Boasting of being world's largest network, the Indian railways had always been fascinating me as a child unwrapping its adventurous instincts in my small world, but a recent journey compelled me to write this post as a responsible citizen who ended up in disgust and anguish seeing no genuine reason left to make my children book train tickets for their next trip.
As we boarded the two tier coach of a super-fast express, I felt extremely sorry for the condition of this lifeline of transportation in our country. On pushing open the door, the immediate turn off was an unpleasant odour; it smelled as if a jar of pickle was let loose to spread patriotism to all the crevices of the bogey. If it was less, our seats welcomed us with a translucent plastic bag full of leftover eatables and disposed plates hanging at the hook atop the window seat. The gravy sort of slurry had gathered at one end of the polythene bag forming a balloon waiting to burst at the slightest jerk of the engine. We somehow settled, taking off the soiled sheets and called for the attendant who turned up after half an hour with a set of fresh ones to spread.
For my hygiene obsessed family the shabby surroundings were hugely disturbing. My husband being unable to bear the sight of the wastes hanging over our heads; carefully handling it, moved out to dispose it off. To his astonishment, the garbage bin was already overflowing and needed instant evacuation. As he was thinking way out to dump the waste, a rodent made its way from one end towards the other, passing over his shoe. I sighted a couple of roaches playing hide and seek in the folds of the stingy curtains, making those four hours of the journey dreadfully intolerant ones.
The upright stand in the middle of the seats was bloating with grease, which I hesitantly cleared using a few tissues. The latch to the sleeper berth was faulty, literally dropping the seat over my younger one twice before we shut it hard to hold itself. I had to purposely volunteer my cell phone to keep my children occupied so that they may not get a hint of the variety of species on board with us.
Had I not feared my bladder to burst, I would have never entered the toilet of this utterly grubby compartment, looking at the condition of its floor begrimed with bits of plastics, papers and empty wrappers. The nasty air of the washroom would surely give the top anesthetist a run for his job, I managed breathlessness or would have been in almost unconscious state.
While I was pitying the sorry state of the trains and the negligence to this crucial mode of locomotion by the government, I saw a team of four cleaners, clearing the mess; broom the floor, mop it well, deodorize and spray mosquito repellents under the seats. When inquired, they said this entire cleanup is repeated after every few hours, which made me hold my grudge and come to a clear conclusion that the deteriorating condition of trains is the menace created by passengers, people like me and you who are so dependable on the railways for their travels.
We make sure about our houses and cars to be sparkling clean, why can't we behave with the same sanity in public places and public transports. As a state gives right to its people to access and use its properties for their betterment, it does levy a responsibility on its citizens to maintain them properly.
''SWACHH BHARAT'' campaign by our Honorable prime minister would make sense only if the mind sets and habits of people are changed, otherwise once cleaned, in no time it will be mucky again due to the insensitivity of the rising population. May each one teach one to give shape to a better society, a better future.