Wednesday, February 02, 2005
I should find a place in The Guinness Book of World Records
Starting from July 2003 until now I have made around 150 round trips between Bangalore and Madras. That makes it a total of 300 train trips ( 150 up + 150 down). With each train trip taking around 6.5 hrs I have spent close to 2000 hours on train. Barring the Ticket Inspector, the Guard and the Engine driver, I do not think anybody else would have spent so much time travelling in trains.
I have gone to Madras (ya! Its renamed to Chennai but I prefer Madras) every weekend. The only 2 weekends I was forced to stay in Bangalore was when Saturday was a working day ( the government elections forced a weekday holiday which was compensated by my company on saturday). Whats more great is some times when Thursday was a national holiday ( Pongal etc etc) I would travel to Madras on Wednesday night, come back to bangalore on Thursday night and travel back on Friday night and come back on Sunday night.
I think the Govt of India, the Railway Ministry and Minister.Laloo Prasad Yadav owe me special gratitude and thanks for keeping the dirty, stinking Indian Railways alive and going. I was thinking of writing a blog on my train adventures but then realized I would need a full book or even a movie to document these 2000 hours of journey. My adventures in train has elements of action (I have seen people fight and beat each other up), suspense (from missing people to missing suitcases to missing slippers), drama ( follow this link to read about my last minute ticket tension) , glamor ( he he.. you have to buy my book for this one), sex ( ditto) and tragedy ( the people who fell down).
Over time I have made friends with 2 Ticket Inspectors and had a travelling companion who kept up with my rigorous travel schedule for 6 months and then dropped off. The curious thing was I still do not know his name. He always was in my next berth. The full six months.. Everytime we saw each other we would slam our heads with our hands to indicate "oh! no! not again". We did not buy tickets together. We did not plan it this way. He was just another traveller who travelled back and forth regularly. Just like me. Which is what baffles me. That we got tickets side by side cannot be dismissed as a coincidence. I used to think that the CIA, RAW or Interpol had planted this person to follow me ( or guard me) wherever I went. I slowly began to dream that I was some important special genetic breed and protecting me was a matter of national security. But then he stopped coming. I remembered Sherlock Holmes' "The Solitary cyclist" ( Is that the name or is it the cyclist ? ) and wanted to name this incident " The curious case of an old man in the next berth". or " the spurious traveller" I will dedicate a separate chapter to him on my Train Book.
I can now officially become a consultant to the Railway Ministry and help them develop the dirty trains. I can write a Dummies Guide to train travelling ( I am still serious about it). I have material for at least 25 short stories ( all real life) on train. I am seriously thinking about this book and working on it. Now there is only one catch..A Publisher!!! I am also thinking of a 23 part TV series on these train travels. The whole series is taken in a train or a Railway Station. Its a stunning idea. I have registered this idea as propreitary :-)
So far around 500 tickets have been booked with around 200 cancellations. I have my own train dress. I always wear this dress when I travel. Never missed even once. So there is another Guinness record. I think I have travelled in upper berth a record of around 290 times. Middle berth 7 times. Lower berth twice and Side Lower once. I have also talked with or met people from every state in India during these train journeys. That I could meet people from Assam and Kashmir was a BIG surprise. I can't place Assam on the map and Kashmir isn't really on anybodys map
Guinness Book people! David Frost! where are you?