Tuesday 16 February 2010

When life-lines stood still . . .

Have you ever been stranded in a crowded train with unfamiliar bodies touching you and that almost you fainted with the breath from a stranger's face. Well, this is what happened to me at about 10 in the morning. I will not say that I have never been in a situation as this but then it has been sometime now that incidents as these occurred.

Railways here are known as the 'lifelines of the country.' They are the legacy that the coloniser left behind and one of the many things that most people don't complain about (the other thing that they don't complain about is the English language). Hmmmm, ok now to the stranded tales of woe. As we got our tickets, we also got to know that was some problem and the trains were not plying. We decided to anyway wait for the train and finally saw a train approaching. We did not get it. It was packed like a tin of sardines. We waited for the next train and also managed to get in only to realise that the train that looked a bit okay from the outside was packed. We were literally pushed inside. I was happy as I did not have to hold anywhere. 

Then it started . . . breath, stories, ring-tones, conversations et al pushed on to you. One was forced to overhear mobile conversations, jokes about being in the papers the next day, permission from office as the train was delayed, curses, fights -- All the aforementioned had the same topic -- that the train was packed and the passengers were stranded in one of the stations.

We decided to get out. Very difficult. We managed. The station was swarmed with people looking morose and angry. No one knew why the trains stopped. We were not alerted. This is the way it is in Chennai. We accept everything and do nothing. I was thinking that if the same had occurred in certain other places, they would have demanded to know the reasons and people would have fought for their rights. But here, we love peace and harmony. We just carry on even if the life-lines snap. After all we are peace-lovers and will remain so!!!


  1. Hi Susan :)
    I pray that you never get to have such exhausting experiences again.
    I believe that there has to be more proactive participation by all of us if we need to make systems work and bring in more accountability at the same time.
    Hoping that you have a lovely evening and restful, calming sleep...
    May you have a joyously fabulous day tomorrow!
    Take care
    Warmest regards

  2. hmmmm...i used to ride the metro to/from work during washington dc rush hours - i know very well the train of which you speak -

  3. Dear Ruchi:

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. Oh yes!! I am rested and well.

    You have a lovely remainder of the week ahead.

    Joy and peace always.

    Dear Jenean:

    I am glad that you know what I am talking about. Shared experiences and events. Life is all about that.

    Joy always.

    A great remainder of the week ahead.

  4. There's that same essence in all train stories that you've captured.. some are way more oppressive.


  5. Aw, I so feel for you. I am very claustrophobic and I dislike, very much, when people stand too close to me. As much as I am a very physical person, my lines are very firmly drawn at strangers and I had to, on many occasions, tell people to "please not stand so close to me!".
    I also hate when I am packed in and can not get out. I would be panicking in a second.
    You always bring up the most interesting issues, dealing with human behaviour.;)

    Thank you so much for your very kind comments you always leave at my place, I appreciate your time so much.;)

  6. BM:

    Really? I thought the trains there would be much different than here. I guess certain things never change anywhere in the world.

    Thanks for the time. I appreciate that.

    Joy always.


    Thankfully I am not as claustrophobic. In fact my post was beginning to sprout there in that crowded train compartment. My only regret is that I could not capture the scene there. I wanted to take a picture but decided against that :-)

    You are welcome dear Zuzana. I appreciate your time as well.

    Joy always.

  7. Dearest susan, my memories of the train rides are with you..... on two occasions.... one where were were returning from tambaram, from Saint Mary's school.... and the other was from the beach station, we were returning from the dumb charade competition, and the latter ride was a very calm and scenic one.... :) unlike the one mentioned in the post....

  8. Susan, you are a great writer..I was there with you every step of the way even though it would be the last place on earth I would want to be that given moment. We read in the papers about the transportaion in India and it seems such madness when you see the photos. There is something in the way that you just described 'life-lines' that makes me think otherwise. Well, at most times other than what you experienced this morning.. And for you, which flowers??? I think Pink Rose Sorbet....and Lilac Heaven for when you stepped off the train :)
    Keep writing...it is great!
    Jeanne :) as always, thanks for stopping by
    PS..I have added you to my INSPIRING FRIENDS list, stop by click on the pink flower at the top of my page...You Inspire Me!

  9. Oh yes, this does happen in Mumbai. Especially during the monsoons, when a little excess rain can bring the local train system to its knees. And nothing can be done till the BRIMSTOWAD project is completed. But, newspapers do make a huge news out of every delay in local service or any breakdown.

    But to avoid frequent such breakdowns, the railway authorities shut down a section of the track every Sunday to carry out maintenance and overhauling of the rail lines.

