Lalbagh Express : Unreserved compartment

November 17, 2005 at 7:47 pm (Personal)

I work in Bangalore and travel back to my home town Chennai every weekend by Lalbagh Express. Thanks to my laziness, I don’t get a reserved ticket and travel by unreserved compartment every time. But its kind of fun though cos its only 5 or 6 hours journey time and you get to meet all kinds of people. Since its unreserved, you can always expect more than 150 passengers in a compartment meant for 72. This is like a normal crowd.
 
I make it a habit to reach the station as early as 5am to catch a window seat for myself. So I got one this time too and was reading news paper and solving sudoku to kill time. About 6.30am train left Bangalore city. Two more stops at KR Puram and Cantonment before we begin the long journey towards Chennai. When it left city the crowd was pretty ok, just a dozen people standing. But once we stopped at KR Puram, everything changed. About 100 people tried to cramp in to the already full compartment. By now all theoretical and practical limits to the number of people in a compartment have well been exceeded. Must check on the Guinness book of records to confirm this journey as a new record. Slowly men settled down near the door and women started to sit on the floor pushing and yelling at people around. 5 or 6 people shared the three seaters.
 
But here is the best part, I was hoping no one will disturb me cos I am in a single seat and that can’t be shared with adults by any means. But God had other plans for me, two small boys and a girl slowly cramped and inched towards my seat, their mother shouting in Hindi/Urdu from a distance asking them to sit somewhere. Slowly 2 little of them pushed me and shared the seat with me and in a few minutes time another one was sitting on my lap. By the time we reached the next station, 4 of us were sharing a seat meant for ONE. :-)
 
I was working the entire night before and wanted to catch some sleep on the way back home. But that is clearly ruled out now. I love to eat the masala dosas that is served from the pantry. Although not tasty and certainly not hygienic, its like a tradition. I wanted to have it this time too but I couldn’t cos I can barely move my hands 4 inches on either side, forget about holding the dosa in one hand and eating with another when you have 3 kids sitting almost ON you. I hardly ate anything for 20hours and was starving. Still 5 more hours to reach Chennai. However, managed to hold on and started small talks with people around asking about where they are going and what’s the occasion. Seems like all of them were traveling to attend a wedding in Ambur.
 
Three hours passed and crowd started to come down as people got down in Katpadi and ambur stations. Got back my seat fully and promptly fell asleep. Not for long though. Woke up to see Basin bridge station. Had to get up as Chennai central is only minutes away.
 
Got down in central and caught a bus to koyambedu. From there a share-auto to pillar and straight home.
 
Man, what can I say… A great journey indeed!
 
PS: A colleague of mine wanted to travel by the shatabdi which leave Bangalore 30mins before Lalbagh, but I assured him that Lalbagh won’t be very strenuous and its only Rs.102 compared to Rs.505 for a shatabdi. For sure, I was wrong.

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3 Comments

  1. Saravan said,

    I got a chance to travel by shatabdi last week. Except for the Rs.505 factor everything else about this Gentle train is OK. A real class maintenance and the toilets were real clean for the first time in my train experience. I was given with Hindu and before i could complete reading the train has covered the distance

  2. Saravan said,

    I got a chance to travel by shatabdi last week. Except for the Rs.505 factor everything else about this Gentle train is OK. A real class maintenance and the toilets were real clean for the first time in my train experience. I was given with Hindu and before i could complete reading the train has covered the distance. I think its ok for us to take shatabdi chances here n there.

  3. sreeniwas said,

    ya same here but i got times of india

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