Today I am going to talk to your soul. Yes. I’ll talk to a deeply disturbed soul which must frequently have undergone the horrors of travelling in an Indian train. I’m sure, when you finish reading this piece of writing, you’ll end up satisfied and relieved, realizing that you are not the only one who has suffered. Let’s see if the trains of our thoughts collide.
Where It All Begins: Since you are going to read about Indian trains for the next hundred lines, so why not start with this very important place. The platform. It is to a train what nose is to Himesh Reshammiya. If you have ever been outside the Indian subcontinent, then the sight of an Indian railway platform will suck all your patriotism. And it’s not going to help even more if the platform in question belongs to UP or Bihar, because then not only will you watch a free-for-all show of Slumdog Millionaire, but also you’ll be amazed to see the number of shapes and colours that human faeces could be in.
Getting In: If there is a woman involved in the travelling group, then within minutes of the start of journey, you’ll witness Tupperware utensils all over the compartment. The pooris are out and so are the pickles, and all of a sudden you get a feeling as if you are sitting around some stranger’s dining table. You would really prefer a root canal than being there. And don’t they really test your patience when they offer you to join them? Aren’t these the same people who counsel their children not to eat anything a stranger offers?
The Old Brigade: Your worst nightmare comes true when you are surrounded by old people in your compartment. Following are their typical irritating characteristics:
A) Old people are very good at initiating a conversation even though they are as welcomed by you as gay Jews in Nazi Germany. The chit-chat will invariably lead to discussions about the ills prevailing in the society, and the measures which these old jerks think need to be taken. Sooner or later, politics will be thrown into the mix and you have an entire unique show of News Hour minus Arnab on your hands.
B) If in case you missed out on the menu while the food was being served, these old nutjobs will ensure you realise the menu with their very frequent and noisy belches. Again, even if Astro-Anjaan predicted a good day for you, then let the clock strike twelve and you get an unpleasant menu reminder in the form of farts. It has always amazed me why old people don’t feel ashamed of farting in public. Age can do some really weird things you see.
C) Cellphone: That’s a killer isn’t it? Starting from forgetting to put the phone in silent mode to yelling at high pitches, a cellphone, according to me is one single machinery which is crying to be smashed. By the time your painful journey ends, you would probably have been well-acquainted with all the relatives of the people in your compartment inside out.
D) Did you ever have the privilege of experiencing an oldie complaining about the AC being too cold and therefore getting it switched off ? Oh, for the love of God!! You will wish if your hand was a Thor’s hammer so you could smash that oldie’s empty hollow cranium and feed his bone marrow to a pig.
E) Early to bed and early to rise. I know you have never followed this but you wouldn’t have realized how others following it could become such a pain in the ass for you. All your celebrations of getting a lower berth will be slashed to naught when the oldie decides to get down from his upper/middle berth at five in the morning and demand from you a parking place for his hips. It is then that you feel like putting the oldie in a casket and start bench pressing with it.
F) Then there will be this one oldie who will be sitting at the window with a knife in his hand like a monkey, buying all fruits on offer and gulping them, making you think that the evolution of humans from apes could really have been skipped.
G) If you have surpassed all of the above disasters and feeling at the top of the world then just remember that the oldie has not yet taken his shoes off. There is not enough voltage in the world that can now electroshock you back into coherence.
The Trick: No. We are not talking about anyone turning tricks inside a train, not that it doesn’t happen, but tell me what is the first thing you check after getting a train ticket? An upper berth? Lower berth? No. That comes second. First thing that you check is the berth number because, that in turn will foresee the enjoyment quotient for the rest of your journey. The further away you are from the washroom, the higher are the chances you will come out of that train breathing normal. Now you might wonder, if just sitting close to a washroom can be so catastrophic, then how does a person use one. I’ll help you out. Keep your eyes and ears open and noses closed. Be on a lookout for any chick going to the washroom and you enter as soon as she leaves. With all the perfumed toiletries that they use, you will indeed enjoy using the washroom immediately after them.
The Lowly Struggle: Now as sun starts setting in, pulses of those old plus fat ladies start racing. Of course they have been allotted the upper berth which has started looking like a Mt Everest to them. So now the begging session starts, in which you will be convinced of your youth and fitness, so much so that you’d like to get an admission to college once again. In return goes your lower berth.
The Test: Your train compartment, no matter how filthy and stinky it is, turns into a high testosterone area if you are an unmarried person, and you happen to have a newly-wed couple next to you. Really!! It’s a test. A test so testing that even Sita would have floundered. Your heart pumps and pupils dilate on each and every move, no matter how normal, the couple makes. First time in your life you realize the significance of having a 6/6 vision.
Money vs Masculinity: Whenever the fairer sex complains of inequality between men and women, they don’t realize the trauma we men undergo when a bunch of eunuchs get into the train. We men have tried everything, from faking sleep to hiding inside the washrooms but there is no escaping. Some even went to the extent of faking their own sexual orientation. Now don’t even get me started on what they do to you if you refuse to pay them. Arre Mere Raja…
The Luggage Family: I swear to God that I am going to change my name to Ravindra Jadeja if this one never happened to you. A long train trip is incomplete without that one family which jumps into the train with so much luggage, as if the entire continent has got a job transfer. They come like a storm and start jamming in their luggage not just under their berth but at times even to the adjoining compartments. Not to mention, you’re not going to find your footwear when your urinary bladder is about to break the Hooke’s law of elasticity.
The Chaiwala Tragedy: Believe me, it is nothing short of a tragedy. A tragedy so tragic that even Jalliawala will appear a celebration of peace. Just imagine a situation when you haven’t got sleep all night because of some/all of the factors mentioned above, it’s almost dawn and you are finally getting some sleep and BANG! You hear a loud cry piercing your eardrums ‘Chai‘. Oh, the humanity! Nothing can top that. Or wait a minute! How about if you are not even a Chai-drinker?