Indian Railways

My Maahi (Aunt) and her family visited us last month for couple of days….on her (She is a school teacher) and her children’s summer vacation. She lives at Sibsagarh…yeah my favourite place. My Moha (Uncle) is the Jailer of Sibsagarh jail. They stay in a quarter in a beautiful place, just on the bank of Sibsagarh pukhuri (pond), whose water level is above the ground (I talked about it in my ‘About Sibsagarh’ blog). Simplicity is the special jewel of the family.

They came by Rajdhani Express to the country’s Rajdhani – Delhi. They were very excited. I went to receive them from the station.

Train was almost on time: Indian time; just 25 minutes late. As I reached early, I had to wait 40 minutes in the station. Initially, I thought how would I pass that 40 minutes, but it was quite easier when I started observing people around.

While the platform was dazzling with diversity of human being, spits of paan masala, garbage, dust, wrappers, food-wastage, dirty water, mud all were increasing the muckiness of the whole platform. Stink of stool was on the air. Some people were lazily lying, some were sitting, some were playing cards, and some were running for other platforms.

Just beside me, one family – husband, wife and three small kids were just sitting on the floor, probably waiting for their train. Smallest one, almost 2 years old baby was sleeping on the floor, keeping the head on Mother’s lap. Other kids were having some biscuits. One biscuit fell down from one kid’s hand, he immediately picked up and started having again in front of the parents. After sometime, the couple took out their lunch, probably Roti and Sabji, kept on a newspaper which they were sitting on.

Suddenly a dog came running, passed by me spreading a stink, splinting few drops of black water on my light coloured attire. He was just running in the platform, was supposed to hit a chana masala vendor. Alas! The poor vendor lost his balance. Half of his chana, khira etc. fell down on the platform. But, he was smart enough. He didn’t wait a second, acted very fast to pick almost all the fallen objects. In a minute, everything was set and he started selling like before.

A girl was also waiting in the platform, just few meters away from me. She was probably waiting for the same train I was waiting for. I could see her continuously talking on phone. Suddenly, a lean and thin man, with not very clean attire marched fast towards that girl. Thank God! The girl was conscious, she changed the standing angle in the last fraction of a second, and the guy could just hit her shoulder. He did not turn back, went away in a fast speed as if nothing happened.

All these scenes reminded me that we are in the third world country. The key hitch for all these is the attitude of majority of the Indian population. We Indians, generally consider public places as ‘our’ or ‘government’s’ property and do not feel responsible. This is the plight for all these. We spit the ‘paan masala’ anywhere; if we are eating something, we will throw the wrappers anywhere; don’t put water after toilet in public lavatory and the list goes on.

I could see adequate number of dust bins around me. But these must be not cleared in time. And bins are used for spitting ‘paan’. There are approximately 3467 railway stations in India. I believe, most of them have the same situation. I am sure, the government is devoting resources to keep the country clean, but the people fail to utilize those resources.

Does every year see us going one step forward? We cannot move ahead, if we don’t do our bit and take care of our surroundings and if we be a part of that littering and spitting.

I believe if the people chose to be conscious of their duties, the state would be forced to deliver better.

After the ‘40 minutes’, Maahi and her family arrived. I started bargaining with the Kooli. I saw Maahi putting her pallu of the Saari on her mouth to save herself from the stinks…..


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