Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Beautiful night in Trivandrum Express

Onam is one of the rare festivals celebrated by almost all sections of society, may be it’s the time when almost all members of the family will gather in single place and celebrate the return of Emperor Mahabali. It’s a happy time for everyone from consumer companies to that of the Beverages Corporation – both will have record sales in Onam time. This is a happy time for travel operators too, no matter whether it is the state run Indian Railway or private bus operators. To get a train ticket (which is supposed to be the cheapest form of travel in India) in this season is difficult, anyway in the last moment the status of my ticket changed from waiting to confirm.

Trivandrum Express was already there when I reached ‘Bangalore City Railway Station’. As Bangalore City was the starting point for this once in a week train, it looks like an empty iron tube. Or as the biggest open drainage channel in India as someone critically mentioned because of the notorious system of disposing human waste followed by Indian railway?

A long journey with will cover the rest of the day and full night didn’t look bad as I noticed many beautiful girls siting in the same compartment. But coming early for the train proved not so-good to me. Before I fully confirmed my seat, one guy who lost his money for buying the ticket approached me – Why I always met people who lost their money to buy the ticket in the train? Last time when I was in Mangalore railway station some one else approached me. Anyway I didn’t question him much – as I know what will happen if you don’t have money to pay for something and people are behaving like their life is depend on that 10-50 rupees. Last time we were in the same position when the only two atms in a city in Karnataka was not working. So I helped him, still I don’t know weather he actually lost his money or not – anyway, I hope that he is saying the truth. But the girls (two more joined) sitting opposite to me told him that they don’t have any extra cash to help him. Are they more practical towards the world? May be they are…

As the time came for us to start our journey, group of girls sitting opposite to me woke up and wished their friend – a happy journey and slowly disappeared. At least today I can talk with some one as she is alone. Often I found that people like to travel in groups and quite absorbed in among them, even if some one looks for an outside contact the length of the bridge often extends to one or at most two.

At least this time she doesn’t have any boyfriend with her. After the boring and silent ten minutes where I don’t have anything to see through the window other than the usual array of multi storied buildings and roads, I decided to start the conversation with her by asking something. It didn’t take much time to find out her profession. I don’t know why girls from Kerala are so much attracted towards the nursing field. This profession remains one of the most sought after professions in Kerala and you can see a huge number of Keralite nurses are working across the hospitals of India.

But the conversation didn’t progress much as her friend also joined from the next station. At first he seems interested in talking with her. They started with Dengue fever and other things - an area where I don’t know much other than the common name of the disease, so I slowly moved my attention to the news papers.

Some one is criticizing the very existence of planning commission – I was wondering how India moved from the socialist era and shed her socialist cloth. Until some years back everything related to the economy was starting from and ending on the tables of planning commission. Now Indians started to question the very existence of commission itself!!! But what I didn’t like in that Indian Express article is the author criticizing the bureaucrats for all the problems in the planning commission. Just like bureaucrats are the reasons for all our problems!!!

Again I took a look into the opposite direction – still they are engaged in conversation, this time focus shifted from Dengue fever to the patients in the wards. As I don’t have to do anything else I simply looked outside and enjoyed the so called rhythm of Indian railway. Mayavati is blaming the Union Government for the ‘Land Acquisition Act’, but what about the stand off between Farmers and UP government over Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway? Why doesn’t she act on that issue, and find a solution for that, before putting the blame on someone else? If something went wrong politicians may even go all the way back to ‘Harappa civilization’ to find some scapegoats.

After sometime I again looked in the opposite direction, the person sitting next to her doesn’t looks like her boyfriend. Now he is more interested in the guy sitting in his other side, leaving her to eat the remaining Hide-n-Seek and Lays. I also went back my news paper.

I again turned the pages. Three Army personnel killed as the copter crashed in Nagaland. The Chopper is one from the Cheetah group; the reason mentioned for crash is Poor visibility conditions!!! Why government can’t upgrade the navigational facilities of these Helicopter’s? They can’t blame poor visibility as a reason for the crash and the loss of valuable lives, in the era of GPS devices, advanced whether satellites and navigational systems.

