Traveling-Dreams in Third Class Compartments

Growing up in the Eastern Uttar Pradesh’s plains and having never ever visited a hill station until first 20 years of my life, I was always fascinated by the backpackers and foreign tourists who I came across at Varanasi railway station during my childhood. Perhaps it was also those cheap scenery wallpapers which hung on the walls in 90s which fueled my second wildest fantasy i.e. traveling to the mountains and having a house up there. The wildest fantasy for me was that of Mallika Sherawat those days (Murder the movie, remember?) but that is a story for another day. 

So whenever an older cousin or a relative offered to take me to some place he was going to visit, I would always be ready like a street dog following you for Parle-G biscuits, expected that I was going to visit a beautiful place. And that’s when traveling started for me and so did the harsh realities of my travel-dreams. 

Those early journeys were hardly over 200 Km long and were to places located between Allahabad and Patna— a landscape without hills or beaches. In those days (1999-2000)—and even now, roads in UP-Bihar (my town is in U.P. near Bihar border) were like nightmares. They were bumpy, full of potholes and mostly dirt roads in the country side; crowded, narrow and again full of potholes on the urban side. Thanks to our talented (at corruption) politicians of UP and Bihar and the road contractors, when a repair work started from one end of a, say 45 Km long road, by the time the project reached the other end in 5-6 years, the initial point would already be in bad condition. Moreover, some roads were not even this lucky; they turned worse even than the dirt roads and became like a typical ruin of Harappan Civilization. 

A typical crowded bus of UP. Courtesy: Google Images

A typical crowded bus of UP. (Courtesy: nothing else but Google Images)

A typical UP-Bihar Road like a ruin of Harrapan Civilization

A typical ruin of Harrapan Civilization  U.P.   (Courtesy: Google Images)

One can still endure these roads if given a means of comfortable transportation system. But no, even this expectation was a fool’s paradise. In a jeep with a capacity to seat 11 people at max, no driver-conductor will move their vehicle until at least 16 people were seated and that was  not counting the poor kids like me who were to stand and were not considered for being allotted a seat despite being charging for a half-ticket. I had to seen rains of vomits because of these roads and suffocation. Every bus had puke-marks on the outside its windows, without exceptions.

These experiences were a big blow on my idea of travelling and exploring. But optimistically, I thought maybe the journeys beyond this so-called rather backward part of the country would be better and pleasant and maybe I should try other means such as trains, I thought.

 As a young boy, I read a lot about how Gandhiji used to travel only in 3rd class compartments in trains, despite being offered for first class ones. I considered him a man of high inner values, which he was in reality, I assume. But then I did not know why even the best of the activists of our generation like Anna Hazare do not even dare practice these values of Gandhiji, despite being his horny followers. And the reason I understand this was the fact that I was yet to go through my most painful train journey in a third class compartment.

I had just cleared my 12th exams and was to go to Agra from Varanasi— a 12 hours journey by train. I did not have a confirmed rail ticket. So the last option was to travel in the 3rd class because the next day was my entrance exam in a university. When this train came to the platform, I started looking for the third class coach and when I found, entering it was the last thing I wanted to do on this earth. But anyhow, I had to enter that bogie because that was the train to my last career-option, to a quality education.

The train was more crowded than the one you would have seen in the movie The Schindler’s List. And this is not an overstatement. One could not even stand straight. If entering the bogie was a war then getting out it at one’s station was a world war of a sort. And in these conditions, I was to travel for the next 10 hours.

A struggle for entering a third class Indian Rail compartment. (Courtesy: Google Images)

A struggle for entering a third class Indian Rail compartment. (Courtesy: Google Images)

I stood in a single position, fixed like a statue. After 2 hours, when I was able to climb up one of the upper berths where I spotted some space to sit, it was like that precise moment of happiness from the movie The Pursuit of Happiness. This berth was already broken in a way that only a couple of iron bars was left which made a space only 2 inches in width to sit. It seemed enough for my tiny skinny ass. But the moments of happiness were short-lived because, in less than an hour, the iron bar started hurting my bony ass.  Somehow, I endured. 

Once climbed, one prayed to God for not having to climb down, not having to urinate or to shit because it was almost impossible to reach the toilets only to find them already occupied as seats by other passengers. 

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A typical but not the worst inside view of a third class compartment. I have seen worse. (Courtesy: Google Images)

And boy, finally, I finished that journey by sitting in only one position for 10 hours, without using a toilet. And this I consider as one of my biggest achievements in life. 

Also that day, my respect for Gandhiji was multiplied…  Not by 69, of course! 

While urinating after that journey, I pledged not to travel in 3rd class ever again. And luckily I never had to do it again after that. 

 Jokes apart, the problem is severe than it appears because it has become a reality for most people of our country; a reality that they cannot escape. People who can either not arrange a confirmed rail ticket or cannot afford have to travel in inhuman conditions.  It’s sad and ironical that we aspire to surpass China as an economy in terms of business and production but not in terms of quality life. Maybe, latter is the by-product of the former but surely, it does not receive the attention it deserves . 

I don’t feel qualified enough to point out the root causes or suggest any solutions. But as a citizen of an Independent country striving hard to develop, I feel very bad to see people traveling like this. 

 In between all this, when I hear about backpackers and travelers who just start their unplanned journeys, without a confirmed ticket, in cheap and affordable ways, enduring all odds, I feel jealous, hopeful, fascinated at the same time. 

Hats off to such travelers and backpackers… And to Gandhiji, of course! 

