Monday, November 30, 2009

Traveling near restrooms in the train isn't fun

I had an interesting (rather horrendous) experience during my return trip from Tiruppur, last week. I had booked two tickets (for me & my wife) from Tiruppur to Chennai. Both the tickets were in the Waiting List (single digit waiting list number) until the last day. Most of the times, the wait listed tickets get confirmed just before the charts were prepared. Unfortunately, only one of the two tickets got confirmed during the day of the journey. I went to the station and checked at the "Inquiry" department. The person at the counter recommended me to board the train & check with the TTE if there are any vacant berths. It was too late for me to cancel the train tickets & to take a bus to Chennai. Also, it won't be comfortable to travel in a bus, with a kid (There is only one stop in-between the whole journey & kids cannot control peeing in-between). I decided to take a chance - hoping that I would definitely get a berth since I'm traveling with a female & kid.

The train (Allepey Express) came to Tiruppur at around 10.45 pm and we boarded the train. To our surprise, there were already 3 folks sitting near the restrooms because their tickets are wait listed. All the lights inside the coach were switched off and the coach was completely dark. All the other passengers were in deep sleep. I asked my wife and kid to get into the confirmed birth. I waited for the TTE to show up. The train started to move and pick up speed. I waited with the other 3 passengers near the restrooms. The TTE showed up in about 15 minutes. He said all the berths are booked and there are no vacant seats. At about 11 pm, the train stopped at Erode and all my 3 companions got down/vanished.

I was the lonely person sitting near the door/restrooms. It was not a pleasant experience, though. I was very tired and fell asleep in about 30 minutes. However, I couldn't continue to sleep for more than an hour. The smell emanating from the restrooms was constantly increasing as more and more passengers start to use them. To add to this, there was a trash bin close to the restrooms. It was filled with cockroaches and mosquitoes, that were busily scavenging the left overs of food parcels. I couldn't imagine how I was able to sit there for such a long time. But, I didn't have any other option. My eyes started to burn and I went back to sleep again. Around 4 am, the TTE stopped by and asked me to take a vacant berth. I had a sound sleep for 2 hours.

The few hours that I spent near the restrooms made me to think about several issues in the system - the 'automated' ticketing system that confirmed just 1 out of 2 tickets, the unhygienic condition of the restrooms, the fate of poor passengers who travel in cramped 'unreserved' compartments etc., At least, I was better-off traveling in an A/C coach :) I'm thankful to the TTE who let me stay in the A/C coach. The state of unreserved coaches is pathetic. They are packed with people and there is hardly any space to walk or even to comfortably sit. We keep talking about human values and human rights. But, people are packed like cattle in these unreserved coaches. When would the system change? I'm very confident that the system wouldn't change, unless we do something about it.

Also read:

Skywalks in Train Stations - What are they for?
If I don't care, who'll care?

1 comment:

  1. Hi saro these days you are not posting anything new I am a fan of your blog and checking every 3rd day Thanks for all the info, updates


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