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Cattle class to cattle class-a life’s journey by train.

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by sln, Sep 28, 2009.

  1. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    These are days of austerity drive.Sonia Gandhi travels economy class in airlines and Rahul Gandhi travels by chair car in Shadabti from Delhi.Ministers and MPs are under public scrutiny to follow their examples.Unfortunately over the years many them have developed ample posteriors which refuse to be sqeezed in economy class.Some of them therefore take economy tickets and exchange their seats with understanding compatriots once they are in the sky.Five star hotels are taboo for holding conferences and sensing business opportunities neighbourhood udipi hotels may expand to provide conference facilities.On the other hand, generous salary increase has been given to Government employees so that they can fill in the seats vacated by the Ministers.It is not a coincidence that such austerity drives take place when elections approach.

    I had five star comfort and business class travel for 8 years but I took it in my stride that before long I wont be able to afford it on my own.In early stages of life I had travelled by unreserved compartments.It was a thrill to place your towel on a seat and reserve the seat as soon as the compartment door was opened. I didn’t have muscle power but this was more than made up by flexibility,quick movements and ingenuity to find gaps among the surging crowd to reach the target.Then came the skill of placing your elbows in such a way that you got a little more space.

    When I was studying in the primary class, railway line was adjacent to the school.I had seen Britishers standing near the door of the 1<sup>st</sup> class compartment dressed in their night suits.This made an indelible impression on my mind and I used to imagine myself similarly attired and travelling by 1<sup>st</sup> class.My break came in 1960 ie after 3 years of service.My appointment in a private sector firm specified that I was entitled to travel by 1<sup>st</sup> class.I waited for my first salary and the first thing I did was to buy two pyjama suits even though there were other urgent requirements.My younger brother who was with me felt that there was some thing wrong with me.Next day during my journey to Visag when I changed to pyjama suit in the train. I looked through the corner of my eyes for the appreciative expression in my fellow passenger’s face but there was no change.My young mind put it on jealousy and I continued with the journey enjoying every moment of it.

    Then came the desire to fly.The first opportunity presented itself in 1968 when I took the hopping flight from Chennai to Bhubaneshwar. I walked out of the aircraft with self importance to be greeted by my customer.This was followed by frequent trips by air and it lost it’s charm.Then came the desire to visit foreign shores.It was 1984 when I was deputed for a training programme to US-on a dull subject ’Statistical analysis and sales forecasting”.When I told my MD that I was not particularly fond of the subject, he said not to worry and it was just a reward trip for the good work done.From 1990 my travel both in India and abroad was by business class.I enjoyed the ultimate in luxury travel when I was upgraded to first class from business class from Hongkong to Singapore courtesy the airlines.Being a strict vegetarian[not even eggs]was a problem, spending anxious moments whenever food was served but more than made up with champagne,dates etc.In between, there was an interesting travel by economy class to Colombo on a lecture tour arranged by the industry association.I started chatting with my fellow passenger who was a fisherman.He said that he made a trip to Colombo every month.When asked how he could afford air travel, he explained the economics.He carried a Sumith mixer grinder and silk sarees to Colombo and in the return trip he brought Teachers Whisky bottles and had gold rings in his fingers.There was always willing help at the customs.He could not only travel in style but also carry some gift to his dear sister married and settled in Ceylon.

    On retirement I opted to enjoy train journey from Delhi to Chennai along with my Dacshund.It was AC first class and my co passenger in the adjacent coupe was none other than Shri.Vajpayee upto Gwalior.Post retirement in the last twelve years ,barring occasional extravagance by air,our travel has been by AC sleeper.The one enjoyable exception was a trip to Vizag by ordinary sleeper class in a group of thirty people comprising of brothers,sisters,nephews,nieces etc.What with an array of home made delicacies,youngsters at our beck and call and Antakshari competition it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.Fellow passengers joined the competition.Youngsters took the help of senior fellow passengers to detect fraud as I mostly sang the 1960 numbers.We came a full circle from cattle class to cattle class.If only people carry less luggage,observe hygiene there is life and vibrancy in the cattle class. With fresh air and cross ventilation we don’t have to worry about the Swine Flu.The one regret however is that we miss the joy of exchanging food items with fellow passengers in view of horror stories of passengers arriving at destination minus their belongings thanks to biscuit thieves.

    How did I graduate to First class by air from cattle class in train.The guiding factor has been”Life is a cafeteria.You can get any thing you want as long as you pay the price-but you will never get it for some one to bring it to you.You have to get up and get it yourself”
     
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  2. Jpatma

    Jpatma Silver IL'ite

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    LS sir,
    I enjoyed your cc to cc trip. True,most of us would have gone thro' similar experience unless you are born with a silver spoon in the mouth.

    Your closing was too good, all that we have obtained in life is because we went to get it and by the grace of God.

    It is nice to cherish the memories
    Jaya
     
  3. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    LN sir, you lost the attraction for air travel within India probably because you travelled by Indian Airlines, with its intimidating, hefty stewardesses and bad food. Airlines like Jet and Kingfisher (great food, good looking stewardesses) still make air travel worth its while. Travelling in AC First from Delhi to Chennai I have found is a real nuisance for two reasons: One, there is invariably is a VIP in the compartment with attendent security paraphernilia and number two if you travel in Rajdhani ac first, you have no privacy with the dining car staff knocking your door every two hours with some eats or other. If you travel Rajdhani
    AC first regularly, your cholestrol level is bound to soar. Great post.
     
  4. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    Lovely Post LN Sir....Brought back a lot of memories of my travel too..my father was with the railways and was offered a promotion with first class as soon as I was born..So he considers me "very lucky":)..but maybe because i traveled first class the very first time or for whatever reason i am totally disheartened that there are no more first classes in any of our trains..i prefer it any day to AC or AIR travel
     
  5. aparnag

    aparnag Platinum IL'ite

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    lovely post.
    i truly appericiate ur effort
    thanx a lot
     
  6. Malathijagan

    Malathijagan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear LN Sir,
    This was a great blog! It is easy to go up in life but to come back to the place where we started, that too willfully needs grit and a philosophical mind! I fully agree with you on this-
    Love
    Malathi


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  7. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Jaya,
    Thanks for the Fb.Memories start flooding when one reaches the twilight of his life some of them interesting and some of them painful.Share the interesting moments with others and discard the painful ones as bad dream.
    Regards
    LAKSHIMINARAYANAN
     
  8. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Balajee,
    Thanks for the FB.Modiluft which was a novelty including drinks on the domestic flights is no where to be seen.All said and done Air India with its saffron rice and mutter paneer is still my favourite on international routes though Jet is trying to be one up on serving culinary delights.I enjoy train journeys .Give me puliyodarai,chips,moonu paruppu vadai,curd rice and thengai chutney-I am prepared to board a train.My wife and I enjoy playing cards.
    Regards
    LAKSHIMINARAYANAN
     
  9. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Mindian,
    It is a pity that First class has been withdrawn.Roomy compartments,fresh air and respect from railway staff lent a regal touch to this class of travel.It in an extinct species now.
    Regards
    LAKSHIMINARAYANAN
     
  10. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Aparna,
    Thanks for the FB.I am glad that you enjoyed the post.
    Regards
    LAKSHIMINARAYANAN
     

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