Someday, I will grow long hair and long beard and travel all around India or may be all around the world, without an itinerary, without a confirmed ticket, without caring for a fucking sarkari naukari

Wish me luck!

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The Guitar C*utiyapa

Why are most of us so obsessed with guitars?

Let me start this analysis with my own little story. I was born and brought up in a dehati area of UP where people don’t give a shit about rock music, where Manoj Tiwari is a superstar. In that part of the country, learning music is considered to be a bizarre thing and is left only to the Brass Band Party artists who play “Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shadi Hai” in weddings. Hence, I could never ask my father that I wanted to join a Harmonium or Keyboard class because the idea seemed as awkward as being in love with a she-male.

However, back then also, the instrument which I fantasized of  playing was Guitar. But, to my disappointment, There were only Harmonium, Tabla and Dholak classes available in my area. So I had to give up. Thanks to god that I happened to learn it in my last college days, eventually.

So, what’s so special about that? Almost everyone wants to learn how to play guitar. If not learn, then at least, most people want an FB profile picture with a guitar.

That’s exactly what my point is. Why do, when it comes to learning a musical instrument, more than 74.81% of people want to learn only one instrument i.e. Guitar.

In search of the reasons and the truth behind our obsession with guitar, I did some retrospection, the findings are as follows:

  1. Guitars are cool: First things first. It might sound not-so-unusual but the fact is—guitar is a cool instrument. You can carry it anywhere. You can play it even while shitting. And most guitars don’t need amplifiers and that means no need of electric connection. And It is a sexy instrument with curves so it has got potential to attract frustrated single guys. And even a fool thinks he looks cool with a guitar.

   You can sing while playing a guitar which is a luxury not available with most other instruments.

  1. Anything is possible with a Guitar: If you are a guitarist. You can do loads of stylish stuff while playing a guitar and make the chicks go crazy. These stylish things may include making face:
    1. As if you are suffering from constipation

      A guitarist suffering from conspitation.

      A guitarist with  suffering-from-constipation expression.

    2. As if you are urinating on the top of a mountain. Relaxed.

      A guitarist with peeing-on- a- hill-top- expression.

      A guitarist with peeing-on- a- hill-top- expression.

    3. As if you had an electric shock.

      Steve Vai with electric shock expression.

      Steve Vai with electric shock expression.

    4. As if you just shat in your pants.

      Eric Clapton's oops-I-shat -in-my-pants expression.

      Eric Clapton’s oops-I-shat -in-my-pants expression.

    5. Etc.
      Hendrix playing with his tongue.

      Hendrix playing with his tongue.

      The Jimi Hendrix Experience in concert at Olympia, London, Britain

      Hendrix in style

      Van Helen with ants-in -the-underwear expression.

      Van Helen with ants-in -my-pants expression.

Considering the above cool stylish acts, as per my estimates, someday, guitar-playing will evolve so much that Guitarists will literally be able to put the guitars into their own asses while playing and  produce a new kind of sound out of it.

Dude! You cannot do these many things with any other instruments.

Being a below-average guitarist myself in a semi-average band– as per music community’s standards, I could never had an ability for such a privilege because I used to get too nervous and find it hard to pluck the right strings.

But the reality is reality.

  1. Every ass can become a Rock-ass-tar: You can fake playing guitar on stage and include your name into stage performers. I bet. I have tried it many times on stage when I had forgotten the chords. Only some people could really realized it and their no. was quite small, thankfully.
  1. Just carry a guitar bag and you are a GuiTARDists: You can make yourself easily recognizable as a musician in a crowd even if you don’t know shit about guitar, just by carrying it. Thanks to its unique sexy curvy shape.
  1. Every Icon plays Guitar: It does not matter who your favorite actor is and who you think is crap, Guitar is played by more than 69% of the big actors who are icons. Amitabh to Salman. Himesh to Abhay Deol. Even Superstar Rajinikath does it.
Amitabh Bachcan playing Stairway to the Heaven.

Amitabh Bachchan playing Stairway to the Heaven.

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SRK played only one chord through the whole movie. Seriously!

Abhay-deol

Abhay Deol giving it a second thought.

Himesh going beyond Hendrix.

A guitar committing suicide in Himesh’s hands.

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Salman Khan with a mujhe-bhi-bajana-ata-hai-Brainchor! kind of expression.

rajinikanth-robot-hindi-movie-2010-posters-wallpaper-02

A guitar feeling happy in Anna’s hands.

But the one thing— besides his great acting skills— for which I so much respect Tusshar Kapoor is that he  chose to screw drums and thankfully, spared guitars.

A rare picture of Tussar Kapoor screwing drums.

A rare picture of Tusshar Kapoor screwing drums.

  1. Being a Guitar Chutiya: And last but not at all, least; you can boost the no. of likes you get on your FB profile picture— just get a picture of yourself with a guitar in your hands.

Don’t believe me? Just go to your friends list on FB, you may easily find at least one Chutiya, with a profile picture with a guitar, who can’t even differentiate between  A# and B♭  but you might surely find loads of morons liking that picture

Although, my FB pictures with a guitar didn’t get much likes vis-à-vis my regular DPs. And I thank God for this— for saving me from being a Guitar Chutiya.

So if you are reading this post and wanted to learn how to play guitar, before you make it final, please consider other instruments as well, choose on the basis of the kind of sound you want to play in order to be a part of the whole art i.e. music.

One should consider music as an art not as a style statement. Don’t decide to learn to play guitar just because Ranbir Kapoor played it in Rockstar. Or just because Slash is so cool.