March 02, 2016

Why I have decided to dress up as an old fat granny the next time I board a train

Last weekend I was travelling from Mumbai to my home in Ahmedabad. I boarded the train from Bandra. I was in 2AC and had mostly elderly couples and families around me. Soon the train departed and all started settling down. There was this couple beside me that was going to Surat, which would arrive at one in the night. I could sense they were Gujarati’s due to their behavior and well, because I belong to the same clan. The aunty was complaining about the AC’s cooling and the uncle was lying down on the upper berth and had funky sports shoes on.

He got down from the upper berth stepping down from aunty’s berth, with the funky sport shoes on. I felt really bad for his wife (the aunty). I got ready to sleep and got in the blanket. The uncle came back, switched off the light and this time he used my berth to step up as he climbed up to the upper berth WITH HIS FUNKY SHOES ON! I felt like screaming, but all I could do was mentally picture picking him up and throwing him out of the moving train.

I remember when I was on my way to Darjeeling and passing by UP in a third sleeper coach, a bhayaji had offered me his jacket when he had seen me shivering due to cold. I had my jacket in my bag; though I had no idea it would get that cold, and had politely told him that I had a jacket. And some people feel bhaiyajis are rowdy!
I drifted off to sleep thinking that he would surely put his foot again on my berth at one as the train would halt at Surat.

I was woken up in a while by an old fat granny. I couldn’t process much of what she said as I was really sleepy, but I understood soon that she wanted me to sleep on her upper berth while she can take my lower one. She said she wasn’t able to climb up. I immediately got up and let her have my berth. One uncle came to drop me to her seat which was nearby only and even made my bed while showing his gratitude. There was a big family around and all showered their blessings on me – “Allah aapki madad kare”, “Aapko dua mile”. I said its fine and climbed up to sleep. However, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. There was a kid in the family and he kept screaming. The aunties kept asking each other – “kya kisi ko dikat hai?” – making sure all of them were comfortable. This was almost like two and a half hours after the train had departed and everyone was asleep expect for this family. My bad luck that I was transferred to that very compartment.  A fat woman who called two of her relatives in another compartment to tell my story – of how I helped the old lady, and spoke for about 20 mins - grabbed the kid and pulled him on her berth. She quieted him and put him to sleep. I was relieved when she opened her phone and started playing Temple Run! With the sound on!!

Honestly, I succumbed to self pity. I felt worse than the old woman would have when she wasn’t able to climb up the berth – as at least she wasn’t stuck there. I am young – I can climb up the berth but can’t sleep near the door of the train, can I? I must help elders, but no one would care if I get sleep or not, do they? Elders can complain if they can’t sleep due to noise, but if you are young you need to adjust, right?

If I complain they might say, “She is so young and still has so much trouble sleeping.” How would common (and insensitive) people know what all goes on in an uncommon mind? I don’t need proper place to sleep – I need peace and quiet. Most of the people don’t give a damn for your sleep. I am one of the very few ones who care for others sleep and keep my volume and noise down. Hence, I have decided to dress up as an old fat granny the next time I board a train. Not to sleep on the lower berth. But to lie and act as if I can’t sleep on the upper berth and swap my place for another, quieter one – only to get my sleep. 


  1. I go through such similar things each time i travel by a train. EACH TIME.
    This is so true.

  2. Inner peace is the only thing that will let you live in comfort regardless of the bells and toils of your surroundings. If it were not a fat old granny, it would have been a crying child, a tea vendor earning his/her meal of the day, or the shock of a passing by train (I still think that they trains are just inches away from each other).
    We are taught to not question elders, not to ignore crying kids, to be kind to the poor, and to hum to the sound of the train when being put to bed.