[Some pics are missing, a scandal word-press should care to explain :) ]
Its a really long story, and it took me hours of constant bickering. But the software might have cut or made inconsistent, what I am capable of achieving in the first attempt. Its more than 7.8 K words. But so interesting. Happy-Read.
On the 27th of November, about 6 days ago I informed my readership; that I would be away on a long distance trip, that would constitute a short hiatus, there have been before, only a few short and 1 long hiatus of 4 months from this website.
Rest of it, was the pace of the mdashf.
I just arrived back in home, at the same terminal I typed that hiatus-notice on.
(Its a HP all-in-one I was using back in the time when I was writing this article, I am not using it right-now, although its available)
And when I say home, this is how you should construe it. There are more dimensions than the following and certainly my loyal readership knows that, also given to the privilege of being connected to me via other social-networks, all lists of which I have tried to compile at xeeme.com/mdashf if some links “ain’t workin” do buzz me and I will do the needful.
eg you can connect me on Google plus at +Manmohan Dash and tweeter on mdashf. So, if there is any necessary links, articles, pictures are there; you may take a sneak-peek.
Since I arrived back and was a bit relaxed with a nice cup of tea I thought better tell my friends over here; what sort of break it was, what did it involve away from my nestle, here in my home-town of Dhenkanal.
So I will take advantage of the situation and ask you to scroll down, so that you would have seen all these pictures and be enthralled by the option of all the pictures I have taken by my Canon-PS purchased from a Walmart in Virginia in 2008, May 13 – 14 ( just happen to remember) and shared on flicker and Google Plus.
Just if you happen to like nature pictures and -/- or travels etc. I do not have everything perhaps uploaded, but given a chance (read free time) and opportunity (read the drive or folder with the pics) I would do that.
I should also add that half-a-year ago my canon PS died without much notice. Now it whitens out all pictures when taken, so I am thinking of a suitable obituary, but given that I can lay my hands on other’s cameras as well, I do take advantage of that eg in taking pictures as I did on this trip.
(Plus I add as of 8-8-2015, my brother fixed my canon-ps and using it, he didn’t inform me, so I did not seize it from him, I have a DSLR now, so I do not feel like taking his opportunities away, by seizing it from him, by a dint of power greed.)
So scroll down to read my travel events and/or/nor see the travel pictures. I have also tried to give you a caption on the pictures below, the ones that reminds me, what my home is like, so you can also make some sense or break a little inhibition to get in touch personally with me or my online-image.
OK, so here is what the trip involved.
I took a train from my home town to the capital city of Bhubaneswar, which is about an hour or one hour and half by train depending on, how fast these are running. So basically first I took an auto-rickshaw when I began (don’t know how one looks like? make a Google – image search) from my house to the railway station.
This is the first time I took an auto-rickshaw in my home-town although the first one ever I remember of taking was when I was about 5 years old.
That (auto-ride) was in Bhubaneswar, to where I am traveling now by train, the capital city of Odisha-State of India, this year the capital got its international airport, although not because I cried for it.
I paid 120 INR for this 7 – 8 kms ride and reached just in time, 10 minutes before scheduled departure. Also I was feeling like a citizen par-excellent, than a PM or president despicable. So democracy really helps if you are to ride the transports available to the general public and not the owners of our fate.
I had a reserved train ticket for this small hour-long trip. At 8.40 pm. The trouble was the train being an express one, meaning runs faster than other passenger trains available (and no shinkansen, metro-subway or maglev for us behemoths) it perhaps stopped for only half-a-min to min.
My home town is a distt head quarter and if at the same time my democracy was successful, all distt head quarters in the country (which were mostly wrested from the erstwhile royals) would be having super-class bus and railway stations if not airports.
In-fact our erstwhile railway minister Ms Mamata Banerjee had declared that my home-town railways would become an Adarsh Railway Station (meaning it would have specialized facilities from the central Government at New Delhi, Adarsh is ‘Indian’ for Ideal).
My vision is if Bhubaneswar Railway Station becomes as swanky as an international airport ( the latter of which it became this year) and therefore by logic Dhenkanal Railway Station becomes as good as Bhubaneswar Railway Station I would feel like I am in paradise.
In that case or my home town successfully becoming an Adarsh Railway Station (again Adarsh means model for others or ideal) the train would stop for 5 – 15 minutes and one could drink good quality coffee and get some wi-fi internet or something and suitably enter a high quality AC compartment?
