I recently visited Jaipur with my parents-in-law. My husband or Chhavi didn’t join us as one had office and the other school. We had a nice trip but today’s story is about our return journey from Jaipur to Gurgaon by Shatabdi Express. The train is 12016 Ajmer Shatabdi Express.
There was a time when I was fond of Shatabdi journeys. At that time the coaches were new. Now Shatabdi coaches are really old. The whole Shatabdi system needs new coaches and better food. I can’t remember when as the last time I saw reasonable coaches or food in a Shatabdi train.
But Where is Water?
The train came on time. We boarded it easily at Jaipur. We all settled peacefully. It was a weekday and the train was not full. After a while my mother-in-law went to the washroom. She came back and asked for mineral water as there was no water in the washroom! This was a first for me!
After hearing that I refrained from using the washroom for a long time. In the meanwhile my father-in-law asked if I would like to tweet to Suresh Prabhu. I initially thought I would not.
Tweets to Suresh Prabhu
Bu I eventually did tweet to Suresh Prabhu. There was a prompt reply to my tweet. Relevant authorities were tagged and I was asked to provide my PNR number which I did. I am pleasantly surprised to see Jaipur DRM (divisional railway manager) on Twitter. They tagged someone else who was the relevant authority.
But in the end, nothing happened. My coach C5 remained without water till Gurgaon. My father-in-law discovered there was water in the C4 washroom and the coaches were interconnected. In the end I used it.
In my experience of tweeting to Railway Minister was a mixed exercise. The team acknowledged the tweet with speed. But on the ground nothing happened even when this was Shatabdi Express, supposedly one of the premium trains.
Eventually the train crossed Rewari. The next scheduled stop is Gurgaon, our dstination. The train stops only for 2 minutes at Gurgaon so one has to get down quickly.
We went near the door when we thought we were nearing Gurgaon. There were three of us, two other women and an old couple near the door. My father-in-law was at the front. The train stopped and we got down!
But is it Gurgaon?
All of us got down at the station when one of the girls asked, “Is this really Gurgaon?” That created immediate and immense confusion. There were people getting down from the next compartment too.
Then a pantry guy got down and yelled at us, “ye Gurgaon nahin hai!” (this is not Gurgaon). All of us started piling back into the train at record speed. I told my father-in-law to go ahead of me as I would be better at judging what is Gurgaon.
From Garhi Harsau to Gurgaon
When the train started again the door was open. I peered out to see the name of the station where we mistakenly got down! It is Garhi Harsaru! Thankfully we did not got stranded at night there, the pantry guy saved us! It was a cold night too.
The short journey from Garhi Harsaru to Gurgaon was uneventful. I opened the door of the compartment only after I could read the name of the station, ‘Gurgaon!’
In the end, even though nothing happened after the tweets, Gurgaon Railway Station for sure has got a face lift and looks much better and cleaner! I also got a brief glimpse of Garhi Harsaru Railway Station which I never took any notice of on all my previous trips!
PS. This was my first personal trip of the year 2016!
I called home before boarding my flight at Dehradoon. It was July 28, 2016. My husband said there has been a heavy shower in Gurgaon and the likelihood was strong that I would get stuck in a traffic jam. At least my flight was on time. Little did I know that the massive Gurgaon Traffic Jam would be waiting for me!
When the aircraft was about to land at T3, I clicked the picture of NH 8 and it didn’t look good at all. After I got my baggage from the belt, I clicked the OLA App and to my surprise there was not a single taxi of any category available at T3. That was a first! Normally there is hardly a one minute wait and you get all kinds of taxis easily. When I came out the Meru and Mega taxi queues were going back into the terminal.
Now I had two options- to stand in the loooooooooooong Meru Cab line or to take the metro. However if I took the metro to Gurgaon, someone would have to pick me up from the metro station because it was getting late at night. Once again I called home and told them there were no taxis at T3.
Then the debate started- whether I should try to come to Gurgaon or should I go to my sister’s place in Ghaziabad? I was confused for about a span of five minutes. When I called my sisters she happily said that she would pick me up from the metro station if I decided to head her way. The minute my nephew (also known as Brat 2) told me it took him 3 hours to come home from work, I decided I would go to my sister’s place.
I took the airport metro line to Dwarka Sector 21 and then the blue line to my sister’s place. The metro was not crowded at all. Only at Rajiv Chowk the ladies’ coach got full. It emptied out again much before my stop.
I had started from Landour, and on top of that I have to take avomine because I have motion sickness on the mountain roads. After I sat beside my sister in her car, I was happy, I could finally relax and leave the thinking to her.
We reached home quickly and I was good to be at home. It was only after I started looking at the Facebook updates of friends who stay in Gurgaon, I realized what a massive traffic jam it was! I was lucky I escaped it by taking the metro and giving Gurgaon a miss altogether.
How I wish we would improve our infrastructure. How I wish we were not prone to such massive water logging. In fact while I was working I never enjoyed the rainy season, it is only after quitting my job I have started enjoying the rains. Earlier rains were synonymous with traffic jams. Now at least I have an option of giving them a miss!
The Mall Culture is comparatively new in India. When I was in college there were no malls in most of the cities. Today, the big cities boast of one too many. On a 2 km stretch of a road in Gurgaon (quite close to New Delhi) you can count four malls. There is the Metropolitan Mall (with a multiplex movie theater called PVR), the City Center Mall (that has a multiplex called DT) right across the Metropolitan and a place called Arcus. The funny part is there is no passenger subway or over bridge between the Metropolitan and the City Center malls and pedestrians always have fight with the motorized vehicles to cross the road.
Initially, these malls held some attraction for me. I used to enjoy the visits. They are colorful and a good distraction but now it seems that was at least a century ago!
I still like going to the movie sometimes in these malls but on a weekend they get so horribly crowded that all the fun it taken away from the visit. On the weekdays, one has to always weigh the option having fun/sleeping late with feeling sleepy throughout the day in the office.
But otherwise, I have completely lost interest in these places. Why? I find the stuff sold there so overpriced and the hype generated around them huge (I realized this and much more through an excellent book called No Logo by Naomi Klein).
When I realized that more than half the product price inflation comes from advertising and not production costs (Kareena Kapoors and Shahrukh Khans and Michael Jordans of the world get million bucks deal and you and I pay for it) I decided to move my shopping to less glamorous places. I also find the glossy images very boring after a while particularly in conjunction with the girt and grime of my daily life.
Still, malls are here to stay in India. In the same Gurgaon, you cannot find a decent playground or public library. But I guess it is a matter of demand and supply.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quite my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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