Glimpses of India – from the Eyes of an Aamjunta

Boarding the Train

It was almost 2.00 pm, I started journey home from my room. As usual this time also I forgot to carry one of my bags. Forgetting things in the last moment is becoming a usual habit in me. Something or the other … I forget to carry at the last moment 😦 , no matter who accompanies me and how long or short the journey is. Have faced many problems due to this forgetfulness. I sincerely hoped if I could manage this trip without that bag. Luckily, I did not forget to carry my last minute shopping item.

It was getting late for a Local train journey to Dadar and so decided to call for a taxi. I am privileged to own the tel. no of “Vijay taxi wala”. He reached dot on time and was waiting downstairs. I was carrying my laptop with me. In the main-gate (of IIT Bombay), the security guard was supposed to stop any vehicle and ask whether any one is carrying any electronic item as per the security rules. But that did not happen here (that was not the first time also). No one asked me and no one stopped my taxi. Even though I was ready with my gate pass, I was expecting the security guard to follow the minimum security measures. But no one bothered to inquiry. They hardly ask any one carrying any thing; just mute spectators in most of the cases. But, at times certainly harass people to show their power and to score a point. Unarmed, unprepared and indifferent security force of IIT Bombay 😦

Anyway, managed to reach Dadar before time. Konark Express, Train No. 1019, my train and home for the next 37 hours was scheduled at 3.10 pm from CST. But, I decided to board the train from Dadar at 3.25 pm to save some time. Vijay could manage to drop me within 35 minutes as there was hardly any traffic at that time (quite unusual in Mumbai). I entered Dadar Station through Platform No. 6. I was expecting huge police presence in the station after the incident of 26/11 in Mumbai. Yes, traces of police presence were there, but could not find their preparedness and alertness.

My ticket was in RAC and therefore I had to check before boarding whether the ticket was confirmed. Asked the police officer sitting at the enquiry counter to guide me to the place where boarding charts are put. After asking him 3 times, he answered my query with a sign language and pointed his finger towards the notice board in Platform No. 5. I was relieved to see my name in the confirmed tickets list. Tough to travel by RAC for 37 hours without a sleeper berth. Anyway, was lucky this time. My serial number was the last in confirmation, though it was the last berth of the coach. I just thanked my starts and made some telephone calls to friends and relatives to inform them that my ticket was confirmed. Train was on time and I boarded the train.

Train Journey – A Mini-India

My berth number was B3-64. Already two people were sitting in 63/64 by the time I reached there. Both of them were claiming that they have 63 – RAC! Interestingly, some one else came in and too claimed that his seat no is 63. Three persons for the same seat!! 🙂 Could not believe. With the help of the PNR number verification from a BSNL Mobile, they could resolve the seat problem. Two of them had RAC, and the other person was having W/L ticket only. The wait-listed person could not believe how come his seat had not got confirmed, when he had already booked his tickets 25days ago. This gentleman was W/L number 1 whereas the other gentleman was W/L 36! The other gentleman could manage to confirm his ticket through some VIP quota, even though he bought the ticket at the last minute, leaving the other guy with W/L-1. Looks like aamjunta suffers every where, no one listens.

By the time the seat confusion got resolved, TT had verified our e-tickets and the train had reached Kalyan. A new drama was unfolding related to ticket buying and selling. Seat no. 59/B-3 was still vacant. The lady who booked the ticket did not show up. Every one was eying that seat. In principle that seat should go to the person with the lowest RAC. But, I wondered … will the TT allot that seat without taking a single pie? The person seating in B3-63 with RAC started buttering the TT and literally begged for berth no. 59. He did not hesitate to bribe the TT too, opened his wallet and gave two one hundred notes to him. And the TT… thanked his stars, took those with a smile …. his first income of the day. I thought when we are talking and gossiping against corruption and corrupt practices, we forget to include ourselves in the list of culprits. Both bribers and bribe takers are equally responsible.

In the mean while our train had reached Pune, I was dozing off in the upper berth. With a big suitcase, a young girl in her late twenties entered our compartment. Pushed her suitcase under the seat, tried to occupy the seat no. 59, which was already assigned to some one else. She could not believe that her seat was allocated to some one else 🙂 . She started arguing with the TT and the commuter. After realizing her mistake (booking from one station (CST) and boarding from a far-off station (Pune)) she became distraught and composed, but had to finally accept. She requested the TT at least to allow her to board the train and to share the seat with the other gentleman who was occupying seat no. 63 in RAC. She could manage to convince the person and shared the seat.

