Travelling is always a pleasure, and journeys become all the more entertaining for Indian Railways. Trains in India are incomplete without the funny and weird incidents that happen in them. The vast population and the various kinds of people on the train are sure to leave you bemused and entertained. My journeys on the train have taught me: a) anything can happen on a train. b) Most of the time, you can’t do anything about it.
Here are some of the weird and funny incidents that I witnessed on my journeys.
1. What’s in a name?
I was travelling from Kolkata to New Delhi. It was a Rajdhani 3AC. Other than my family members, the compartment was occupied by four other individuals, one of them being a peculiar-looking man. It was 11 at night, and everyone was busy preparing their berths, making their beds, when the train came to a halt at some distant station.
I asked the man sitting by the window from the top berth to check which station it was. He peeped through the glass and said, “Sulabh Shauchalaya.” Everyone in the compartment burst into laughter. I thought he might be kidding, but the man was serious about it. On asking again, he said, “humko hindi padhna aata hai. Aap khud hi dekh lijiye. Yeh station Sulabh Shauchalay hi hai”.
None of us could believe what we heard. After we explained that it was the ‘pay and use toilet’ and not the station, he said, “Naam mein kya rakha hai?” I knew then, my guess was correct. He was indeed a creepy weirdo.
2. The Matar Paneer tragedy
The Sulabh Shauchalaya incident reminds me of another toilet disaster. I was travelling alone from Kolkata to Jaipur in January. The train was four hours late to arrive, and so, after finally boarding the train, I gobbled up the train dinner- Matar paneer, rice, and chapatti without thinking of the consequences.
The next morning at five, my stomach starts to rumble, and I rush to the toilet to relieve myself, only to realize there is no water. I didn’t know what to do. I was utterly helpless. I opened the tap again and again, but there was still no sign of water, not even a single drop. As I sat baffled, there was a knock on my bathroom door. A lady was asking if someone was inside.
I told her that there was no water and told her to contact the train attendants. While I waited, exposing my naked butt to the chilly air, she returned to tell me that they would fill the train tank at the next station. Luckily, the next station was near, and I didn’t have to wait long inside the shaky toilet. Ever since this happened, I make sure to ask the attendants if the train tank has water.
On my trip from New Delhi to Dehradun, I lost one of my shoes. I had been dozing off on the top seat, and when I woke up in the morning, my left shoe was missing. I checked everywhere near and under the seat and asked the co-passengers if they had seen it. But no one seemed to know anything about it. Why would someone take only a shoe? I could do nothing about it, so all I did was wait for my destination and then walked barefoot on the platform. It was so embarrassing.
The family that was a part of my compartment had a cute one-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl. While the mother and father sat on the lowest berth talking to me, the kids played sitting on the top berth. I don’t remember when the little kid opened his pants, but I remember how his pee dripped from the upper berth. Luckily I wasn’t sitting below him, but the Victoria Falls left me nauseated. The kid no more seemed cute to me.
5. Laundry lady
While travelling from Jaipur to Ahmedabad, I had these co-passengers who were very irritating. They had some wet laundry with themselves, which they wanted to hang, yes, inside the train. I got pissed when the family lady tied a wire from the window to the top berth and hung their clothes. The compartment floor was wet with water dripping from the clothes.
On telling them not to do so, quick came the reply, “Humne bhi paise diye hain iss train ke. Jaise marzi use karenge.” I didn’t want to start a fight, so I exchanged my seat with an old man who wanted my lower berth. The thing is, no matter how funny or terrible these train experiences have been, I will always love and enjoy train rides.