Rather than in the 1 min available running for one’s sit, in the compartment. To top it the time was so not enough I had to enter a compartment that was not mine. There are no writings on the compartments as to which one is this? B1 or B5? I sat on a place which was another compartment although the train was really crowded, I was lucky to find one sit, and no-one had a chance to have a conflict with that.
I did therefore reach Bhubaneswar, about by 10 PM. My brother picked me up and we stayed put in his house (I do have a picture). It was only a few hours, till my train begins at Bhubaneswar, to its destination in Guwahati, Asam, one of the valley states of North-Eastern India.
Basically Guwahati is now Asam’s capital and Guwahati is about 28 – 30 hours from Bhubaneswar, by train, which are always express trains, although not necessarily super-fast express. The train was slated to leave at 2 AM.
So I left brother’s place and arrived at the Bhubaneswar Railway Station which is not that bad by any measure, except for why the crowd flow should not be managed better and why there should not be more cleanliness and convenience of passenger commute and ticket and inquiry etc.
Why shall there be a crowd that would be so sleeping at the entrance making it difficult for the incoming or out going passengers to the stations, you would almost trip over them where ever they are sleeping.
Perhaps this is same with many other railway stations. eg you don’t also have to sleep in the Chandigarh Railway Station at the entrance, because Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar were designed to be twins.
(and stop seeking twins out side of your own race)
But perhaps its Ludhiana Railway Station which is in my mind here, I don’t recall my travel 3 years ago w/o having to stress my mind a lot. So lets let it go. Lets just realize that its Government’s Moral Obligation to provide alternatives, to people who sleep or make a day-time or night-time halt, in non-designated areas of the railway station, thereby inconveniencing everybody else and everything else.
We really do have a lot of money to build commonwealth games stadiums, and 2nd international terminals of airports, but not enough welfare fund to take care of human hazards in Railway Stations, especially of the smaller cities of India? Food for thought?
The train was a little bit late before leaving.
That’s tolerable, if you “suffer” by Indian trains, suffer is the word for travel in Hindi, 10 – 15 minutes are okay wrt 2 – 3 hrs which happens quite frequently.
It was a 3-tier AC compartment. Indian Rails have a class – 1 (or first class) class – 2, 2nd tier AC and class – 3 or 3rd tier AC. Whats the difference?
First class is e.g. not available to most trains from or to Bhubaneswar, a very few trains have this luxurious travel, since I have never traveled (interested but not available) I don’t know how luxurious etc.
[As of 8 – 8 – 2015, I traveled a first class between Chennai and Bangalore and loved it, the services are just like Airplane Tours, but Indian Government exploits when it enhances the prices of 3rd class AC and 2nd class to First class and more than airfare, in the name of Premium Tatkal, which is beyond crap and painfully exploitative]
(First Class) Its the most expensive, among long-distance trains, and in many situations, close to airfare for such routes, if the route is not that expensive for air-travel.
(But read how 3rd class and 2nd class which compare much worse in terms of quality and services to 1st class, can be far more expensive than 1st class by a Governmental Financial Exploitation by the name Premium Tatkal.)
Another bane: the most most economically attractive cities such as Bhubaneswar do not yet have cheaper air-fares, for domestic travel between Bhubaneswar and New-Delhi etc.
I have never seen any domestic flight from Bhubaneswar to other parts (and I did travel a lot inside India by Airplanes) going empty, so I have often refused to buy out the arguments from some people that Bhubaneswar air-routes do not make major economic sense hence 1. prices are higher and -/- or 2. flights get cancelled or 3. reduced in flying privilege priorities or 4. flights-frequency or 5. flight-carriers often get lynched.
Its kind of internal lobbying and business strangulation, a free market is also a strangulated market. So my vision is don’t have 3 types of AC trains. For all long distance routes, simply have 2 layers. Economy (which is 1st class) and Business (which has extra privileges as suits business class, wi-fi, wine, entertainment, TV, you add all that you can imagine).
Once that is admissible, for your kind of scheme, for railways travel in India, I think it would also benefit if, instead of a clumsy inside, in these 3 or 2 tier AC trains, make it spacious.
Don’t give me half-a-bed space and ask me to sleep there. And don’t give an elephant the same amount of space to sleep as you would give a bear.
Or ‘you’ prove that you mean fairness and force Mayabati and Jaya Lalitha to travel by 3 tier AC. To those who may not know, a 3 tier AC means in one unit of the compartment, there will be 6 persons and in 2 – tier there will be 4 persons reserved.
