ummm… not so widely accepted magazines as it’s always not possible to perceive the taste of your co-passengers. Completely ignore the person who allowed you to sit earlier. May be you can tell him “would you mind taking your hanky off my seat?”

When the train enters its destination, disregard the stern glares of your co passengers and disembark on the platform in the open arms of taxi drivers, auto drivers, and hotel guys. For a second you might think that they were in some way related to you in your previous life; there are good people in this world.

About Debajyoti Ghosh

You can follow +Debajyoti on Google Plus and on Twitter @devjyotighosh.

Comments

  1. You brought traveling through a train down to a science :D Publish this as a paper in a journal man ;)

  2. Ho ho ho :) what a journey in the apni rail gaddi :)
    I was waiting for the entry of the TT :) the last time i trvalled by train was 2008 I think from bhubhneshwar to Kolkata.. I was to go by flight but when i went ot airport the flight was cancelled , had no choice but rush to station and get into the train .. as had a flight to catch from KOL to delhi and then Delhi to UK :) was suppsoed to spend a night with friends in kolkatta .. ended up sleeping in train .. THe best part is

    since i had no reservation I got into the train it was a first class ka dibba, The TT came and when i asked him to get him , looking at me his words were “Yeh mehenga ho jayega, ” I probably looked like a beggar or my face was such … and i was like HAINNNNN.. whats that …

    sadly did not have any Female co passenger with me so had no enemies for the entire journey .. :)

    made me smile this one ..

  3. was this worth the wait or what???

    super! i had a chuckle plastered on my face throughout

  4. Brilliant one man. :) Loved the way you started off about air travel. Was hilarious and yet so true!

    And you painted so vivid a picture about the train journey that it almost came alive in front of me. Brought back several wonderful train moments. I guess you can write a book on “Art and Science of Train Travel (without tickets)!”

    One super-hilarious read!

  5. I love the idea of giving a ten rupee note (the torn one ha ha!) to the muscular guy, just in case…

  6. this was hilarious!

  7. Hey Deb,

    I remember travelling from Bombay to Pune quite often by train… have to say it was a very different experience for me. Maybe it was the gender difference. I would generally get offered a seat right away. The TT never had any issues either, with me travelling without a ticket. The advantages of being a girl, never are they more evident than when you are travelling by train without a ticket in India :D

    • well i haven’t seen too many girls traveling without ticket, they usually have everything planned in advance :D. long journey things r usually more fun but probably these days things have become a little different and thats why ppl avoid train especially girls.

  8. I find it tough to write humorous pieces and you have mastery over it.
    Thoroughly enjoyed the ride!

  9. Loved it. Hilarious. May I interest you in one I wrote on the same subject two years back:
    http://sunbyanyname.blogspot.in/2010/11/great-indian-train-journey.html

  10. Such details! I believe u must have travelled without ticket at least once–or is it only imagination?

  11. ha ha ha heh heh hehilarious. Never thought ticketless travelling would be so much fun. :-D

  12. Great one, Debajyoti. Fantastic writing. I really loved each and every satire.

  13. You should continue writing on these train journeys :-)

  14. awesome post Deb ..

    i went only once in train while i was travelling from hyd to delhi and that was my worst experience of my life as i travelled alone for nearly 32 hours without a break.

    i kind of preferred to go by flight since then anywhere across India !

    regards
    rahul

  15. Hitchhikers guide to Indian Railways! I loved the part about the TT. Somehow I’ve never been able to pull out that swine out of my hat! But wait, aren’t we missing something here? How could we forget the scent of a toilet!

  16. Haha…loved reading this! you have a way with words n humour! :D

  17. LOL awesomely hilarious!! esp the girl wala part.. and teehee good to get the guy with the great body on ur side, so that he stays away from the public outrage LOL!! Loved this post, came over from sujatha’s comment on a similar post of maniac hunter!a journey it is! phew!

  18. hee hee hee, i can totally understand. been there done that ;) *hi5*

  19. Splendid Deb.. Clever idea paying the muscular guy! Great writing :)

  20. Ah,…those good old days ! loved reading it :) ( I think, I should make this my signature for your write ups ;) )

  21. Really funny…reading your blog makes me feel like I am reading through mine…so nostalgic and so real…

    • thank u so much for this wonderful comment. unfortunately u picked the one which i didn’t proofread, not that it would have made any difference.

      the other day i was reading that post of yours ‘unabashed’ and for some strange reasons it made me smile. it was funny yet so true.

      • Awww…Thank you so much…I am still new to the whole indiblogger world…trying to get around slowly…

        • oh this is the best blog directory/blogging network on earth. i didn’t have any visitors before i joined indiblogger. and now i do get few visitors :)

          and i m not able to find ur blog on indi now. i ll search again and add u. will go through all ur posts. cheers :)

  22. aaaye Debjyoti… :P aisa kaisa re tum travel karti? kaayku panga leti TT k saath…. mast mein booking karti na aur fir nikalti… though humko samajhti ki wahan pe aisa mumbai jaisa suvidha nahi hoti…. :P achcha likthi tum…. dill garden garden ho jaati… hamara Indian Railways ka baatein, aisa andaaz mein padti…. :P :P

    • thank u for the garden garden comment :D. well, railway journey was fun. of late, i have traveled only once in train and it was not that great. may be i ll try once more and see if i can get the same fun.

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