In the mean time a couple of plain cloth police men came and inquired with many of us and checked our luggages. May be the bombings in the trains and other places in India are the reasons for this checking. But, I did not find a single police man afterwards, in the next 30 hours of my journey. What kind of security measure then? Couple of my co-passengers (including ladies) were software engineers working in Pune. To spend their boring train journey, they were ready with many things, at least some 10 different type of snacks, all the meals of train’s catering and most interestingly they had enough bettle (paan) leafs and all masalas (jurda, kimam, katha, supari.. etc.). Each of them are experts in making the bettle pack and in eating those. Amazing scenes. There was another co-passenger who had a RAC ticket and started narrating his links and connections with big politicians of Mumbai and his lunch/dinner parties with the IPS/IAS officers and the ministers in Mumbai. He did not leave a single stone unturned to boast of his greatness. I did not understand one thing, if he had all the connections then how come he could not manage to get a confirmed seat? May be Laluji ki raj me kuchh gadbad hai 🙂

Home Sweet Home

Train journey was cool, though a bit boring. I reached Bhubaneswar on time – at 4.35 am. My brother was there to receive me. Once I reached there, I found myself at home. The care and concern of my brother, home made food of my bhabhi and the love of my sweet nephew — what else I wanted? The Bhubaneswar which I had carried in my memory and that which I was seeing were completely different. Nowadays, it has grown like any other city in India. But, on the flip side as an outsider in my own homeland, I could witness rash drive of young (kids some times) students and unemployed mass, the effect of liquor on our society, eve-teasing, showiness and artificial smiles of relatives and friends. Tough to accept 😦 I stayed for a day at Bhubaneswar, visited couple of my relatives and friends in the evening, did a little bit shopping for my nephew and niece. I was meeting them after a gap of 18 months, longest gap so far. I knew my parents were eagerly waiting for me in my village…. I got at least 15 calls on that day with only one question: “when are you coming?” “Come at that time, do not bring this and that”… etc., and etc…

Once I reached home (village), I felt like the king of that place 🙂 . Very happy… I started showing all the photos of my last China visit, and was telling the stories of my success/failure, life, future to my parents. Suddenly I realized that I forgot to bring the Umbrella which I carried for my father. I left that in the bus, forgot completely…I felt very very bad. The umbrella was an amazing and unique piece, many people were interested to take that… but, I was adamant that it was meant for my father…. I tried my best to follow the bus, enquired with the driver through some of my relatives, but could not trace it. Felt very low as I was too much attached to the umbrella and carried a lot of dreams to present it with love to my father.

Small Incidents of Big India

I stayed hardly for 4 days at home. These four days I was completely cut off from the rest of the world. There were important calls which I was expecting on my MTNL roaming cell. But alas… MTNL and BSNL had problems, my roaming phone was half of the time struggling to find and register itself with BSNL. More than 90% of the time, its signal was down, and the rest 10%, frequent call droppings, one sided voice, bad signal quality …. I was pissed off with their services. How come these so called basic service providers (largest telecom. operators in India) do not maintain the basic quality in their services? Nobody was listening to my complaints, they were not even accepting their fault. In fact, even now after a month of my coming back from home the service and signal is extremely poor. Other users also are facing similar problems. Had it been in USA or other European countries, the operators would have been sued for service failure. I had to struggle a lot to call my friends in Mumbai for updates.

While at village, I came across with some interesting facts. My father was narrating to me about the Rs 2/- per Kg rice scheme introduced by Orissa Govt to help the needy. Initially when I heard about this I was thrilled and was very happy that the Govt is helping the poor; the common man. But my happiness was short lived. Looks like Rs 2/- per Kg rice is the biggest problem at this moment. Most of the people who are availing the scheme are becoming very lazy. Many of them are not working for more that 4/5 days in a month. Reason, a day’s earning is sufficient for their livelihood of a month.. 50 kg of rice (Rs 100/- is the daily wages) and the other 2/3 days’ work is sufficient for the rest. More than 70% people are not working, not ploughing their land even… why to spend time and money, when they have free food at their door step? The question that came to my mind… is that Rs 2/- per Kg rice scheme for the benefit of the country? Are we doing justice to the tax payers’ money? Why is the govt playing with the country’s future? For vote shake? For power? Election is around, and many parties are committing Rs 2/- or Rs 3/- per Kg rice. My frustration became serious, when I came to know the names of BPL (Bellow Poverty Line) card holders… many rich people of that area are having BPL cards, they get those rice in Rs 2/- per Kg and sell that in Rs 20/- Kg in the market. Pathetic attitude.