But given how reservation system works in India there is really not much difference between a 3 – tier and a 2 – tier. I will tell you what one particular TTE was doing during my trip, when that comes up in the sequence of this story.
If you have more luggage, go for 2 tier. This one is significantly more priced than a 3 tier and a 3 tier is significantly more priced than the sleeper-coaches, sleeper coaches are non-AC, do not provide you blankets and pillows, takes good money, all coaches so far I have traveled, offer you food at extra-large price which is expensive, but gives you a quality of food that you would feel like giving to a crow, believe me, and no this was not the story 5 – 6 years ago perhaps, the food was much much better and priced to be 50 % inexpensive.
Why 2 – tier for more luggage? Because there are only 4 people for the same space that was offered to 6 people in 3 – tier. Basically Indian Government has been selling space, time and speed, in deciding how it will price its various categories of trains. More space, more speed and less time, would entail a higher, much higher price.
But the concept of threshold as a physical variable is not known to our Governments.
How about a better threshold for everyone, so that instead of 40 hour travel, I travel by 25 hrs? How about everyone getting as much space in 3 – tier as one would get in a first class, or even more, if 1st class is also clumsy or rather rammed with stuff? For long distance trips more than 10 hours there should be some uniformity in facilities?
The apathy of Governments for its citizens, is easier to tolerate for 5 hours, than for 35 hours. Would you agree on that?
So I just got up into my compartment and everything was pretty much filled out, as is expected, one would not get a ticket even 2 – 3 weeks or in many cases 1 month in advance. So why there are not more number of trains, is something I have never understood.
YES I am talking about travel between as widely apart, places, such as Karnataka-State on one hand and Asam-State on the other which covers about 80% length of India, that would be a good 2500 kms or more, 1800 miles?
Since I would not get a ticket and the dates were decided, only very soon, I was lucky that I got a confirmed berth in the 3 – tier, by a scheme called Tat-Kal.
Which means right-on-time, meaning a day before the train begins, one can try his luck and cash and get a reservation.
The only one or 2 times when I have traveled, without a reservation, it was painfully inconvenient. None-the-less I traveled with a ticket instead of without one.
Most people in India, in passenger trains, do not like to buy tickets, a privilege they claim for themselves, as befits a law-less ravaged society, but such a thing usually does not happen in express or AC trains because there would be more checking.
But there are other evils, as you would know, if you travel, the TTE, a government employee, for making sure, everything is alright on the trains, can take a bribe from you and let you go without a ticket or without a reservation, simply because you don’t have to pay as much, if you were to be legally executed.
So since this is preferred by many travelers, given that they might have variety of situations, such becomes a trend in our railways, you will know another angle of what a TTE does, I will tell you a story in this article, but wait for a while.
My berth was upper-most (and not side berths).
The whole story I told because I was lucky to have a tat-kal reservation and that did not give me a choice of choosing a window lower berth, often a privilege. But not-always, e.g. during day time everyone can share-for-sitting-along, and day-time is often not well-defined, as are people, during train trips.
Its 3 AM and I needed to jump my wagon to the 3rd level, that’s where my berth is. So ‘you’ guess how many people are sleeping in an unit, in a 3 – tier? You are right, 6 + 2 = 8 people. And 2 – tier? 4 + 2 = 6. That’s a difference, that causes you to spend, lets say, 30% more or less, depending on what you chose.
Sometimes there are situations when (quite not acceptable, but paradigm of Indian Railways) 2 – tiers behave like 3 – tiers, because the TTE (actually the railway system) has accommodated 2 more people.
So, you paid more, but your service is not in par with that.
This is called accommodation mantra which is a Governmental Management Policy.
They can’t cancel someone’s journey, because there is no more seats? But they do that to me, me and you, you all the time, we do not get a reservation all the time. So accommodation mantra is a selective or rather unfair, towards some, because we have to be compassionate towards some others, but why can’t we be much more compassionate and have a better system? Well time-out.
I went to sleep. In the lower berths, there were a few interesting people, that were originally from West-Bengal State but went to Karnataka for a medical treatment. As is, these people would be traveling almost twice as much as I would, so when I get up in the train, they already “suffered” for more than 1 day, and now with me, will travel close to 20 hours again. As I said 1800 miles paradigm.
