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!
There was a time when trains used to be my favorite mode of travel. I still like it but I would happily take a flight over a train if it is available. Among all the journeys that I end up embarking on trains by the Indian Railway, I prefer the Shatabdi Express experiences the best. And there are many reason for this:
Most Shatabdi journeys are half-a-day journeys. By the time you start fidgeting, you are already halfway through to your destination! Now is that not a plus? My major quarrel with the Indian railways is that they do not keep the trains clean, not even the AC, not even the premium trains like Rajdhani. I can take all this for half-a-day, or at best overnight, beyond that I do not feel thrilled at the prospect of train travel.
As I have to get up really early to catch a Shatabdi Express train, it helps that they provide the breakfast. I know there are various horror videos about train food, but I still manage to eat breakfast most of the times. Dinner is another matter though. I have completely stopped eating dinner on the Shatabdi. I prefer to go home and eat, however late it gets. There have been some attempts to improve the breakfast, but most of the time it is quite uninspiring.
I love window seats, be it bus, train, plane, car, or whatever! When I book my train tickets, I make sure that I have a window seat. It is easier to pass time sitting by a window. This goes for a toss if my daughter is traveling with me. She doesn’t let anyone else sit at the window. It is all hers for all the journeys!
In the 5–6 hours that a Shatabdi train takes to reach its destination, I can easily finish a 200–300 page book. In my student life, I read so many books at one go; now one of the places it still happens is inside a Shatabdi Express train. Otherwise, I hardly find time to sit still and finish a book at one go.
Most of us have to get up really early to catch a Shatabdi. While I prefer to read a book, I often end up falling asleep, particularly after breakfast! That leaves me somewhat fresh when I arrive at the destination.
As my father used to work for the Railways, it was a way of life for us. He is retired now. It really pains me to see that the maintenance of the Indian Railways has gone down so much. I still love to sit by the window and watch the world go by from a train. It’s just that I have a little patience for the filth that comes with it.
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 quit 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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