TEM (Travel Event of the Month) February – The Great Indian Train Journey

 

TEM Feb - The Great Indian Train Journey

TEM Feb - The Great Indian Train Journey

Train journeys in India give you terrific insights – into the look and feel of the places your train travels by and the people in those places.  After a train journey, especially a longer one, you get a feel of the way people look, speak, behave and live in several parts of the country.

As an ode to this experience, I’m hosting ‘The Great Indian Train Journey‘ event at my blog this February. So, write your train experiences in India at your blog and let me know. Here’re some post ideas – your travel to home during summer holidays at boarding school/college, your first local train experience, 5 things you love/hate about Indian Railways, why you love travelling in sleeper class more than AC-2/3, or vice versa, vendors at railway stations, Indian Railways as a cultural change agent etc. For some more ideas, you can read my posts on Indian Railways. On 20th February, I’ll post a round up of this event with a link to your post.

Rules of the event:

  1. Event period 26th Jan to 15th Feb 2009
  2. Write about your experience with Indian Railways in your blog, post it during the event period with the event logo and a link back to this page.
  3. If you’ve already written about the same, please re-post it during the event period.
  4. Email your entry to aamikalyan@gmail.com, with “TEM Feb – The Great Indian Train Journey” in the subject line with following details: Your Name, Blog Name, Blog URL, post title, post URL, photo (photo is optional) 
  5. Last date for the entry is February 15th, 2009.
  6. You can send multiple entries.
  7. If you don’t have a blog but wish to participate in this event, send your entry with your name, picture (optional) and post title to aamikalyan@gmail.com on or before the last date. I will post your entry as a ‘guest post‘ with your picture (if you send it, that is) in my blog and include it in the round-up.

Acknowledgements

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A tryst with security at Bandel Railway Station, West Bengal

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In the aftermath of Mumbai attacks, the security apparatus everywhere seems to have been beefed up. I witnessed that on my trip back home – at Bangalore airport, at Calcutta airport, and at the railway stations at Howrah, Dhanbad and yes Bandel.

From the door of a moving Train

From the door of a moving Train

I de-boarded a Howrah-Bandel local train with my sister and her two kids. While getting out of the station, I noticed a metal detector outside. It seemed defunct and people were happily giving it a miss. To top it all, I couldn’t spot any security person in the vicinity. Appalled at this utter apathy to reality, even after 11 major blasts in 2008, I thought of doing something. I took out my camera and took a stance that gave an excellent shot of the scheme of things. ‘This is unacceptable. I would send this pic to the leading Bengali, Hindi and English dailies‘.

However, before I could click something else happened.

Ke aapni? Chhobi tulchhen kaino? Paarmishaan niyechhen‘ – ‘Who are you? Why are you clicking pictures? Have you taken permission?’ Asked a seemingly infuriated bystander. The middle age pot-bellied of medium height and with curly hairs meant business.

Dada aami to emnei chhobi tulchhi. Ghurte beriyechhi kina. Taai‘. ‘Oh, I’m travelling and just taking pictures’.

E bhabe saurkaari saumpottir chhobi tulle teente dhara lege jaabe‘ – ‘Taking pictures of a government property without permission means violating 3 sections’. Now, this was something I had no clue about. No-argument strategy sounded apt under the circumstances. I tried to calm him down by stating usual stuff – I’m a responsible citizen; I’m from Bangalore; I’m not a localite; I didn’t know that this is violation. Blah Blah Blah. But it backfired. The guy became impatient and suddenly caught me by my arm.

Train at a Railway Station

Train at a Railway Station

Cholun Baudo Babur kachhe. Ja baular onake bolun‘. ‘Lets go to my Bada Babu. Whatever you’ve to say, say to him’. Situation was getting out of hand. A couple of steps away was standing Baba Babu, with 2 TTEs and a lady in Khaki (policewoman probably). The guy was in civil dress, but other had a I-respect-you stance towards him. Bada Babu glanced with his enquiring eyes at me. The pot-bellied guy explained the situation Bada Babu and beemed with pride.

‘Kono ID achhe’? ‘Got any ID’? Bada Babu extended his hand towards me. I handed over my PAN Card.

Aami amar didi are bhagna bhagni saathe tallygonj theke ekhane maasir baadi esechhi‘. ‘I’ve come here from Tollygunge with my sister and her two kids’. I took out my mobile to call her. And lo, my angel was already in sight.

Aare ki korchhen dada. E amar bhai. Traivel Raaitaar. Nijer lekhar jonnoi chhobi tul chhilo. Jete din na‘. ‘What’re you doing sir? This is mu brother. Travel writer. Was taking some shots for his article. Please let him go’. Now a lady with her two kids pleading for her brother to the Bada Babu ended the enquiry. Bada Babu gave me a clean-shit, returned my PAN card and asked me to delete the picture from the camera. There wasn’t any, still I deleted the last picture I clicked – which was of a rickshaw puller in Tollygunge.

Morals of the story:

  • Don’t click pictures of government establishments (airport, railway station, vidhan sabha) without prior permission. If you have to, at least ensure no one’s watching. Not everyone is lucky like Suyog, or Cheetos.
  • Behind every ‘clean’ man, there’s a lady as well.
  • Keep your ID proof with you whenever you’re out of your home. It’ll come handy.

Could you fathom any other MORAL of the story? I would be glad to know.

Indian Railways goof up

Indian Railways came up with a killer app a couple of years back – online train status and online booking. All one needed to get the booking done was internet connection (provided server is up, seats are available and your account has balance). Over the years, queues at the railway booking counters have decreased. The UI, and the utility, has improved considerably over the years.

Sometime back, while I was enquiring for some train, the result page showed an airlines ad. I couldn’t help but laugh at this. Such a goof-up is good enough to tarnish the image of an otherwise useful site. Here’s the snapshot:

Indian Railways goof-up

Indian Railways goof-up