or the last four years, I have been frequent a traveler in Indian trains. Most of them are overnight journeys that last 8-10 hours. And, I hate traveling in AC coaches!
When I tell my family and friends that I don’t like to travel in AC coaches, they call me a miser. Some of them tell me that I don’t know how to enjoy little luxuries that life offers. I deny their accusations and tell them that life is not about affordability; it is about comfort.
Scene No. 1
Once upon a time, every second minute, I was scratching my head like a school girl. Something was not alright. I bought a comb designed to fetch lice and frantically combed my hair. I noted at least three louse running for their life between the bristles of my new comb. I felt disgusted. I did a retrospection and figured out the source – the blankets that comes along with the AC train tickets. I had travelled to my workplace that morning and voila! I have louse in my hair. It took multiple bottles of medicines and several sessions of relentless combing to get rid of them. Louse are gone for good, but those memories of controlling the urge to scratch head in the middle of a meeting can never be forgotten!
Scene No. 2
After the blanket debacle, I started carrying my own blanket. That night, I got into the train sweaty and sticky, and soon, I was shivering! For some reason, the AC was unusually high; a complete contrast to the summer heat outside. I struggled to fall asleep, but I could not. Soon, I started sneezing and began to feel pain in my throat. Next morning, I was down with fever!
Scene No. 3
I was cozily snuggled between the blankets (note: my own thick blanket!) and drifting in the dream world. The stillness of night was slowly spreading within the compartment. The journey was very comfortable and I was glad about it. Until… Uncle No.1 started snoring. He was sleeping on the berth opposite to mine. Soon, the grandmother No. 1 on the lower berth started. From the side berth, a young man No. 1 joined the chorus. Many more uncles, grannies and young blood joined the snoring club. The compartment felt like a madhouse with people (both young and old) competing in some snoring competition. I wanted to scream. I could not. I wanted to run away. I dared not. I silently missed the noise of sleeper compartments
Scene No. 4
I was very tired that night. I knew that no snoring could wake me up. Once again, I drew “my” blanket closer to me and closed my eyes. The silence of the AC coach let me fall asleep in no time – only to be disturbed by a wailing baby. I checked my mobile phone and noted that it was only ten at night. I looked at the helpless mother who lovingly started nursing the just born baby. I smiled and happily drifted off to sleep. Another sharp wail. This time from another baby. Then, I heard many other babies crying, as if they were chatting to each other in their own sweet language. I tossed and turned. I tried to shut my ears and concentrate on my breathing. No escape! The parents started losing their temper and the grandparents started making weird sounds to distract the crying babies.
The noise of sleeper compartments is so loud that such petty noises could never overpower it. Cursed myself for booking the AC coach (again).
Scene No. 5
My house is always clean and I take any trouble to maintain it at its best. But, the cockroaches started bothering me. They were in almost every nook and corner. I didn’t know from where it could have come. And, I figured out the source of those cockroaches when I traveled in the AC coach (for the nth time). I found many in the compartments and realized that they would have entered into my luggage and made a house in mine. Between, did I mention that there are rats too? I think that these creatures feel as trapped as the travelers in the AC coaches.
Scene No. 6
Disclaimer: I am single/unmarried and happy. And I don’t feel jealous towards committed/married people.
Having cleared the air, some couples mistake the AC coaches to their private chambers. With the nice blue/brown curtains around, they take advantage of the privacy. I have seen couples kissing each other, letting their hands explore each other and what not! They cuddle on the same berth under a blanket and pretend to be enjoying the scenery outside (mind you, when it is pitch dark outside).
So tell me, is life all about affordability? Can any noise be as soothing as the noise of the sleeper coaches? Can the AC be the alternative for the normal temperature in the sleeper? Can the kisses be more sensuous than the stolen and shy glances between the couple? Can money buy peace, freedom and happiness?