General Bogie Travel

I am not sure how many of the erudite people on social media have ventured to travel in the general bogie of an Indian train. I hope to throw light on this through this post because I have tried this twice.

Rule- no 1 : You have to be there at least an hour before the train arrives at the platform.

Rule no 2 : Lots of people know rule no. 1

Even if you are there are at the platform you need to have some muscles, agility and very less luggage if you want to travel without standing for too long. After these two rules, there are no rules in the general bogie. Your situation/ fate is fully in the hands of people around you or your position inside the bogie. Have you heard about the randomness of Brownian motion? You will be able to relate to it if happen to be standing throughout your journey

The first time I traveled in a general bogie was sometime in September 2014. A bong colleague proclaimed that he had easily traveled in the general bogie several times and he felt that it was not much of an affair if you find a seat.

So, we were standing on the platform, waiting for the Chennai-Mysore train. I was holding the dinner we had bought to eat in the train. When the chaos began, my friend who had nothing but a back pack managed to sneak in and find a place on the luggage rack. I was standing right beneath him. Then I found myself seated on the floor of the bogie. No points for guessing the fact that no one could eat the food. And I didn’t remember when I had slept when I woke up in the morning.

The next occasion was even worse. It was a totally unplanned journey. There were so many people on the platform and it was a long weekend. BTW, I had learnt my lessons from my previous experience.

I had to be a bit daring in the beginning. I decided to catch the bogie while the train was still moving. The first bogie passed. I wasn’t ballsy enough to catch. Few seconds later , the second one approached. I knew I had to catch it and I did. Luckily, I climbed up and slept on the luggage rack just like my bong friend had done the last time and I was happy for myself.

But the crowd this time was much bigger and more desperate. The discontent among the suffering of those standing , pushing each other meant trouble for me. Some kept their baggage and despised me for occupying too much space. Some squeezed their kids near my legs. They cramped like hell! On top of these a fight started right below my location between a couple of Muslims who were trying to squeeze in burqa clad women from the aisle near the toilet to a spot in the middle. There was simply no space to even stand in the aisle.

First they were polite, then they spoke about the travails of the poor and finally he was ready for a physical fight! The irony just blew my mind. I didn’t see a bunch of millionaires travelling in that compartment.

Fortunately it turned out to be a verbal fight only. Some people “adjusted” and moved so that they could stand or sit somewhere inside the berth. And they succeeded in their mission. And they high-fived and laughed wildly when it ended. I knew that their next target would be me since their kids were still standing.

The aggressive and maybe drunk guy suddenly saw me and my sweet position and started shouting at me. First he told me that I should be ashamed for occupying the place on the luggage rack “comfortably”. God knows if this guy even had a ticket in his pocket. This is the India! A place where people get to demand more as soon as some of the demands are met. He demanded that I fold my legs and give space for his progeny. I had to first pacify his “anger” and also oblige to this uncouth bastard. Fortunately I was able to save my place and sleep for an hour or two.

After that experience, I decided that I would never ever travel in a general bogie in my life. I hope that Indian Railways runs some extra unreserved bogies during peak seasons. There should be an upper limit for the sake of safety of passengers in general bogie

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