They were interesting and who are not? But they were chatting loud, way too much. No offense, but tell anyone, many Bengali people often have this habit. In the last 2 months of my train trips I have witnessed, war-of-words to serious battles to constant loud-chattering, all from natives of my beloved neighboring state of Bengal.
There are a lot to talk about them, but I am also a great liker of Bengal, please don’t put an extra c as a typo.
But these loud chatters were not enough to make me not sleep. It was only enough to stop me from coming down and share-a-sitting-along when it was morning. Yes they talk really long hours also.
So, I kept sleeping and missed my ever-favorite rail-sojourn-halt; The Howrah. We passed that by 10:30 AM, and their chatter made me sleep, because they were all lying afloat, all limbs spread and no space for me to come down.
When I woke up I was sad to realize that Howrah has passed, and it was my 13th year or so when I had come back to West Bengal. And my first ever trip to the North East Valley of Asam.
In the afternoon, I sat along these people, and since Bengali as a language is quite quite so same as Odia (my native speak) I did understand many things. It was enjoyable, which is why I said these Bengali folks were interesting.
I do not believe sweetness is something that belongs to languages, I believe it belongs to people, therefore like beauty is from those that see, sweetness is from those that speak, and not the subject that gets spoken, pan pasand pan ki swad, gazab ki mithas, if you speak Marathi after eating some pan like Shami Kapoor may be you will also come across so sweet, ne?
Then when it was time for the interesting folks to leave; one young lady from Bengal perhaps from Siligudi, she had a few months ago, burnt her palm, while boiling some food, and now she was to the hospital in Karnataka, for some other health issue, I could not recall. But I recall she has a job, and she is a widow. Life is hard but she was jolly.
The other lady was constantly eating pan, and I am thinking may be she is umrao jan just for eating the pan, (and that rhymes) she was lying just in that queenly abysmal pose; without leaving much space for the folks to sit-share-along, and speaking through her teeth, with the flavor of pan, sweet none-the-less and kind of Bengal-Royal that she wanted to portray.
They left, giving me a list of stations to follow. New Jalpai Guri, New Cooch Behar etc etc. I also met one place named New Bongai Gao along where I think I was man enough to eat some Puri and Curi.
That was already evening or 8 – 9 PM. Since they were loud-mouthing so much I had already spent a good deal of time in sleeping off, in the upper berth, missing out on Howrah etc. Plus that made my night left not so much attractive for sleeping any more.
They however left a cutie-pie Bengali lad (and no I am not gay by orientation) with his specks and chubby round face speaking volumes of lorry-of-friendliness. I thought he was with them. He was about 20 years old. Keeping quiet most of the time, when others of his companions speaking so long, so much and so loud.
But I should have taken hint, he was not among them. He was sitting and looking just like a Japanese guy and reading some novels, which resembled so much like someone reading a manga. He did have the looks of someone from Gifu lets say. He said he is neither with them, nor he is from Bengal. He is from Shilong, the capital of Meghalaya. And his name I gathered later is Aditya.
Aditya and I got friends really fast. Because now the lower berths were empty and I had descended like it is worthy of warriors. He offered some samurais to me. You know what samurais are? Warriors that are capable of conquering over ‘you’ because you are gullible.
And Indian trains have prohibited (banned) samurais. But we did lit a few. (rather I).
Because I could not sleep at all any more, given I had so much of sleep the whole day. But before Aditya slept off he was the most interested listener of my Sun Theory of Language. He said it makes tremendous sense. And he being not someone from science backgrounds was the 2nd among 3 who said so, in the last 1 year, who have traveled with me on bus or trains, and spent more than an hour, talking about these findings of mine.
There was only one young and one old in these interested audience of 3 (all on different occasions). I wound up by saying the name Aditya (which is literally power or brilliance of power or Sun in Indianic) in my analysis, stands for adi+daya (and many more such as adi+thaya): The first rise etc. And its Sun which comes before anyone else does. (Adi in Indianic means: first, early etc)
He slept, I kept munching on my sugar-free crackers, and taking a fight with samurais a few times. Then came New Bongai Gao by about 3 – 4 am. I got up as quickly as I realized its a station, where the train will stop for a while, and see that its New Bongai Gao. I got some Puri+Curi. Then started a phase in the life of this super-fast train-sojourn, when the train did not have enough clearance to move ahead.
eg it stopped for 45 minutes at Kamaxa, which is already inside city of Guwahati, but 25 – 30 minutes off from destination. Somehow we reached destination, without the train being more than 2 hrs late, a frequent feature of Indian Trains. (long distance)
We were only 1.5 hrs late. It was important to me, as I had an important appointment at 10:30 am, and I am not fully rested in the preceding night.