  10. Dear Seema:

    Is that all dear one? Only twice!! Ahhh! BAD. "My memories of love will be of you" -- these lines from a song will aptly describe our experiences. My sweet little sunshine friend. I love you.

    Joy always.


    Many thanks for stopping by the meanderings and taking the time to write. It gave me much joy and warmth. Your kind words brought a smile to my face.

    And thanks for the lovely award. You made me feel special.

    Joy always Jeanne.


    Long time! I do know about the trains in Mumbai. I have experienced them as well. But in Mumbai its crowded all the time and everyday unlike here. Today was exceptional. I am glad that I got out in one piece.

    Take care :-)

  11. I would think that most days this would really make me feel physically sick and anxious. But, on some days when I felt spiritually stronger I could probably handle it.

    I have been on very crowded trains and subways before when I lived in Toronto.... nasty. But, I live in a town in Canada that only has an unreliable bus system. The population isn't big enough to warrant even a regular bus system. I like it that way. :)

  12. I am all too familiar with the gentle and the not so gentle rub of bodies against one another. Riding the metro in Cairo is quite like this. Getting from where my mother lives to downtown is like entering the 11th circle of hell. But there is something so endearing, sometimes, about being with one's people, and hearing private conversations, and sharing. The only thing I don't care for is the smell of someone's lunch wafting into my face as they're speaking with their companion. Blech! But, I suppose it's all part of the experience!


  13. and i might add that i have very nearly been married more than once on those trains! know what i mean? very close quarters!

  14. Susan, Talking of our memories together, they are countless:)) and thats needless to say.... When I read ur Post about Trains.... The first spark of memory that arose was our trip to Saint Mary's and the other one was TTK road... to beach station and the rest of the jourmey... (The details of these memories are priceless... and I am smiling even as I am typing here about it...) Just One among the many many wonderful memories that we have shared together.... All of them Priceless...
    I Love You my dear....

    Cheers and LOve.

  15. Awareness:

    Oh yes. This was a rare occurrence as there was a technical problem. Thanks for coming by.


    I liked the 11th circle of hell!! Experience yes, but everyday going through this is terrible, I think.


    Ha Ha. Trust you to make a comment like that!!

  16. Ah Seema, welcome again. I know we have countless memories which are priceless. Miss you :-(

    Joy always

  17. Good Morning Sus

    Ah! I so hate the crowd especially in trains and buses and look out for empty ones always... mainly the breath issue, the sweat from the under arms... but the best part as u put it, is free hands... But it is an experience, one more added to the pile u already have and it is a subject for a post...

    have a nice day
    Settling down in the big city, haven't tried the trains yet, sure its gonna be packed... looking forward as ever :))

  18. Ashes dear:

    Who likes these crowds, the smell and all that jazz.

    Love to see a comment from the great chef :) :)

    Hugs and more hugs.

  19. Hi again Susan
    I was just thinking that if you have not read Angie Muresan's blog, you might like it. Go to www.angiemuresan.com

    jeanne :)

  20. This post actually reminded me of some uncomfortable childhood memories. I remember myself as a 12 and 13 year old, riding the crowded bus to school and back, standing stuck between bodies. Ancient men (usually in their 40s and 50s, to a child of 12 that seems ancient) would rub their bodies against mine - and I would just freeze, paralized by fear.
    Many girls experience this kind of sexual molestation but never think of it as that. It took me many years to understand this experience and to realize that it was not a fault of mine that I froze and didn't do anything. The important thing is to talk to our daughters about these things openly and give them advice about how to react in these situations, because these things will always happen. I was so pround of my daughter when she came back from the beach one day and told me that a boy tried to touch her breast under water - she didn't freeze. She pubched him hard in the stomach! I guess I raised her well!

  21. Dear Khulud:

    I like the way you have said 'ancient.' Even I have experiences like that but those days I never thought anything about that. I felt uneasy but it just slipped off. Only now I realise, as you have said that it is molestation. Thankfully here we have a separate Ladies compartment in trains otherwise cannot imaging being packed in a compartment full of sleazy and leches.

    I am glad your daughter knows the way to handle these ancient creeps and leches.

    Thanks for coming by dear Khulud.

    Joy always.

  22. That doesn't sound like a good experience.
    People keep quiet everywhere Susan. I think it is because the first thought that comes into their mind, when stranded, is that they have to be somewhere and by a certain time. No one takes out time to pursue the matter, the lack of quality service. That is sadly how fast and self absorbed our lives have become.
    I think I am beginning to sound preachy now...I should stop. :)

  23. Ash:

    Believe me it wasn't. I am guilty as well so I cannot talk about this. Why not my voice the first one?

    You are not being preachy. You have just voiced your thoughts, which is fair enough.

    Hope you are doing well and happy!



Related Posts with Thumbnails