Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Train Journeys

I had never seen a train up close till I was twenty. Yes, I know it is shocking coming from someone who is born and brought up in Bangalore city. But it is true. I never had to take a train to go anywhere. We didn't have train to go to our "native" so we took bus. The rickety, back breaking journeys in the KSRTC buses are an experience worth an entire blog. Coming back to trains. I did not see it till I was twenty. Even then I didn't travel, I just got to see it up close and explore the wonder. I went to Bangalore City railway station to see off this friend of mine, Pradeep, who was going back home after finishing his college. I was there to see the train more than sending him off, I told as much to Pradeep. He was only amused and not at all hurt. He then entrusted Ekram, this other friend to make sure that I took a good look at the train. So it was under the expert guidance of Ekram that my first tour of Indian railways began. I was taken aback by the sheer size of the train - it was a Delhi bound train with lots and lots of compartments. Ekram was most thrilled to show it all off, as if he owned it or actually as if it was his invention. The pantry car and vestibule were highlighted and very rightly so. You can go from one end of the train to the other end without getting off - Truly marvelous. Hot and tasty food served while on the move certainly a fantastic luxury. Ekram, who knew very well about my motion sickness also grandly announced that it will never happen on a train.

I was hooked, I started thinking about people whom I could visit by train. At that moment there were none. When I told him of this problem, ever enterprising Ekram said "lets all go to Goa on a train. A picnic is due anyway and for you we will take a train." So the deal was made. It is another matter that the picnic never materialised.

That was a long time ago. But that story comes back to my mind every single time I take the train, to this day. I have traveled so much by train that I ought be given a special ID by the Indian Railways that'll fetch me a discount on ticketing. And on the account of my traveling, Vivek also had to do quiet a bit of it. So he too claims he deserves this ID.

You don't believe me? Let me give you some figures. I was in Chennai for two and half years. I visited Bangalore often. Which also meant that Vivek too traveled a lot to Chennai. (We believe in equality in our relationship you see). At the end of those two and a half years we did a rough calculation of how much we might have spent on traveling. (just to torment ourselves nothing else.)

We figured on an average of two trips a month for 2.5 years it would amount to about Rs. 45000/- This does not include the Shatabdi and AC travel we indulged in once in a while.

Is Mr. Laloo listening?

PS: I just realised that if I had saved at that rate I could've owned a four-wheeler and the money for the fuel by now.


S. said...

though the chances of the railway minister reading this blog are highly remote, i do hope he reads it.

Pavithra Sankaran said...

Me too! If I calculate time and money I've spent on train journeys in the past 4 years, it might become a case of suicide - I'll shock myself to death. However, what bugs me even more is that The Rainway Minsitry (see irctc.co.in) have introduced a frequent traveller scheme, but its only for I & II AC! I would think that people who travel frequently would take the sleeper, or at most III AC to save money! Ask all those Madrasi software types who work in Bangalore! We really should write to dear ol' Lalu and tell him a few things, no?