Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Great Indian Train Journey!

Though triggered by a family emergency back home, a recent trip to Trivandrum was a pleasantly memorable one. While we were in Trivandrum, got a chance to take the kid to some of the places that we sorely lack in Bangalore; like the Beach, a good Zoo (I agree, Banneraghata National Park fills that gap) et al. Meeting with our acquaintances, relatives and friends, we command in hordes in our home town was something of a revelation for the kid.

Onward journey, being an emergency one was by air and the Kingfisher flight was a smooth one though at a huge damage to the wallet. Four of us, three adults and one child (2.5 years), made the wallet poorer by 19K rupees for a 1.5 hour flight! The good old days of 'any one can fly' is HISTORY! For what one could fly last year, can not even get to the airport today!!! A Meru drive to the new International Airport from Sarjapur Road gave another Rs.900/- kick to the wallet.

So we were determined to make the return trip a Laloo affair and were lucky enough to get a Tatkal ticket from CAPE (Kanyakumari) to KJM (Krishnarajapuram) with boarding at TVC (Trivandrum Central). Un-like earlier days, it looks like Tatkal today needs to necessarily include either the Starting (From) or the Ending (To) points of the train route in one's itinerary, so had to book it from CAPE. But boarding point is allowed anywhere in between. [that sets me thinking ..., could I have taken the ticket from TVC to SBC in that case, may be that would have been a better choice; something to try out next time].

I am not able to comprehend the logic behind [having to include one of the end-points of the route for ticket booking but allowing an interim point for boarding] this restriction, but have now a fair idea how Laloo is turning Indian Railways profitable. I like India Shining, Kingfisher Airlines breaking even, Indian Railways making money and every thing else in that genre. My only grouse is that all that seems to be at a huge cost to me, if not at my cost!

And the train journey was made memorable by the presence of the crew of the popular Asianet musical reality show, Idea Star Singer, as our co-passengers. Interactions with them provided some entertainment and my daughter and wife had their fair share of chit chats and photo sessions with last year's winner Najim and a crowd favorite, Sannidanandan and the crew. The whole team was very friendly and provided great company for the trip.

Railways definitely seems to provide opportunities to interact with fellow-passengers in ways more meaningful than any other mode of transport (may be ship provides too, but I am to yet go there) and it is brings in a lot of richness to some trips at least. It is another of those human inventions that may never go out of use. Let me add this to my existing list, where Radio was getting bored sitting lonely.