The ill omen to Mumbai journey was evident when one of our reserved seat in gareeb rath was the innovative “side middle berth”. Though you can manage to sleep on it in with the flow of ongoing disappointing life, dining in that tiny space with the third (unknown) person sitting is not gem of an idea. Luckily some of the berths were not yet occupied and so we decided to shift our dinner plans on those untouched places. While we were yet stuffing ourselves with lukewarm food we just bought, the train slowed down to accommodate more human beings. An air of discomfort got mixed with the smell of our overpriced food. We didn’t want to see the rightful occupant of the seats just now. Our mouths were too filled to say much and the table was little dirty for their mineral bottles. With grace of hypothetical God no one joined us but this started a better dinner conversation.
We started talking on how people react when they see someone sitting on their reserved seat the moment they board. Discussion went on to the way they assert their right and other related topics. There is one kind who is always sweating. Journey has never been good to them and they have a phone waiting for them. They have to inform their kin and kiths about their safety and security the moment they can place themselves on their month ago reserved seat. The person is always well aware of his berth and coach but as soon as he finds someone on his place he takes out his ticket and reads to himself (only little louder than required) the printed seat number. “B 13...umm forty twooo.. forty three” ,he says to himself and looks at the person sitting. There are some who have a little resemblance to these ones but with a slight difference. As soon as they come close to their berth they start talking among themselves about the seat number they got. All should know, this is where we have the seat!!!Then come those who are coming to see off some of the ladies and they have higher responsibilities than Baba Ramdev might assign to himself. They are little more aggressive and they keep on instructing their well informed ladies about the seats by pointing their fingers and suggesting them the plans to sleep there at convenient time. They keep repeating instructions followed by “okay” in respective language and dialects and they ensure female reservation to be functioning at its best. Few fellows are meek and confused and I fall in the category on my better days. These poor creature would just stand for a while looking at the fellow, trying to realise the gravity of situation. They would fear the ones in waiting list and open to proposals to shift their berths in order to work out tedious permutations and combinations of families which got separated by Indian railway’s booking system. They would wait and watch and would share the seat of someone nearby uncomfortably. They have their nightmare if the intruder is already asleep and would start making strategies if the person happens to be a lady of a nearby berth year, in which case a gentleman is screwed between morals and imaginations.
However the people who are portrayed as worried here are not so pointless. Not long ago getting your own seat was not so easy. Often people had to share the space against their will. Often they had to try to sit in that place. Sometimes they had to fight to fit in their own seat and face the glare, had they shown any intentions to sleep. But things have gotten better these days. Now we respect reservations more than we used to earlier (smart comment??). Now journeys are better and more on time. Now we don’t have to fight to sit once we have our name on the chart and people who couldn’t get it that way are more polite than before. One of the ways we can see our progress as a society. Anyways I should not try to pile on this topic. But on a similar note I noticed that new coaches in train are not as much wall painted as earlier. Good for nation, bad for the bored pooping fellow.