We Indians don’t have to be told that our country is over populated.
We see it for ourselves, every single day of our existence-over crowded buses, stuffed train compartments, endless queues in every possible ticket counters, people everywhere we look!
Well, we have no other choice but to learn to fight our way through!
Want to board the bus? Fight your way through the crowd!
Want to travel in the metro? Learn to dangle from the foot board!
Jump the queues, push,shove- those who fight hardest wins!
The queue is moving too slow for your liking ? Poke the person in your front!
Just dashed in to catch a train and want a ticket before it is too late? Ask the person who is nearer to the counter to get you a ticket and smile at those people waiting patiently in the long ,tiring queue , without a tinge of shame (been there, done that )!
Vent the frustration of being held up by exchanging glares!
I mean, we are not the most disciplined people out there, at least not until we cross our country’s border!
Being that said, let me share something that happened to me a few years ago.
While I was working in Chennai,one of my friend and I had to go to Kerala urgently. Since the trip was not planned for and we were not blessed enough get a tatkal ticket, we did the unthinkable. We took the brave decision of boarding the general compartment. And like any other wise female soul travelling alone, our choice was to board the ladies compartment.
By the time we reached the platform( about 1-2 hours before the scheduled departure) , a neat line had formed on the platform.The train had not yet arrived and we were told that the line was for the passengers without a reservation ticket to board the train. There was a separate line for each of the unreserved compartment and we were quite impressed to see people waiting patiently in their respective queues. Not something that we get to see on a daily basis. A policeman was posted near the queue and was casually checking on the passengers.
I remember being pleasantly surprised by this unexpected display of regulation. Usual chaos and rush that I was familiar with was absent.This is how it ought to be, i made a mental note!
We took our position in the queue and since we had reached early , we were somewhere in the beginning end of the queue.The queue grew quite a bit in the next hour,and we sighed with relief, silently applauding our decision to reach the station early.We would surely get a seat and would be able to endure the journey!
The train arrived on time. My friend and I waited for our turn to board the train,gently picking up our luggage. Then came the twist.As soon as the train came to a halt,the whole ambiance at the platform changed drastically.Absolute chaos broke out.The queue kinda dissolved away.There was pushing and pulling in full swing. I watched with growing panic as peopled rushed inside the bogey from all sides.The policeman had mysteriously vanished from the scene.
Before I could comprehend what was going on, I was pushed away by women of all ages while they struggled to make their way in. The thought of having to stand through out 12 hours journey quickly crossed my mind and I came back into my senses in a jolt.I looked around.A sea of women had separated me from my friend.Enough of being patient and disciplined. I didn’t waste any more of my time,I regained my posture,pushed back as hard as I could and shoved myself inside the train. By the time i clambered in, the seats were all occupied.A few of the women had comfortable settled on the floor.I looked around in despair and spotted an empty berth and climbed on it. I arranged my bag and reserved a spot for my friend and her bag.
She climbed in after a few minutes, her hair disheveled,her clothes crumpled. her spectacles popping out! Even my condition was not any better. The pack of biscuit that was in the outer pocket of my hand back was crushed into to powders.
So much for assuming that people would actually wait patiently for their turn to board the train!