Travelling from Lucknow to Delhi takes only six hours. And I was almost ecstatic to see that the AC Chair Cars of the Swarn Shatabdi actually gave its travellers plenty of leg room (not that my legs are too long!) As I nestled into one of those comfortable chairs, I smiled at the thought of dividing the next few hours between flipping through a lifestyle magazine I’d picked at the railway station, engrossing myself in the saga of Shantaram’s eponymous novel and staring out of the window. I waited for my co-travellers to settle into their seats as the train chugged out of Lucknow station: Big Fat uncleji struggled with the overhead luggage, while the PYT fished out her iPod; the exec in the coach took out his laptop to peruse through some Power Point presentations and our Mr. Casanova scanned the bogey with his lecherous eye to settle upon the prettiest girl his myopic vision could find. I spent a few good minutes observing the people around me before turning to chapter 15 of Shantaram and adjusting my eye to the tiny font on the page before me. And that was the precise moment that the 2-year-old sitting two rows ahead of me decided to yelp out in – what was it – hunger, fear, disgust, joy? I don’t know.
If I was thinking I would actually be able to read through the whole chapter without another interruption, I was obviously wrong. For the child didn’t take too long to rouse all the other raucous children in the bogey and just about all of them had found something to scream, shout and squeal about! I waited patiently for their mothers to soothe their frazzled young ones so that I could turn to my book once more and comforted myself by staring at the unattractive scenery outside.
And just when I was getting bored of doing that, Drippy Oil in the next seat decided to put his snoring skills on display. And by the time I’d got used to the sound of a lion roaring in my ear (yes, that’s what his snores sounded like!) Big Belly decided he was going to give DO competition. So all of us without our ear plugs suffered in silence the onslaught of loud snores that could only be drowned by louder talk of Miss Know All who had made up her mind that this was the best time to discuss how her daughter’s sister-in-law’s husband wasn’t the good guy he was made out to be with her own sister-in-law. I didn’t know this Miss Know All, but an hour later I knew exactly why her daughter’s S-I-L’s husband was such a loser!
Forget about Shanataram’s sojourn, I couldn’t even concentrate on the pretty pictures in my glossy magazine in those six hourse! And was left wondering if the railways would be better off categorising its travellers according to their type. I mean, really, all the snorers should be clubbed together into a bogey – spare us the sounds of sleepiness, please. And how about packing all the toddlers and their parents into a single bogey so they can shout their lungs out without travellers like me getting all judgemental about the way they’ve been brought up? And wouldn’t it make more sense to put the Walky Talky travellers in one coach to discuss their extended families and their neighbours in peace? After all, birds of a feather should flock together.
Seems like a decent solution to me. Does anyone know Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav?