Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal

Bangalore to Bhopal 
In that Christmas morning, I woke up early. May be it’s a universal thing, I don’t know; whenever I have to go for a long journey I used to wake up well before the time. Train was after 12 noon, so there was enough time. On that Christmas day, there were not much people on the streets. May be all went to their home to celebrate the occasion. Finally I got in a BMTC bus heading towards majestic bus stand. I had to reach St. Jones cross to find some traces of celebrations, a good number of happy faces were coming out from the gates of nearby church. Leaving them there, I continued my journey. Finally I reached Majestic, from there to Yeshwantpur in another bus. Train was already there, I just had to get in. Outside, under pipe, one guy was taking bath – looks like he already lost somewhere in the continuous flow of water coming from railway lines.

Slowly train started moving forward. Background scenery of Bangalore city gave her way to green agricultural lands. There were a long stretch of agro lands, unused lands exposing her bare chests where only shrubs were growing, a group of coconut trees in small plots, plants growing in black soil etc. Train was moving frustratingly slow, as if a girl moving to see her future husband with a tea cup in hand. Train really lived up to her name (Sampark Kranti) - stopping here and there either waiting for signal or giving way to another train. When rest of the world are creating new records in High Speed Rail, can’t we avoid these glitches atleast in long distance trains?

Bangalore to Bhopal 
Inside it was interesting; co-traveller’s in my compartment very friendly and active. There were two students and one mid-aged couple from Delhi, one guy from UP, two seats were empty as their seats were promoted to upper class, one was vacant and the remaining one was occupied by me.

Sitting on a comfortable side seat, I used my time to watch outside sceneries. The guy from UP was also silent, main arguments were among students from Delhi and the mid- aged couple. Topic was Arranged marriage Vs Love marriage. It went on in expected lines, mid-aged couple argued about the advantages of arranged marriage and young girls argued for love marriage. As often happens, it didn’t reach anywhere; both groups looked more convinced about the strength of their arguments with the passage of every minute.
In between, discussion moved towards – the brutal rape and subsequent murder of 23 year old student in Delhi. There were no two opinions about the gang rape, everybody condemned it.

Many stations came and went, there were few people living anywhere close to tacks, except in the vicinity of big stations. After sometime it became a pattern, in between stations there would be a vast expense of land devoid of any dwellings. What more, in some places, where we could see people working on the land, were deprived of any visible transportation channels – as far as I can see from the train there were no highways, hotels, wells, rivers etc.

Inside arguments about love Vs arrange marriage were still on, there were no shortage of examples. If they continue the debate for some more time, their examples would definitely exceed the total number of marriages I attended till now.
Bangalore to Bhopal 

From Davenagere one more person joined to our compartment. Born and brought up in Orissa, studied in Punjab and currently working in Karnataka – he formed a triangle of activity with legs on East, Central and North India. He came with some new energy, slowly our conversation moved towards the main tourist destinations in India. He started with Bhubaneswar, Bhtarkanika, Puri, Kalahandi etc and traditions prevalent there. Rest joined with their memories from other states.


When we talk about customs how can we forget about marriages? The main focus was on marriages from Punjab, UP, Haryana and Delhi. As a person, who neither travelled in these states nor attended any of their marriages, I became a good listener. Topic was interesting, couple joined the discussion by describing Jat's marriages, guy from Orissa dropped his serious look and told us about Punjabi marriages. Suddenly someone asked the silent guy from UP – ‘Are you married?’ He was so shy to say yes or no. Once he told yes, there were a lot of questions waiting for him. Another one suddenly interrupted the discussion and told us that, there were places in UP where people will fire their gun in the air during marriage celebrations. Suddenly one person from the left interrupted and asked, ‘what will happen if some drunkard got the gun?’ Answer was simple, he will also (at least try to) shoot towards air (if missed you have to call an ambulance). By the way I don’t have any independent way to confirm this habit of firing gun in the air. I still have serious doubts on that.

Next in line was Punjabi marriages and dance. All of them had a special respect towards Punjabis; this was mainly because of their martial traditions. By this time our side of earth completely turned her face away from sun. Tired of day long conversation, everybody was preparing for sleeping. Suddenly our Orissa guy started talking about all the movies he saw in theatre. How he was so eager to watch movies in his childhood days and lost interest now. Another 20 minutes went in that way. By the way, considering the information he gave to us, I doubt whether he lost any interest at all. Finally it was the time to sleep.

Night was colder than I expect. On addition to that, someone opened the door and left it in that state with scant regards for the people sleeping in the compartment close to the door. I had to wake up for closing the door in mid night. Again in the early morning, kids from other compartment again opened the door. They came for brushing the teeth, good habit. The problem was what they did next. I don’t know what forced them to do those activities on an early morning. They were standing on the door steps, holding cold metal bar of train with bare hand, and moving rest of the body outside. It may look good in a romantic movie, but dangerous when you can’t see what lies and cold metal bar slowly freeze the skin.

Next Day

Bangalore to Bhopal 
What I don’t know about the path of our train was, in the morning it will reach Pune station. So the skyline of Pune in the morning along with the sound of new passengers surprised me. Time was around 7.30am, already a big queue formed in front of the wash basin. A group of students along with their teacher came in. They were from Jammu & Kashmir. Three people (two moved out later) settled in to our compartment; remaining people moved to another compartment. They were going back to home after participating in some sporting events. The one who still sitting in along with us holds black belt on Karate.

Train continued her journey towards national capital. Lot of stations are on the way - Daud, Manmad etc. Sampark Kranthi made a long sampark at Saroda – waiting for another train to pass. I got down here and walked through the open platform for some time. A group of ladies, wearing traditional dress, were sitting in one corner. Railway station building looks more like a jail.