My friend picked me up, from Guwahati Station and I went to his apartment, where I freshened myself up, for my appointment, had a breakfast and a samurai. He then humored me up with how he intentionally screws up his own appointments. He just in those 2 hours came so close to the wavelengths of my personality in so many dimensions, including philosophy, and I was meeting him only for first time.
We struck a great chord and I was only amused inside of myself, although quite besieged by the nervousness and uncertainties that grips you when you are onto something new. (You don’t? Fine)
I went for appointment and he helped me out, on so many levels. We reached in time despite of mindless crowd of Guwahati. I wanted to get loose on my bladders and his bemusing advise “if you do that on the wall you will sprinkle on your pants“.
That was cute and calculated, but I am often confident upon my calculations and my physical measurements and precision. So, I did it the way I presumed it safe. And it was OK. He then came with another advise. To keep the Hana Montana off from the appointment. [I have a zipped bag sometimes ago I purchased which has a Hana Montana picture, is it really so bad; to judge people that way.]
In any case it was hours and he was back to pick me up.
I got back and we had a hearty meal in one modest chalies (thatched, kind of semi thatched or even low-end restaurants)
But the food was superb.
He had lived in this place, for close to a decade, who would know better. The thing about Asam (and Bengal) is, their language is amazingly similar to Odia. As is their culture. I have safely presumed India is a few countries.
EAST: Asam + Bengal + Odisha, is one.
Then there is south-India: Andhra + Tamil-Nadu + Kerala + Karnataka.
In North there is Punjab + Delhi + Hariyana + Himachal, which are kind of similar.
Then there is WEST: Maharashtra + Gujurat + Rajasthan (although Rajasthan would also be one of its kind, so are all states)
Then there is CENTRAL: Madhya-Pradesh + fringes of other regions, that surround it.
Basically I have been to all these regions (except parts of the regions) and its not a to be analyzed for differences but to give a basic idea. From ancient times, India had enough interactions, among its regions, to be influencing each other.
We got back home by afternoon and my body was craving for rest. The plan was to go for some sight-seeing, but the body was not so helping. So we postponed. The idea was to examine why Budweiser is considered a popular beer in US. With a few samurai and uncle-sam struggles, I was up for a dinner.
We had the food and the idea was to line up my armory, for a killing of the fluish leanings I had lately. Nobody kills the flu like Rum does, it was agreed upon, and I went for battle field. There was a lot of talk of philosophy and life history of my newly made friend.
He wanted to now go to bed, perhaps it was 1 AM in TIME’S own diary. I on the other hand, had the privilege of a few more round, with uncle sam, and samurai nishihito. I was, from my state of blabbering, went to become the loneliest philosopher in my bed. I did not realize when I slept, but if you were to catch me on record, for what I was talking, it was philosophy such as “we consider alcohol our best friend, why else we would talk so much when he is around” and so on.
That was perhaps 3 or 4 am, and given that my legs were aching like hell, all along, I slept until tomorrow afternoon. I had a train upcoming, to travel back home. But this time tat-kal would not give me a 3 – tier AC, 1 day is, always, not enough for your choices (and sometimes not even 10 years, why find excuses !)
The train was reserved last night and is slated to begin sojourn at 6:45 PM. Its a sleeper coach. Did I not tell you they don’t provide blankets or pillows, food is uniform across all classes (the ones I have traveled) and good enough for your crows.
On top of that sleeper-coach can irritate ‘you’ like anything and cleanliness has been taken on a ride, to hell. (well relatively not).
The after-noon is getting over and Guwahati is a place where Sun closes its shop by 4:30 pm because shop opens early at 3:30 am or so. Boy ! Mr Rum stopped me from seeing that 3:30 am opening, right here in India, what does really make things so widely varying?
So, I am afraid I can not see the Kamaxa Temple of Guwahati in broad day light, a prerequisite to take better pictures of it. And I got 2 hours, the only thing we could think of going for, is the temple which is within 10 kms and my train is slated to leave by 6.45 pm, so I am right on the consistency, its 4:45 pm, perhaps, when we started.
The bike was then moving like a torpedo.
Some people become amazing xperts in their chosen path and my new friend was one.
