If you have traveled in the Indian trains you know people follow a pattern. Sesha and I were in one of the AC III coaches in the Karnataka Express train with 6 other people for close company. There are six berths (out of which we occupied two) facing each-other and two on the side (sometimes 3 on the side but that is another sotry). A kid if 6 years and his grandfather occupied the other two seats out of remaining four. Then there were two more couples to make the number complete.
When we boarded the train at Bangalore, there were so many people inside the coach but that is common. There would be two people to see off one or two who are traveling and they will remain inside the coach till the train is just about to move.
Then as the train started all the co-passengers try to gauge each-other. I thought my lot was quite reasonable. I was a little worried about the 6 year old, after all the journey was 42 hours long and even adults find it difficult to pass time. Bu he turned out to be a remarkably non fussy kid, he would only ask like a stuck record, “When will the food come?” “When will the train move?” “When will our station come?” and the like. But that was really not much.
As everyone was coming from a ‘home’ destination the dinner meant opening food brought from home. Only someone traveling for business would be usually an exception for it! Dinner from home over, people in my 8 seats set went to sleep quickly.
I am usually one of the last person to wake up in the mornings and that is what I did. It is a difficult task to use the by now dirty loo and brush my teeth. Breakfast follows it. If the lot is amiable chit-chat would start among book-reading passengers. In this manner somehow the lunchtime arrives. After lunch most of the people go for an afternoon nap.
That is when I decided that I would go and stand at the doors of the AC coach (my nephews tell me that it would be much more crowded in a Sleeper Coach and I may not like it) with my small point and shoot camera. Men do this all the time, women have also started doing it a little bit but it attracts attention.
However, most of the people at the open doors of the moving train were college kids and as I teach students of the same age, they very well left me alone. It must be my frown that warns people not to try and start a conversation with me (even then a school lad borrowed my mobile looking for songs and took one picture of the countryside for me with my camera). I requested a gentleman to take a picture of mine sitting at the door and later I was advised by him not to stand too close to the door when the train is coming to a halt or someone may snatch my camera in quite a patronising manner. One has to take such comments in stride.
Clicking pictures from a moving train can be a frustrating experience. That is when I decided to make a video instead and clicked pictures when the train would slow down!
PS. I am in way encouraging anyone to travel on the footboard and near an oen door. I did it just for a lark and even though quite common, you will find warnings all over the train advising against it.
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