How you will spend time, when there are a good number of people sitting together in a room but little option to go out? One good idea is to play Antakshari. I think almost all knows about antakshari, for those who don’t know, in anthakshari there will be teams; one team has to start by singing a song (generally a movie song). Next team has to sing a song whose first letter will be last letter of the song sung by previous team.
Here I have little choice other than listening. This problem you will face when fast forwarding the songs while watching movies. But I had some company here; at least three others simply listened. Gents formed the first team and ladies the next one.

They really surprised me, middle age couple and one student from Delhi sang a lot of songs. Many of them I never heard and probably will never hear again. It was healthy competition, from gent’s team one guy really fought hard only to attain martyrdom in the end. They lost the competition by 5-0 or 5-1. Unfortunately, after spending some good hours on songs and bollywood gossips they again went back to the debate of arranged Vs love marriage!!!

Train was close to Berapur station; outside up in the air one kite was kissing the sky. Against the blue background it looked like a smile.

In many areas, there was little running water. Most riverbeds were dry, if Railway bridges were not there I may possibly mistook it for roads. Puntaba, Kopargaon (For going to Shirdi you can get down here), Yevla... Yevla station looked like an old heritage site recently reconstructed by ASI.

After moving some more kilometres we could see a big chain of shaved hills on one side. Here also, In the middle of nothing, we stopped again for some time. From that distance, I could see a number of caves like structures close to the top of one hill. If I am not wrong these hills are part of Satpuda/Chandwad range. If it’s correct then, these structures may be part of ancient caves of Saint Agastya or part of Ankai or Tankai forts.

Later we reached Manmad Junction. This city houses the largest grain storage warehouse (administrated by Food Corporation of India (FCI)) in Asia. Home to Central Railway Engineering Workshop, this city is one of the largest markets for onion producing farmers.

More people came in, among them an old lady sat opposite to me. She was curiously watching heated debate on arranged Vs love marriage. In fact she was watching the girl, her arguments about how husband should behave, how parents should accommodate wishes of their child, how arranged marriages ends in failure, how love marriages ends in success etc. After sometime she turned her head towards me, I smiled, she too smiled. What she may be thinking at that moment? About her daughter? About her daughter’s marriage? About her life? I don’t know. Later she asked me to a save a contact on her phone, which I happily did. After spending some more time she got down at Bhusawal.


Located on the banks of Tapi river, Bhusaval taluka is coming Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. Famous for banana cultivation, this city has one of the largest railway yards in Indian subcontinent. The famous Ajanta cave temples are located some 60 kilometres from Bhusaval. Tired of sitting for a long time, I moved towards the door.

A lot of people were standing there, it was here I talk with our co-passenger from UP. In fact he was not shy; it was that particular topic which made him speechless earlier. When he came to know that I am from Kerala, he talk about his experience in travelling through Kerala – fortunately he didn’t had any bad experience. He is working in book publishing industry, so book festival used to take him to different cities. It was he, who told me about bananas and Bhusaval.

TTE (aka Travelling Ticket Examiner)

In every rail story TTEs are an important factor. In short they are the uncrowned monarchs in a running train. I am yet to see any TTE going to check the people travelling in general compartment, however sometimes, they would stand on the entry gate for platform and check all the people coming out of a train. Because of this, whenever I get down at Palakkad Railway station, I used to keep the ticket in hand. Last time in Bangalore city station, some of my friends were waiting for a other friends who were coming in another train. That train was late; because of this their platform ticket became invalid. But these excuses didn’t save them from paying the fine.

But here, what they were doing was, just verifying whether people who reserved the tickets are actually travelling or not. So what about people who are standing? No, they don’t bother to ask ticket from them. Only in one instance, I saw a TTE asking for ticket from a person standing on sleeper class. He showed some ticket – but there were some problem with that ticket. Later both of them left. I don’t know what happed after that.

Unnecessary moves

Slowly it became evening; one girl walked towards the door - may be to get some fresh air or to see outside sceneries. After some time, we could hear some arguments coming from there. Many walked towards the door, to see what happened. Two guys were standing next to her, according to them they had to get down at next station and she was standing on the way. So they asked her to move to a side. She angrily turned towards him and asked ‘how you asked? Is that a way for asking?’ In fact, they pushed her to one side, it may be accidental or intentional but people should refrain from these types of activities.

You can see this problem in many places like extra ordinary rush in school or college time, intentionally creating crowded scenarios in front of notice boards, buses etc. Girls are not the only victims; in many cases young, old aged people use this scenario to touch the private parts of younger boys. If you believe that, in Volvo buses and AC class you are safe; then let me tell you – it’s simply a belief not based on any facts; results of later surveys indicates the same.

After dinner, I tried to sleep. Our train would reach Bhopal one hour before midnight. So it was better for to have some sleep. Close to 10.30 I woke up, there was a guy wearing pant, shirt and overcoat and sitting close to the door. He was also chewing something. When he came to know that, my journey will end in next station he sat opposite to me and started the conversation.

Well, have an hour more to go. He started cursing the winter season – how bad it is, how it is not allowing him to work etc. After some time, I asked him, where he is going? He just replied – ‘Chalte chalet pata chal jayega!!!


Train stopped again, some kilometres before reaching Bhopal. After waiting there for some more time finally our train touched the soil of Bhopal. After roaming around the station for some more time, I finally went to the waiting room for spending rest of the night.


Bangalore to Bhopal 
Bangalore to Bhopal 
Bangalore to Bhopal 
Bangalore to Bhopal 
Bangalore to Bhopal 
For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

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