My Co-passengers

17.08.2017

Coach B9. Seats 25 28 – not so elderly couple – first said 25 but took 28. On pointing to actual seat, arrogance erupted: 25 & 28 are both ours!

Seat 26 29 – four luggages. Kept on corridor for sometime. Not so Elderly man: where we would keep our luggage? You are taking all! Arrogance in the same level. The young ones were humble enough and adjusted their luggage quickly to the satisfaction of the ‘arrogant’ not so old man.

It seemed to me that the not so elderly gentleman does not give an inch anywhere. Not accommodating at all. May be bitter experiences in life.

In my numerous train travels I have encountered such behaviour often. Passengers would fight over luggage space, choice of berths (everyone wants the lower berth)!

The ‘arrogant’ man returned after probably surveying the coach and facilities. He sat in a peculiar posture beside me, spreading his knees wide enough to compel me to adjust my posture. I have observed rampant use of this very irritating way of seating among many men. Somehow this has become habit for many without realising the negative impression it creates.

The lady of the not so elderly couple was sorry that waitlisted passengers could not board as the train allows only confirmed passengers to board. She was happy that one seat was allotted to one person only🙂!! She was traveling in Rajdhani express for the first time. It was confirmed when she asked her husband if the train was fully airconditioned.

The allotment of berths are difficult for me to decipher. The couple got 25 & 28 both lower berths. The duo in front of me got 26 & 29 both middle berths. It is said that senior citizens and female above 45 years of age are allotted lower berths. But this is not always the case. My 84 year old mother and my 63 year old brother were not allotted lower berths in the May trip. The logic is still not clear to me after so many years of computerised online reservation system. I am pretty sanguine of manual intervention.

In my adjacent coupe, the expected debate on Modi and Kejriwal started. A lady was happy that her electricity bill is halved and there is no water bill under Kejriwal regime. However she is at pain at Kejriwal’s meaningless outbursts against Modi. The debate took a break on arrival of refreshments.

An intercity train passed ahead when our train stopped briefly creating sounds of tabla to our stationary soundproof train.

The two young men sitting opposite to my seat were conversing in the eastern dialect of UP heard in and around Varanasi. I heard the dialect after so many years. Years ago when my aunt stayed at Varanasi I used visit her almost every year. The locals spoke in that dialect and my cousins were quite proficient in the dialect including the tone. The boatmen at the ghats of Ganga spoke in that dialect only, even to foreigners. Very sweet and easy to understand.

True to their natural instinct, one of the young men went out in the corridor and returned with ready ‘khaini’ (a mixture of dry tobacco leaves and edible lime powder) in his palm duly concealed and handed over to his friend. The familiar smell reached my nostrils and I understood the whole sequence.

The not so elderly man was fond of old Hindi film songs. He started playing hit songs from a recording of Binaca Geetmala program in his mobile phone. In the adjacent coupe, the political discussions did not resume. Instead, the ‘Sundarkand paath’ started playing from…. what….mobile phone.

Meanwhile the not so old lady reminded her husband of medicine time.

There was distraction to the ladies listening to ‘Sundarkand Paath’ because our not so old gentleman was listening to the old Hindi Film songs quite loudly. So the ladies started chanting the lines from ‘Sundarkand’. The music stopped all conversations. What a way to stop all kind of conversations (including the ever increasing political debates)!

A little later the not so old lady started viewing some recorded serial. They had carried a Jio network device. They were oblivious to the noise and was not using earphones. Copassengers had to bear with the disturbance. I remembered an old sign in rail coaches prohibiting playing radios if it disturbed other passengers.  No such signs are visible these days. The not so old couple are from the days of that notice but obviously they never noticed neither cared.

Tea and refreshments served. Our not so old elderly couple had all but continued complaining about over-weight and other related ailments.

After dinner the gentleman revealed his age while boasting something about his travels. He was 62. I was right. They were not so elderly. These days person of all ages dye their hair. So it’s difficult to ascertain age these days.

Science played its role while we all were retiring for the night. A gentleman was snoring loud sleeping in the side upper berth. The snoring sound echoed to my ears as if someone was sleeping just beside. The arc of ceiling of the coach brought the sound.  I remembered Gol Gumbad of Bijapur. The earphones came handy. I had to plug my ears to limit the savagery of his snoring.

The quality of tea was a problem for the not so elderly couple. The lady regretted that no other tea hawker with readymade tea was available unlike other trains. They found the tea to be very light. A solution was found by using two tea bags for one cup. The lady was still sceptical.

I parted with them now. The journey for them was another 4 hours. Could only imagine their reaction on the quality of breakfast and further events. They had entertainment ready with the Jio device and it already serving them when I disembarked the train.

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