Vignettes from the City Station

…..

Went to drop off my brother in law at the station…the train was at 11.45pm. The station was so beautifully lit up; we realized it was for 25 years of Bangalore Division of SW Railways, on the 27th of July.

The station was also amazingly clean, and the enquiry area has been spruced up so much…concourses seem well designed to take the crowds, and announcements were both visually and audibly clear.

Of course the lack of a lift to the subway  to the other platforms is still a major problem for anyone with a physical handicap, but at least there is a ramp up to the station from the space outside.

Got into the train and found a young man sitting in the darkened bogey, in front of his open laptop, which showed a picture– of himself standing in front of the train.

Saw the hardworking coolies and the platform stall people…they work all hours for not much pay, I think. Noticed the shiny new metal chairs which reflect the garish colours of the ads and the lights.

Had a piping hot cup of incredibly cheap chai from the stall, and felt the lazy wind a little less. (The Scots call  a chill wind  a lazy wind because it can’t be bothered to go around you…it goes through you!)

For the first time, stood by and watched two bogeys being connected, with one man on the wireless guiding the train driver to slowly bring the two carriages together, and then another intrepid railway worker getting down to connect the vacuum hoses which make a scary “HOOOSH” noise. When the bumpers touched, it looked like the carriages were joining hands. When he realized I was interested, the railway worker asked that some space be cleared for me to watch! How lovely it is to have time to “stand and stare”….

Found the Railway police watching the crowd with sharp, intent, practised eyes, as the mob jostled to get into the unreserved compartments. Speculated on how difficult it would be to be a pickpocket and earn a living that way, with a merciless beating the reward of even a slight mistake. And after the beating and the police station and the bribe and the escape, to go back to doing exactly the same thing…..

There is something desolate and melancholy about a railway station at night. Those who are leaving have left; those who are arriving have come and gone to their destinations; the day’s work is done, the dance of commerce and travel is over for the day. The platforms stretch into the distance, awaiting the next day’s bustle.

Saw the porters also gathering together, some were laughing and lighting up beedies, some were morose, as they had probably not made enough money that day.

Nobody asked us for our platform tickets. The parking lot attendants were also preparing to wind up business…there are so many urchins hanging around, it’s heart-wrenching to see them. None of them came up to beg. Beggary has certainly come down at the station.

Overall…a very positive change at City Station. Long may it last.

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