During my short stay, I visited couple of Govt. and Private schools, couple of Engineering colleges. What I saw there and what I experienced was pathetic. The condition of the education system and commercialization of basic services in many parts of Orissa (in India too) is something which is of serious concern. Engineering education is a big business there. In the name of charity, people just do business and exploit. They also spend huge amount for bribing the authorities (be it state education board or national education board) to get the accreditations. The common man suffers everywhere… their land is being sold at a cheap price to these institutes, their kids are not getting quality education, they pay heavy price as donations and fees for education, and they do not get their full salary. No one is interested to send their wards to Govt. run schools. Every one is interested in English medium schools. But the English medium schools charge heavily as fees and donations, make interviews of the parents and the kids . My nephew was asked for his Class I admission : Name two Chief Ministers in India who were married in the same day?. Neither the Govt rulings nor the court directives stop them from blatant commercialization. Not only that the quality of teachers they have are very poor. Many of them are under paid too. With this kind of education, where do we see our future? I could not visualize…

Corruption, attitude problem, politics, castism… everything is corroding this country and the common man. Unless the common man does some thing and realizes that he/she has to be aware and do things to help himself/herself who else can save? It is late, but not too late. Still there is time to shape the country, to guide the youth and to channelize the taxpayers’ money.

Aamjunta it is your turn now.

10 Responses

  1. Nice Post. Enjoyed, thought as if I was traveling 🙂 Thanks

    I can understand the situation of political forces of India. Pathetic people and pathetic alliances.

    Is there a solution to it?

  2. Small incidents in Big India? 🙂

    Nice story out line and contents.

  3. Really amazing. Reading peacefully. This was not the story of a person who travels in such pathetic situation but reflects alertness towards people. How general people living and under what circumstance they believe where there is no security. Every common man’s duty to come forward and keep eye open and create atmosphere so that man can realize peace, feel safe whenever & wherever he goes. Always choice the right man for right thing, do don’t go through the politics or chair. Time will come to you .. just go up & up and never look behind …………

  4. Thanks Sridhar, Madhu and Bijay.

    @Sridhar: Yes, solution is there, but people like you and myself should participate.

    @Bijay: You are right, it is every one’s duty. But how many of us understand that? Anyway, I still hope…

  5. Interesting Post. Thank you.

  6. A keen eye for details. An easy flowing style of writing. Plus highlights the current societal scenario. Good work!

  7. Great Blog Dada. Very bold one. Expect more such articles from you.

  8. Thanks Satyask, Kadmbari and Shanmuga for your comments and encouragement.

    Some addition to this post: For the election, every political party is trying its best to get one and only one thing – vote. Recently, in Odisha, Congress has promised to give Rice at Re 1/- per Kg after election. This is just to match BJD’s Rs 2/- per Kg policy. Is this for the betterment of the society?

    Aamjunta has to decide now – whom to vote!

  9. There is no solution to the common problem in train regarding corruption of TT’s until a sound policy by the authorities. 100% of travelers are aware of it..still nothing happens. Who will stop it? Yes it can be done through who supports it..i.e our systems..Govt plans so many precautions to stop it…so the responsibility goes to us…
    if i could have been that place then just i could have taken silently a photo in my mobile while taking money from other persons and posted it to the public grevance. At least as a citizen we can do a little effort for our system na..just post it to public grevance and matter is over for us. let them follow the reality..
    Time has come for the common people to “Arise, Awake and be quality cautious.

  10. Good one 🙂 Nicely written….

    Question. Hamesha aamjunta ke saath ye sab kiyn hota hai? 🙂

    Suggestion: Abhi kitab likho, blog me kya rakha hai 🙂

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