We reached after climbing the valley (by the motor bike) the famous Kamaxa (TransLittered as Kamakhya) Temple.
We spent some 30 – minutes to 45 – minutes there.
Time does not keep its own diary, we have to, if we care and science and tech gives us ample opportunities and tools.
But again when sun closes its shop, science and tech has still made it possible to lit the abode of God and camera was having some night time privilege. So I did have the privilege of keeping some good memories. Here are a few. Then we will follow my home-bound trip, which was kind of compensated, by some interesting incidents.
I think this is all the pictures that I would like to show you.
As soon as we were satisfied (the friend already lived here, it was my satisfaction) we took our torpedo, as we got about an hour, from the slated home-bound sojourn. We came to the apartment, I already packed before leaving (I am not really that care-a-damn) so I immediately picked the 3 luggage, sat on the torpedo (a tribute to expert bike riders, who can carry a lot of luggage, ride safely, amidst mind numbing crowds of Indian cities) and we reached the station like lightening (he knew all short cuts, so when the road sign said 2.5 kms, he was like, they must be mistaken about Guwahati).
There was good enough 10 minutes now, before the scheduled departure of 6:45 pm. Remember, when I began my trip, there was a good enough 10 minutes for the train at 8:45 pm. I am in good hands of time often, … ??
He helped me settle and we bid farewell to each other. This time its a sleeper and he already advised me, to switch off my mobile, because there ain’t no power refill, (not even sometimes on 3 – tier, as you will discover to your dismay. Plus at apartment of his, the extra 3 minutes he took, he advised me to charge my mobile, mobile chargers work efficiently, while charging up (pro-grade) although decay is slower during discharge (retrograde).
It works wonder to be able to even charge your mobile battery for 3 minutes if battery is new.
I promised myself, no battles with samurais, during this trip. This time the lower berth were occupied for full-length of trip. The folks downstairs were not very educated. No I don’t hate that, what I hate is refusing to change that, these were nice people.
Interestingly enough these folks were going to Kerala, their son-in-law is from south India. The S-I-L has purchased their ticket but in 3 legs of the sojourn.
1. Guwahati to Bhubaneswar (where I am headed by Guwahati-Puri-Express)
2. Then Bhubaneswar to Vijayawada (which is again 12 – 13 hours trip, I think)
3. Then Vijayawada to Erode. I could figure out Ed is for Erode, although I have never been to Kerala, and my fellow passengers checked that to be correct, by accessing info on their really outdated mobiles with internet. People could be highly resourceful.
That last leg would be 15 – 20 hrs? Someone help us here, but its really long. They were 3, the speck-wearing feeble 50 – something man, whose eyes are evidently not in focus, with each other. His graceful wife; who was nonetheless visibly feeble. The 15 – 17 something sun for whom I made a SOGJ (Sun-of-a-gun-joke) but not sharing.
So we fellow passengers were helping these folks, for hours, trying to figure out how to help them with all that they need to know to safely sail through to Erode.
Fellow Passengers here involve: Me + 2 other fellas, who happened to be young engineering grads, who went to Guwahati to attend interview, for a construction company. They were civil engineers thus, from Brahmapur of Odisha State are speaking therefore my mother-speak: Odia.
My mobile was not catching internet signal, all the time, but I scarcely needed it, switching off the mobile to save charge for future use. Their’s on the other hand were primitive mobiles and did not eat, if at all frugally, the available charge, but could access internet on their mini-screens and useful to retrieve train and station info etc. e.g. they would try to find which station has what slated-to-be-right time, so we could see how late we are and whats coming next etc.
So I could plan on my meal for the day, than eat some crow-stuff, courtesy Government of India.
But that’s not how our nights began, when I got onto the train. I embarked at 6:45 pm right? Then since there was hardly any space, to sit, in the lower berths, I climbed to my upper berth location. Same as what I had occupied when coming. I slept. I was already having a lotta good stuff to eat, so I did not want to take too much meal, or rather anything.
Two times, it happened, that I smelled bidi or BD; the Indian poor man’s cigarette, a very foul smelling and dangerous one, as is all forms of smoking, someone was smoking them in the compartment, as opposed to “even prohibited in the wash-rooms”.
But what really woke me up was a loud argument between two people. They were fighting seriously, so far with words, but an exchange of blows, could occur anytime. Who ever says Bengali is a sweet language must also hear this argument out. They were fighting, because the man, about 50+ years old, in the attires of a sadhu-baba (although not enough beard) had a reservation against a lower berth.
