The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013



Sounds of different frequencies, each of them loud, sound of a train running at around 100 Kmph, sound of pantry-car waiters and the train staff making in and out of the coaches, and sound of the passengers making informed queries and expressing strong displeasure! 

It was not routine as usual for any train in India, a Rajdhani Express train in this case, after a recent price hike.

This time, it was in the name of improving catering standards. The Indian Railways had just revised the catering charges in premium trains (Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duranto) and the TTEs (ticket checkers) were a harassed lot. They had to issue receipt of the difference of the amount (after the fare revision) to every passenger who had got the ticket booked before October 16.

Given the rush for the Indian trains where every ticket of almost trains is booked within two days of the opening of the reservation window of two months for a train, almost every passenger in the train had his ticket booked before October 16. 

Stung by the sudden pressure of increased work, of writing and issuing almost a thousand receipts, TTEs were not even asking for the mandatory IDs for the electronically booked tickets.

This increased fare was reason for the high-pitched sound coming from the heterogenous lot of passengers in every coach - varying frequencies, modulated tones, but each voicing out displeasure as loud as possible and this displeasure was forcing the catering staff of the train to make rounds to the pantry car, keeping them on toes.

And it was for a reason.

Apart from timeliness, a factor that is certainly uncertain with the Indian trains, one can also say so about the quality of the catering, that the food being served in Indian trains, even in premium trains like Rajdhani, is simply substandard.

It was the second day of the quality mission of the Indian Railways but the ‘quality’ was conspicuous by its absence. Those regularly travelling by such (premium) trains were flatly saying that whatever that was there in the name of ‘quality’ had certainly come down, in quantity, in quality. And to add to the misery, these passengers were made to shell out extra bucks to improve the quality.

Given the quality of food being served and the menu items in the platter, the fare revision, in fact, deserved a reduction in the ticket prices.

Passengers were feeling cheated.

That was hitting them more, being the immediate instigating factor raising the protesting voices.

And on that day, in the Rajdhani Express, by certain turn of events, I had the chance to sit for a while in the pantry-car of the train.

It was more maddening there than the situation in the coaches, something that is always the case. This time, it was heightened up. The increased tension in the atmosphere there had its origin in two reasons.

Incidentally, the food packets delivered by the base kitchen of the government run catering outfit were less than the passenger count and the pantry-car staff was in overdrive to meet the requirement. Okay, it was normal to happen so. But it was on a day when there was additional mounting pressure on the pantry-car staff.

It was happening along side the chaos of the anger of the passengers spilling over in the aisles of the coaches. On target were the pantry-car employees who were still supplying the substandard food products, even if the passengers were now paying a revised, increased fare in the name of an upgraded menu.

To continue.. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -