Common sense …or..Lack of It…!
I was returning to Tirupati after attending an usual “emergency” meeting at Hyderabad.. emergency not about the topic of discussion, but we were called at a very short notice. ..! I have reached Kachiguda station after passing through several traffic jams and fortunately could catch Venkatadri express. The compartment was full by the time I got in to my coach. Mine is upper berth. The ‘co-passengers’ are chatting vigorously. One gentleman and three ladies with two kids. By listening ‘accidentally’ to their conversation (which is loud enough to be heard even from the next compartment..!), I became aware that they didn’t have a confirmed ticket at all, but occupied the berths of the passengers who are supposed to board at a different station. They are planning to ‘convince’ the TC…. two kids and three ladies with a huge luggage is enough reason for anybody to show sympathy. The TC came. He promised that he will try to help them if the ‘original’ passengers doesn’t board in the next station.
After TC left, they opened their food boxes and started feeding children around (8 or 9 yrs). They enjoyed playing with food than consuming it. In few minutes, I realized that I will be safe only if I can go on to the upper berth as fast as I can. I got to the upper berth and started reading some book. After few moments, I felt the horrible ‘aroma’ of some non-vegetarian food. They are talking loudly and enjoying the food, while, on the other side the spirits of the dead birds are dancing before my eyes. I took ‘vicks’ from my bag and stuffed enough material to block both my nostrils. It helped to some extent. Their enjoyment continued, while I slowly drifted to sleep.
At around 11.00PM, the ‘original’ passengers boarded the train. They also got convinced with the problem explained by the existing passengers. They decided to share the berths and the left-over bones. Now, the disturbance got doubled. It was about 12.30 am. They are still talking loudly. I looked down at them. The gentleman asked me, “Why are you looking like that. Shall I switch off the light”. I told them, ‘just please talk softly if you don’t get sleep’. He seemed to understand my ‘problem’. They were quiet for some time. They arranged themselves in various positions on the available berths and in the free space between them. I thought that the problem is over and my sleep returned. It didn’t last long anyway.
At about 2.30AM, again I woke up when a loud noise disturbed me. The people below are discussing their childhood experiences with the train journeys and laughing loudly. One girl is excitedly telling how she escaped from TC and traveled the whole distance without a ticket. Another man is telling that he had found some unclaimed bag underneath his berth, and called the railway police to check whether it contained any bomb. He added that, they just kicked the bag out of the train into the darkness. The twist is, after sometime, the passenger from the upper berth got down and frantically searched for his luggage. After listening to it, I became alert. I visually checked for the presence of my bag. It is safe.
The time is about 5.00 am. The coffee vendors and Newspaper vendors entered the scene. The gentleman in the lower berth purchased a news paper, which is filled with positive praising stories about a corrupt politician and his corporate son..! I wondered, why they are wasting their time and money in one go, by buying and reading such nonsense. May be, they are thinking about me in the reverse or may even be sympathetic to me for missing such ‘good’ stuff.
With the first light of the day, all the other people like beggars and physically handicapped people entered the couch, singing some devotional songs with the peak of their voice and some are ‘cleaning’ the compartment, pushing the dust and waste papers from one side to the other.
I descended from the upper berth, got fresh up and had a healthy coffee, free from cholesterol and milk..!
Eventually the train approached Tirupati. The pleasant view of the hills removed all the tiredness due to lack of sleep and I became refreshed with the wonderful morning view of the distant hills. I used my mobile to take some pics and I can share few of the good ones here.
(click on the photos for a larger view)