Saturday, February 04, 2012

Gandhiji and Second Class Train Travel - My Experiments with Truth

Sorry for being absent from my dear blog for so long. Had some health issues to sort out. I mentioned about nausea and giddiness in the bus a few days ago on Twitter. I have been under treatment for a month and am doing okay. The secret is not to believe that something is wrong with you. So shave, bathe, exercise, have your medicines and go to work. Like any normal healthy person. I have been following this for the past few days.

I am reading Gandhiji's "Stories of My Experiments with Truth" and I notice how much it is about food and travel that he writes. Truly for every Indian, food and travel are of prime importance. We travel a lot within the country, and eat all sorts of bad food. Gandhiji travelled mostly in second class trains, that too, without a reservation. Not that he couldn't afford first class travel, but he wanted to get the pulse of the people. When you travel second class, you see India in its feral worst.
I remember my first journey when I was only eight in an unreserved first class compartment when my father brought me to Bombay for a better education. I was so nauseated and horrified by the toilet that I didn't step into it for the three days the journey took in those days. I didn't know to which hell my father had brought me. I sat there holding on, and my father being a careless man, callous in such matters (a miserly man, at that, sorry Dad, but I had to say this! I had not proper food and water for three days, yes, three days!), didn't even ask me if I wanted anything. (Learning from this experience, I would escort my son personally to the toilet everytime we travelled.)
Our trains horrify me still when I travel second class. Though the fare difference between second class and second air-conditioned (second a/c) isn't much, second a/c is much better cleaned and maintained. In the last second class journey we undertook in pouring rain, the compartment leaked and our luggage were all sodden in the night. The passengers talked in loud voices throughout the night and were ill-mannered and uncouth. Some played cards, some played the radio and some ate paan and spat everywhere (smoking is prohibited, so they eat paan instead! Gawd!).
Anyway, I have digressed from what I wanted to say. Oh, forget it! The Kala Ghoda Arts (and Literature) Festival is starting today. Go here to get the details of the literature section on Facebook. With Facebook being the medium of expression these days I am glad everything is in one place. Well, sort of. Bye for now, come again! I promise I will be regular.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

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