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August 30, 2008

Train ko saaf rakho.

Filed under: India, Indian railways, social change, travel — neosurya @ 11:34

I am visiting Warangal this weekend. Will spend a few days with family and return on the morning of 4th.

Public transport in India is very evolved, and is probably the most affordable mode of transport the world over. It may not have a lot of fancy bells and whistles, but it does the job. I left Bangalore by volvo at around 8:00 PM Friday and got to Hyderabad at around 9:00 AM. Jyostna and I travelled from Hyderabad to Warangal by the satavahanam. I and Jyostna boarded the train at 3:30. We had reservations; our seats were 136 (aisle) and 137 (middle). Josu sat at the aisle seat, I adjusted myself in the center, and then there was one Mr Raju, a person in his late 40s at the window.

There were these kids with their mom and an elderly person who could have been their grandfather, or someone similar. There was an entourage of 3-4 men in their early 30s to 40s accompanying this family. There was a very stylish dude in the entourage wearing a body hugging off-white tee with “57” written in “chocolate brown color cloth”, and “USA” on the back. Tight jeans, large dark glasses that were desperately trying to go from the 70s to the 80s. He was talking about the “East Coast” like he owned the place. They bought ice-cream. The vendor asked “How many”. Stylebhai says, “enni vunnayi, ivvu boss, andariki”. Vendor obliges; stylebhai takes each cup, opens the lid, puts a spoon in it, and gives one to each family member. The last family member refuses icecream. “ido, ii ice-cream vaddu”. Vendor: “Open chesaaru kada sir”. Stylebhai uses harsh language, cribs a lot about the icecream not being good etc, but it kinda fizzles out and he pays up. The youngest kid collects the empty cups from them and throws it out of the window. The train left promptly at 4:15, the right time.

I and Jyostna contemplate over events of the past few minutes. I lean over to the kid and tell him in the most calm and nice way “child, you threw those cups out of the door. It is not the right thing to do, we should not make our trains dirty, railways has provided a dustbin; we should throw it there”. Many passengers around us heard me, the mother chideed the kid. A few minutes later Josu and I start eating an orange. We peel it into a plastic cover. This young couple in front of us order coffee. Coffee done, the dude is throwing the cup into the usual place – the train window. I catch his hand, take the cup from him, put it in our plastic cover. “That is OK, if it is not easy for you, I will throw it in the dustbin”. The dude is totally embarrased, takes the cup back from us and does the obvious. Unfortunately, I have to do the same thing again to one another individual who just finished eating his dinner, had dumped his food tray on the tracks, and was ready to throw a paper out. He has an explanation: “It is only a small piece of paper”; his age: probably 45-50.

Mr. Raju then got up, he just had a coffee. He crossed all of us, went to the dust bin, and came back. The uncle who was with the kids dropped a banana peel on the floor. He lifted it with care, and the kids used the dust bin. I do not know if they will continue to be clean in their other journeys.



  1. That was quite a story. I am sure the incident will remain in the minds of the people who traveled with you in the train compartment, and will make them think twice before they throw litter again. You have set an example. As a wise person once said “Examples are the most powerful sources of learning”.

    Comment by Kay — September 7, 2008 @ 15:58

  2. In this scene i kind of hesistated and tried to stop Surya to say anything to those kids or infact anyone in the compartment.But Surya put it so nicely to everyone so that the message went through and people obeyed the law…now i feel Iam glad he told… 🙂 I felt ” bolne se kyaa faida , koun sunega….they take it as an offense” .

    Comment by Jyostna — September 8, 2008 @ 11:50

  3. That’s very true – whether the message goes through or not would depend on how it is put across.

    Comment by Kay — September 8, 2008 @ 14:25

  4. Good job, mate. Glad that people followed your suggestion. I have had more than one run-in (Well, yours wasn’t quite a dispute) in the train, mostly for the reasons of smoking and ill-treatment of one child vendor.

    Btw, we have always had to carry our dust in a plastic bag we carry with us. Where did you find the dustbin in the train? Was it an AC coach?

    Comment by pulzinponderland — September 13, 2008 @ 07:30

  5. Pulzin… This was a normal compartment. Seatign coach. Railways is becoming better now, and if they do not have a dustbin, you should complain at the destination station.

    Comment by Life Earth — September 15, 2008 @ 09:44

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