Thursday, February 03, 2005
Karnataka Express: A journey called Chhuk Chhuk!
As I wrote earlier, I had planned a trip to Bangalore from Delhi in the last week of January. The Karnataka Express starts from Delhi at 9:15 P.M and reaches at 1:30 P.M after some 40 hours. During the journey, you make some acquaintances that you don’t want to forget and some that you want to forget but just cant get out of your mind! I was on berth no. 23 which incidently is a side lower berth (I find it the most comfortable berth in AC 3) and I managed to book it for myself after much haggling. Anyways, usually it happens that I have to forego my berth for some women or the other – even she is young and athletic – for the “love of humanity” or “being considerate” (this being another topic of interest about which I am gonna write sometime later) so that the female doesn’t have to climb 4 feet. But this time, I was traveling after a long time and had made up my mind not to give in so easily for a “not so worthy cause”. Indeed, if its someone really old and incapable enough to climb 4 feet, I would oblige. And I decided that I would be the sole judge for the worthiness of the cause. Well, as I boarded the bogie with my sister who had come to drop me, I saw 2 couples and one mom – son combo ( the son was in early twenties and it was a relief for me that there was someone else too who could be asked for a sacrifice). As it turned out everyone was quite comfy with their arrangements and I managed to ward off some lone one or two attempts to acquire my seat. Well, after settling down in the train its time to look out for ways to pass time. Since I have some experience, I carry some books or magazines (I stopped carrying walkman when I passed out of teens). The other past time which is quite popular in long journey trains in India is eating. Its simply capacity of people to eat… and eat while at the same time saying nice things about the “seat of relief”. Its not a lesser known fact that train toilets are horrible on trains here but a lesser known fact is that the usability of the bathroom declines exponentially as the journey progresses. But the fervor to eat does not get dampened .. the diverse set of people, companions for some 40 hours, gladly open up their bags and bring out the best that their state or city has to offer.. sweets, namkeens or should I say, anything that is considered edible. And no, u cant just take one serving and be done with it, the first serving has to be followed by a second serving – and its not as if you don’t have the liberty to choose the number of servings – the third one is your choice. The next kind of pastime is standing near the door (but away from the toilet door) for some fresh unpolluted air and beautiful scenery. And that’s also the place u meet up with people from other bogies. I am gonna continue this.. later.. Karnataka Express: A journey called Chhuk Chhuk –2 As I was talking about the second most popular pass time is standing near the bogie door.. for some fresh unpolluted air and beautiful countryside scenery. Air is unbelievably fresh and clean and trees or undending “khet” (farms) are a feast for the eyes that normally don’t see a square park or a garden in the name of greenery. I met some quite interesting people this time.. A paraglider – he was carrying all his paraphernalia with him – who was going as an instructor. Some people from Samsung coming back after a conference in Jaipur. A businessman from Delhi who had a train to catch at midnight the same day for Hyderabad and was really panicky when Karnataka Express got delayed by around 1.5 hour. A guy from Delhi and a girl from Bangalore.. so basically, it was a nice mix of people. Everyone had an absolutely different accent – the Samsung guys had a southie accent, the bangalore girl had a bihari + southie accent, the businessman from Delhi had a Azadpur Mandi Delhi accent and the delhi guy had a different Punjabi accent. I found my accent to be very different to theirs too.. The paraglider guy didn’t say anything much.. It was good talking to them; we talked about China’s Manufacturing, Choclate Biscuits, Tsunami, politics, food ofcourse, bangalore and Delhi. And there was a 10 month old baby in the bogie and provided wholesome entertainment to anyone who was getting bored. On the whole I would say a train journey from North India to South India is a experience in itself. It’s a tale of diversity.. India’s diversity. I enjoy it..