Delhi to Dhanbad
30 minutes after start, the train slowed down running parallel to another train.
The refreshments were just served in the Rajdhani.
The other train was jam packed. The sleeper coaches – non ac – were crammed with people, even the lavatories. All the doors were open. At each door two passengers were sitting with their legs dangling out. Behind them, on the corridor, people were jostling even for standing erect.
Well, what is the big deal? It is everyday scenario in ordinary trains in India.
What struck me was the stark reality at that moment. The passengers in Rajdhani were munching the refreshments while the hapless passengers in the ordinary train running parallel just looked on. The kids holding the window grills had their mouths open, the adults must have been cursing their luck. Some might be abusing the system and some just looked on blankly.
I stopped eating and waited for either one to overtake the other. The ordinary train ran fast as our train stopped for few seconds. When the other train inched ahead, the passengers in that were gleeful. Running ahead of Rajdhani was their win, their medal and their refreshment. I could see the sense of pride in the wide grinning most of them.
“You can have your refreshments in an air-conditioned fast train but we would reach home earlier than you.”
It is another matter that the ordinary train was overtaken by Rajdhani after a while at its peak speed and it was just a blur. Neither us nor the ordinary people in the ordinary train bothered about each other.