Travelling by an Indian long distance train is an experience! Sometimes a hilarious one! Sometimes boring! Sometimes loving! Sometimes an adventurous one! But always a learning experince.
It all depends on how one has decided to travel. With a reservation or not! My readers dont be surprised with such a statement. We, Indians take pride in travelling without a reservation and then keep on boasting about how we got a seat without any reservation till our next trip and a new experience to boast about!
Talking about the co-passengers there are many types you will find on Indian trains. Today let’s know about them and try to acquaint ourselves with them.
1). The Unreserved but Reserved passenger : This type of passengers are quite common on long distance trains. They travel regularly on the same train daily. Yes! They do carry a valid ticket to travel (we call it the season pass here) but they do not reserve any tickets. They just board any compartment and demand to be seated. The most funny part about these passengers is that they behave as the train is their home and the co-passengers their family members. They all will board your train for the next station and talk so loudly and cheerfully that in their excitement of sharing their day to day experiences they forget that they are enlightening (or rather harassing) the other passengers. A classic case study!
2). The helpful co-passenger : An always ready to help person. Trying to help everyone with finding their seats and their family members. Knowing every nook and corner of the train from the seat to the upper / lower deck to the seats which are yet to be filled or their occupants have not boarded the train with some uncanny reasons about the passengers unable to board the train. The person also keeps you entertained during the journey with long stories, short stories, varied experiences and jokes on which one would be forced to laugh. And at the end of your journey you would realise that the passenger was seating on an unreserved seat.
3). Adam and Eve : The best pass time on your train. And if it is to be newly married couple, then you will be entertained till they get down or you get down, whichever is first. They feel and behave in a way that the world around them is non existent and that they are the only two living creatures in this world. Their wishpers, the giggling of the girl, the old exploits being narrated in a loud and boastful voice by the boy, their eye play and their sudden silence on realisation that all the eyes are looking upon them and their exploits. After a few moments of realisation, they drown themselves again in their own personal world.
4). The lone beautiful traveller : I think the most beautiful moments of everyone’s life if you travelling alone too. But She gets the most attention. Instantly, the whole bogie (train compartment as it is called in India) turns toward the lone seat for every type of help. One will see the whole royalty of India descended there. She is treated like a royal princess with many princes and kings trying to woo Her. Every male in the compartment becomes brave yet humble, courageous yet artistic. The fun from getting bottle of water for her or to treating her with a cup of tea is always a delight a watch. The agonising look on the face of the married males, the ‘a little tensed’ face to see a competition on their female counterparts and the puzzling face of their kids about what has exactly happened to Dad, today, is all seen one at a time.
5). The loner : He is the male counterpart of the last type of the passenger, but he is not the attention seeker type nor is he attractive to gain any attention. The look on his face is of a person who is tired of life. The question on his face is of why am I travelling today? The grim look on the moustaches face tome the stern look on the bearded face does not help in communication too. He would just take his window seat and keep looking out through it endlessly. He would neither initiate any communication nor would anyone like to communicate with him. He is just to himself.
6). The family : A complete Bollywood package. A complete entertainer. A more than a lifetime experience. The kids playing with the co passengers. Mom looking to serve her kids with home made food at every possible moment. Dad lost in trying to look into the necessities of the kids and the very next moment, of mom (his wife). I sometimes do wonder whether its truly a family journey where everyone is together but busy with their own work. Everyone has a predefined role to play and entertain all the passengers with their noises of fights and cries. But you will never know where your time flies off with a family together. And yeah if lucky enough get to taste the thepla and chhunda if you have a Gujarati family travelling with you.
7). The vendors : They are not actually the passengers but you see them more, moving around the train, trying to sell their ware. From Khaman – Idli to Groundnuts and chocolates, one can get anything that a person needs nowadays. A new addition to a few trains is a man selling electronic goods on the train at half the prize, than the one which we buy them from outside. There are also those funny type vendors who make one’s journey more enjoyable.
My readers, you all can also go on adding the different types of passengers that you must have come across during your long journeys. They are the ones who make our journey more memorable.
I still remember the Armyman with whom I travelled together all the way from Kurukshetra to Mumbai. His childhood, his parents, his village, his training at the institute, his induction into the Army, especially his platoon. His pride of being a soldier of the Sikh regiment. He was returning home from his first posting and he was excited to share his experiences at the Indo – Pak border. Those 36 hours of travel have been one of the memorable moments of my travel. We didn’t keep in touch, but yes that journey has inked my heart forever.
I just end today, with a hope to write about my train journeys as and when time permits. Please let me know your views about this blog.
PS : Am indebted to my English literature Teacher, late Ms. A COUTINHO for teaching us the Chapter – Travel by Train by Priestley (hope I am right) in our 8th Standard. I still vividly remember about the characters described by the writer and the explanation given by our Miss.