The other party had a man of about 45 years of age, a woman, an old man, as much as I could gather. The woman was screaming on baba saying the baba screamed on her, when they asked him, for occupying baba’s seat, as they need that seat. But baba had his reservation and its his say, which was not respected by the other party.
Many of us spend the night near the stinking wash-rooms, if we were to not have reservation. The old fella could be adjusted somewhere, but not by threatening the other party with morality etc. The screams were so loud, I woke up. 2:30 AM. The guy sleeping by my side, on the other side of compartment hence only separated by a porous wall, also joined chores, although he was not in either group.
His loud voice might have contributed to my waking up. But anyway when I woke up he was advising loudly to the baba to pay heed and give space, as the man who needs a lower berth, is an old man. The man who was 45 years old about, was kind of well built, from military or not I am not sure, started becoming very mad at the baba for not yielding.
He was using perhaps so many foul language against the baba, that baba was also furious and not willing to yield, its his seat anyway. So, this man wanted to furiously go towards baba and just hit him, he did not, but showed all signs and kept coming back, and said in his Bengali “tumi ek ta baba .. chhi chhi … ” You are a saintly person believing in God and you can’t leave your seat, shame on you etc etc. Finally somehow they all were separated and went into their respective positions.
I could sleep again.
When we boarded at Guwahati there were another family that boarded. Two very young ladies, one middle-aged man and perhaps couple other ladies. But I think couple other ladies, one very old and one middle-aged woman, speaking Bengali, but since I could not distinguish enough between Bengali and Ahamiya as of now, I don’t yet know they are same family or not.
The young ladies, one of them was married, evidently because there was a baby she was taking care of. The other young lady was quite perhaps in some college. The married lady had very long hair and was smiling a lot, if you want more detail.
When I woke up due to the brawl, I sat for a while. The next morning, the old fellas and the feeble wife and the 17 some kid they needed help. Why? They had a ticket, a valid one. 3 valid tickets actually for 3 legs of journey. But they did not have their original photo-ID. The man had photocopied these for some reason.
The TTE was strict and wanted them to show original ID or pay for the whole ticket again. Which was kind of not acceptable. Anyway the TTE then left elsewhere. In the mean time there was a guy, who advised the old fella, with specks, to pay some 200 Rs to the TTE and rest the matter, than to pay more than 3000 again.
When the TTE came the old fella said I would like to talk with you, the TTE said you would like to talk with me, ok come.
The old man then returned, after a while and happy that matter has been rested for meager 200 Rs. (INR). That was then a precedence for him, to back-up in case such a situation arise. That was the point when we, the two young engineers and me, all from Odisha, wanted to help him out, with where and how he has to go etc.
It was after-noon.
By this time I have finished 5 – 6 cups of tea, although I needed sugar-free tea and that’s something nobody has heard of in Public Eating places in India except a few, and I am sitting in the lower berths.
So I am talking to these engineers about where they are from, where they had their graduation and why they came to Guwahati etc. The old fella offered us all, apples, but we did not think it was appropriate for us to take these, there are so many stories of strangers offering you food etc, but I don’t know what was the reason I refused. …
In the mean time Durgapur arrived (Galileo says we arrived, Durgapur was already there) and I got off and had some fish-curi and other stuff to eat.
It was not really great but cheaper and better than whats offered from train-catering.
One thing smacked my conscience.
A few kms before Durgapur, which is a major industrial place in West Bengal, I saw a place. I am not recalling the name quite well, a name I wanted to remember, so I can dig up better, along with the name of the TTE so that he can be investigated for why he was taking bribe, with bribe from 5 people everyday for a month he is going to make twice or 3ce his own salary, by illegally swindling the passengers.
This place was not quite strange place, given it was really close to a city, that can be seen soon after. But there are sewerage by the sides of the railway track, really dirty water, where everyone, young kids, young ladies, old ladies, adult men, they were taking baths and washing their clothes, in that sewerage water.
I could not decide whether its their lack of education or lack of public water supply or even a basic well or tube well is not possible in this community. It was shocking to see 20 people taking shower in filth, and washing their clothes, in the vicinity of an industry that would send all kind of pollutants to the water. The colossal amount of coal powder that was thrown out of the industries, were lying for miles. The sewerage as household utility saddened me.