But the more interesting news in that page was a statement from British premier Cameroon regarding to the question of returning the ‘Kohinoor’ diamond to India. He said “If you say yes to one, you suddenly find the British museum would be empty”. But is that a valid reason for not returning Kohinoor to India, Mr Camaroon? If we Indians like to see the symbols and remains of our old civilization do we have to travel all the way to London? He certainly has to find better reasons. The next was about the no-ball controversy, it’s certainly sad that Sehwag lost his well deserved century due to that no-ball, but I believe that this issue is blowing out of proportions. Whatever happened in field should be settled in field.

There are many more interesting stories in that Express, I closed it slowly after completing it and again looked in the opposite direction. Now that guy is more interested in talking about sand and other things, to the one sitting in his other side. As I don’t have anything else to do I went back to news papers. One news in the front page of Times of India was ‘US tells India to go easy on Dow’. It remembered me about the recent oil spill in US. US administration was ‘very easy’ on ‘British Petroleum’. Also keep in mind that in the case of BP oil spill only 12 people died even if it resulted in a huge natural disaster. In the case of Bhopal, India lost close to 25,000 people and many times of that suffered and still suffering from various illnesses due to the leak of MIC. Come on US – laws should be equal to everyone.

Other news was again related to Mayavati. BSP MPs want to dismiss Karnataka government for the notorious mining scam. How many scams in a year? After electing our representatives we may not get a proper executive but we will certainly get a lot of scams and statues. Next was indeed shocking news – it’s about the killing of Naxalite leader Azad. After going through the recent news paper reports CRPF people will certainly wonder weather they are fighting for the nation or against the nation. Whenever someone from the Naxal’s rank getting killed there will be a lot of people to question it and want prosecution (the heavyweight words like Judicial Enquiry etc) but what happened after the massacre (that to two times) of CRPF jawans? Every year there are a lot of security personals getting killed in the north east, J&K and central India (the so called Red Corridor), these are not the act of nature or due to any illness but they are killed in action, but there is not so hue and cry over it.

I again looked to that girl, against the wind and the light from the train she looks beautiful. She is not in her comfort zone. It is not easy to take a long journey and at the same time keeping mum, unless you are interested in something else. She didn’t seem to be interested in anything. I looked for sometime, thought of starting another conversation, but in the end decided against it (after all she too can start) and went back to my news papers.

There are two more news items which attracted my attention. One was related to the “Civil liability of Nuclear Damages Bill”. It’s also mentions about restricting (or no entry?) the nuclear sector for PSUs. Come on Manmohan Singh, we know what is going to happen if it is fully reserved for Public Sector. The example of Telecom sector before and after the liberalization is in front of us. I am not totally against PSUs but private players should also get the chance to work on these highly lucrative markets. If we are ready to buy Nuclear reactor built by GE, Westington or any other private companies or foreign government companies; then what is the problem in allowing private sector participation if they have the capability?

Next news was about the mammoth hike in the US visa fees. US always say about globalization and opening markets. But are they ready for a full globalization - a free flow of capital and labour? I don’t find any reason for Indian IT companies to fund the construction of fences in US- Mexican border. US have remember that US companies (whether it is GE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, IBM, McDonald’s, HP, GM, Coca Cola, Pepsi, US Investing houses etc) are not only working in US many of them are working in Indian and earn profits. These profits after taxes are going back to US shareholders. As far as I know India didn’t introduce any tax on IBM, GE or any other company for that matter to create fences with Pakistan, China and Bangladesh.

It didn’t seem to be too late, but finally I decided to sleep. With in minutes most of the people who are lucky to have a reserved seat fell in to deep sleep. Trivandrum Express has to reach Palakkad Junction at 3.20 in the morning but keeping the highest traditions of Indian Railway, it reached around 4.15am.

Sajeev.

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