Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Daily Grind… Paying to Get a Seat on a Train... Et Al….

This happens every day, day without end. The train arrives and the seats are gone in three seconds flat. That’s one second to jump in, two seconds to reach the seat and then one second left to dive for a seat. Yes, people push, shove, hit, flail, and dive towards the seats in such a mad rush that if you aren’t an expert in this game you will be trampled.

The luckiest get seats near the window, the second not-so-lucky get a seat, the third not-so-lucky get to stand in between those sitting on seats facing each other, and the unluckiest of all stand holding the horse-shoe-shaped hand holds twisting and turning into unimaginably weird shapes as more and more people pack into the narrow space, depriving them of fresh air and so cramping them in the narrow space that they start sweating right away. Sometimes it’s hot and the fans do not work. Sometimes the railway bogyman (my word) switches off the light so that one can’t even read the novel, or the papers. Damn! One just stares into space, as if the end of the world was near.

That’s the lot of us poor folks who commute by trains. And, it’s not that any of these push-as-hell gentlemen do not own a car. Most of them are car owners, but they only use cars to reach the railway station and then take a train to their destinations. Driving to work is expensive, what with fuel prices, traffic, parking problems, etc. They would be lucky if they reach the office in three hours.

So when a colleague who commutes from Borivli said this I was surprised and shocked: he hires a man to jump into the train and reserve a seat for him every morning for Rs 500 a month. Why? I am prepared to pay a 1000 hard-earned rupees for someone who would do the same for me in CBD Belapur!

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