I am posting this as I travel on a train back to base (in an AC 2 tier coach).
Had been off for a few weeks along with kids for their summer vacations (as like the thousand or more other families who exhibit the migrating birds syndrome every year).
And as luck would have it, all the seats we got (3 seats booked for the 4 of us – 2 adults, 1 child and 1 infant) were on the side (side berths as they are called). The dreaded place where you need to squeeze all 206 and more bones to fit in and lie still (for an average healthy Indian, this is a good opportunity to sprain and strain). This is when I started thinking.
Is there discrimination rampant in the Indian railways?
Let’s look from the ticketing stage itself. There must be some catch / loophole in the algorithm which is used to allocate seats while booking, as I somehow manage to get only the side berths whenever I book online. If I consider myself to be a common Indian, then how is it that I always average out to get the side berths, there must be some discrimination here. My fellow travelers need to throw some light on how they all usually land the plum seats?
Now, once I resigned myself to the small 2 by 5.5 feet mini space for the journey, the fun started.
These trains had the facility for electricity outlets, and wonder of wonders, if you are a side berth’ian, you will not even be able to see the power outlet , let alone use it!
It gets better from here on: To add salt to your wounds, there is a table kind of setup for the main berth’ians while the side berth’ians can only stare at this (atleast!).
Next, to add insult to an injury (on which salt has already been added above), there is a small fan on the ceiling again reserved for the main berth’ians, who can switch this on / off at their will, and can also ensure that this fan is cut off for the side berth’ians by sliding the curtains around this.
While I may seem crazy with the above rants, my only request is, will the railways wake up and give us our rights and treat us as equals?
Signing off, a weary side berth’ian.
Disclaimer: I am not a regular train traveler and hence there may be some misrepresentation involuntarily from my side due to ignorance, random issues and lack of sleep from being on the side berth