Friday, May 27, 2005

Wanna adventure? Travel in Indian Railways!

Holiday season is on. Time for travel, masti, adventure. Older, lazier souls among you choose a traditional holiday packages to Nainital, Manali, Kashmir or some forgotten hill station. The more young, heavily pumping hearts look for a mind blowing adventure. Rock climbing, cycling, biking, rafting, paragliding etc. are the obvious choices. I suggest a new adventure ride which will test every paradigm of your skills, be it physical, mental, or emotional. Travel without ticket, or with waiting ticket in Indian Railways!!
Now, this is serious. I assure you of extreme pleasure and pain. Expect the unexpected. Be ready to take on the police. Be ready for the kill. And all this, from my own personal experience.
Board the train. Great, you have already done the first adventurous act, you have broken a law. Travelling without ticket is a well known defiance of law, but most are unaware of the fact that you are also not allowed to travel on a waiting ticket. The rule says that you must get down at the very next hault. But, adventure is about breaking shackles, isn't it :)
Next mission: find a place to rest your ass. You may choose to rely on your legs, but over longer distances, it might be physically painful- oops, another scope for an adventure!! Now, finding a seat will require great observation skills. You need to spot a 2*2 feet empty space in the boggy. Look out for singles, side berths; keep away from ladies, families; upper berth may be empty. Still, (fortunately for you,though) you don't get a seat.
Now, enter your communication skills. You are a student, there are some middle aged uncles around, their son might be of your age, may be in the same school, some connection here and there- aha, this might work. I played this trick many a times. Immediately disclose that you study in IIT. Great, mission accomplished. You got a seat. Oh no!! you were here for an adventure! Situation changed, you still don't get a seat.
But your legs are aching. This is getting painful. Suddenly, you see a suitcase on the floor. Place your ass over there. You might be sitting in the most awkward position, with half of your bottom without any support, but remember you are getting what you are here for!!
Next mission: Escape the claws of TT. Now, this is a great hide and seek game. You will get a feel of escaping from a beast in a jungle. If you don't have a ticket, run away to the toilet. No other place to hide. Toilets can be extreme adventure, but your hanky might help you to resist. If you have a waiting ticket, it's safe in most places. Ask TT with a whisper, "Berth milegi kya?" The usual answer will be "Train full hai, baad mein dekhte hain". Don't get disheartened, wait......
As sun looses its dominance in the sky, a wave of restlessness travels through the compartment. Those with tickets spring up in action to arrange for their sleep and kick out 'outsiders'. But those without berths are the real anxious lot. Where to sleep?
A new avataar takes birth in the train: the TT. Soon, he will be distributing amrita in the form of berths. There is a price to pay though. The real face of Indian administration is revealed. Corruption at your foot step. TT might agree in 50 or 100 bucks, or even more depending upon the size of devotees' queue. You chose to be more adventurous, and ethical. "What a shame? I won't bribe him. This is rediculous." You forget one thing- you are on the wrong side of law yourself.
Finally, you don't get a berth. It's going to be the longest night of your life. Either you will be standing, or being kicked by a person on berth, hopping from one seat to another. Your spirit for adventure is slowly dying out......Utter frustation won't help. Longest wait for the destination.....
Finally, destination arrives. It has been a great adventure: physically demanding, emotionally drenching and mentally painful.
Thanks to Indian Railways for 14 hours of continuous adventure for just 300 odd bucks!!


Ankush Garg said...

Then probably it is a good idea to serve lassi over cold drinks in train. Atleast it would prove "dhoodh ki shakti" to the ticketless and waiting guys. Lalu is really working hard, applying all his faculties I must say.

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