I was not fond of watching the fight between people or poverty in Bengal, less anywhere in India. I was watching the beautiful scenery, the serene beauty of Bengal, it takes close to 15 hours of trip through the state, for my journey. I was so enjoying the folk-music by two Bengali train-singers, that I immediately reached to my wallet for their small due. I even took their picture. They were singing really captivatingly, for my taste.
But I had just stared constantly into the eyes of a he-cum-she, who was trying to extract money from me, by making irritating and offensive voices and gestures at ‘me’. Many of these he-cum-she were showing up, as were beggars, did I not tell you the sleeper class is going to be different, no watch on these intruders, if you are not paying more.
Another dimension of selling space-time-speed to passengers. Sell convenience and cleanliness eg.
I so wanted to strike paranoia into his-cum-her psyche that ‘she’ actually left me. I was elated with pride that I can keep them at distance. Later such he-cum-she was asked to leave simply by hand-gesture, here in Odisha, and he-cum-she left, they usually don’t do that, I have had many interesting events from past journeys of last 10 years, what these folks do.
These he-cum-shes are spread all over India and intrude into trains. We tolerate their excesses in the name of culture. If you are interested they are sometimes called as futanari in Japanese, but I like the word he-cum-she ;).
So all the beggars who gave us print-outs declaring their poverty and why they therefore expect us to pay them anything, what a manifesto, where do they get money to print that out? The man comes and distributes these pamphlets to everyone in the compartment and then returns to beg money, what a plan.
I kept the leaflet on the top berth where I was sleeping, when the beggar came asking for money, I pointed my finger for him to take it from there, he got pissed off and said “leave it” and left, many people did not give him any money asking him, to get proof for his claims. So, the folk musicians were so much a refreshing change to all that, I took their picture and gave them a small monetary reward.
After the meal I went to sleep. After a couple or 3 hours my sleep was again broken in a mad rush of argument between the same people. This time the guy who was advocating for the family, with an old man to take care of, was himself arguing with the baba. And it was really as bad as last night. I woke up and already one man was rebutting them for disturbing others.
I jumped down to the floor, from my upper berth, by climbing halfway down and joined him in admonishing these pair. “Look you have made our lives so inconvenient, we can’t sleep because you continue to fight each other, keep that off”.
The man who was fighting with the baba could not digest the fact that we were already asking them to shut up. So, he was like “why you are asking me only, he has come, now you have come”.
I said “I am admonishing both, not just you, and you got it right, he came, I came, now another will come, stop disturbing everyone here”. Then they settled down.
My train was slated to arrive my destination by 1 AM. So, after a while perhaps an hour or two, before destination, we 3 Odia folks sat together and began talking very softly. They told me you know what these two ladies are talking among each other? They are saying you jumped to scold those fighting guys as an excuse to impress them.
I was thinking long hair okay, but really? I was also enjoying how much these two young ladies, one married and one not staring at me. I know I am attractive. And I know fantasy is not bad. I have to take up such risks, not for my convenience, but for simply looking for an opportunity to ask them for their phone numbers. I rreally wanted to go. Mad. I said now look at that. They were like its only their thinking. They want to see others that way.
It was really kind of whacky, since they were so staring at me. Of-course only when I happened to notice that. And the two engineers said, yea how do they know whats in our mind, must be they stare if they were to know we stare. I kind of laughed at it, although fantasy is a good thing.
Quickly our destination came.
Although the train stopped again for some good impatient time, before asking us to disembark. And I took a cup of tea at Cuttack Railway Station that I will repent for a long time. I drank tons of tea the preceding hours, but that one set the salmonella in my abdomen, as soon as I got it, there was so much oscillation out there.
I had to go. Mad. And dysentery.
That was Odisha. But if you see the pictures I have uploaded here, you will see no signs to all these. Will ya?
My brother again picked me up, at Bhubaneswar, it was about 2:30 am. I slept after some good food, I had skipped dinner in the train as that was crow-food. I woke up quite early, after only 4 – 5 hrs sleep. Then brother got me reserved again, for an hour long train trip to home. Remember the Kingfisher?
The train was at 1.40 PM. And was 10 –15 minutes late, by the time I reached. But there was some good good serene beauty of nature, especially close when I arrived close to Dhenkanal. Wild hills and forest panorama.
I reached home, took a tea, made some phone calls and skipped meal and wrote this article for you all. Do tell what you think.
[8.8.2015; I think this 7.8 K worded article took me several hours of back breaking pain. I need some uncle sam in such time.]