The sheer delight of knowing India: travel by EMU and inter-city express trainsIf you want to see the new India, if you want to see the India of the huge middle middle class or even lower middle class citizens, if you want to have sheer fun, if you want to listen to endless jokes, the EMU and the inter-city express trains are the best source of such knowledge, such big observations about human behavior that we can see afresh, and hope people cope with different situations.
When the Chennai to Coimbatore, prestigious , Kovai express thundered at almost one hundred kilometers, soon after it left Katpadi, I found my neighbor very much engaged in conversation with some one who offered a "safe" seat in a medical college, for a particular consideration. A little later, when I questioned about the figures of twenty or twenty five, he did not get perturbed, but was very cool when he said that would the two years of education would cost his daughter twenty five lakh rupees. NEET was a formality, the other fellow assured him.
My neighbor proudly claimed that he was a "practical" man. This, in the cool confines of the AC compartment.
Cut to another scene, in a Chennai Beach to Velacheri EMU train. A middle class man, obviously worried about the cancer treatment of his mother, was seen loudly inquiring with some doctor, if the stage was really the first stage. He was worried about the cost too.
A group of young IT professionals, all nicely dressed, chat and make fun of the HR guy, who had organized some '"inter-personal skills" program for them. One girl was quick to retort that she had safely slept for most of the day!! It was fun throughout the twenty minutes they were chatting all among themselves.
Life's fun, life's worries, life's lighter moments, the jokes of the railway staff who are the real regulars, the sweet smell of home made sambar and some chutney, along with some kichchadi, also home made, that gets eaten on the way, the constant disturbance of the vendors who sell so many food and non-food items -- India has it all.
It is a sheer pleasure travelling by the EMU and the express trains. It is difficult at times to navigate the huge crowd. Yet, one can always see people chatting like there is no tomorrow. People who poke fun at others invite all attention.
Life goes on.....