DelhiOPINION

Rajdhani Express: Worst Travel In Recent Years

No announcements and no music! The bio washrooms were smelly and the space inside had been further reduced!

Rajdhani Express Worst Travel In Recent Years: After  long I was in for a journey by Rajdhani!  Not only it was to be eventful — it uncovered strange facts which would beat any fiction!
My colleague Ashok Dubey and yours’ truly were going Eastern UP and Bihar for presentations at various institutions! No tickets were available for our ‘dear’ PM’s constituency Varanasi – Benaras!! So we settled for Mughaserai via Ranchi Rajdhani and bought tickets through an agent!  Goes without saying he charged hefty sum and exhibiting lot of attitude! “You see confirmed reservation is such big hassle you see!” What followed was a complete reverse!
Rajdhani Express: Worst Travel In Recent Years Train 🚂 was leave at 4 pm!  Till 3-40pm railway enquiry 139 was not able to confirm the platform number or suggest that we should go to Paharganj or Ajmeri Gate!  Ashok had some idea and said it should start from 14!  And we decided on Ajmeri Gate!
It was 3-45 pm!  Coolie after asking for Rs 100 jacked up the price to see 10 kg of extra load of diaries and planners!  Half way through the frail frame uniformed porter handed over the luggage 💼 to a plainclothes man whose demands for paying more were quelled instantly!
Rajdhani Express: Worst Travel In Recent YearsLifts at New Delhi were a welcome sight!  So were rather not so crowded security machine on the first floor! That probably was the beginning of the trouble!  It had just been started and was full of dhool and mitti (dust)! We started with a suitcase 💼 and followed it up with the laptop!  The two fell with a thud on the other side with Ashok ‘s bigger suitcase in tow! The constable on duty at the machine was busy playing with her cell!  Her reaction on the three successive falls was was just an ooh! She jumped into action when Ashok decided to ask her as to what was she doing at machine with no stoppers at the other end!
While Ashok wanted to check the damage to my laptop I was keen on following the the porter moving at a brisk pace!
I had just paid the guy and when the train started moving!  I was in the fourth coach( A-4) from the engine!
A call to Ashok made me freeze in my pants 👖!  He was still with the lady constable arguing that laptop had not started and who should compensate for loss! In the train other than the two seat 💺 nos and the coach I had no other document to claim that it was my seat! TC however made no fuss once showed Aadhar card never  as he was told about the fiasco!
Ashok’s call when Rajdhani was just short of Ghaziabad station brought back some life into me!  He had got Rajdhani Express: Worst Travel In Recent Yearsreservation till Mughalserai in Patna Rajdhani! It would start at 5-15,  he informed! Again he had paid extra in this promised era of “Na khaonga Na khane doonga!”
Relieved I started noticing the  changes the new look coach had!  It was only then I realised that I was the only one in my two -tier AC cabin with no one on the single seats facing! Other realisation was that
bogie too had not been cleaned! I was all but laden with dust shining on my black trousers and matching jacket!  I looked for assistance to come to my aid,  which  did!  This was the first Rajdhani which was silent!  No announcements and no music! The bio washrooms were smelly and the space inside had been further reduced! Tea ☕ was awful and the dinner was worst this frequent traveler had in  recent years in any train! Half of the charging  points did not work in the coach that looked rather new and a matching jacket! I also noticed that space to place water bottles had been done away with!  This was the first Rajdhani that was silent!  No announcements no music 🎶! Tea ☕ was awful the food 🍲 was the worst this frequent traveller had in recent years!
Rajdhani Express: Worst Travel In Recent YearsTill Kanpur my bogie had 12 passengers and after first stop it increased to 19 – mind you check the bookings there you will find no room!
As I’m nearing Mughalserai I’m worried how I will carry five pieces to the waiting room where I would have to wait for Ashok to come!  Not much of sleep was possible in last two nights when I was in Chandigarh!  Today it was to be other long night without a wink!
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AVINASH SINGH

Prof Avinash Singh is a former Pro-Vice Chancellor, UTM, Shillong and was for long a Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times.

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