Millenials are probably the last generation that attaches a sentiment to trains and why should they not, for there is no journey like a train journey. I remember as a kid, I would plan for days for things I would do once I am on the train and the foods I'd eat and the books I'd read. I was also particularly curious about the people I'd get to meet. The journey itself might be long and tedious but it is always the people who make it worth the ride. Let's get into the kind of people we most likely encounter.
1. Many many many kids!
This is a staple in each bogey. The typical scenario involves a couple that would keep fidgeting with their child to pass time, who is, in all likeliness, brimming with enthusiasm. Just a heads-up, these kids are generally very restless and have a certain aversion to eating.
I know this is an unpopular opinion but I don't like kids. Sometimes they seem like the bane of my existence and I'd always, and I mean always, be seated with them when I'm travelling alone. I don't know what still keeps me excited about travelling alone.
You cannot escape families on a train journey and mind you, they're one loud lot. These are the people who plan their meals and pack them beforehand and always come with snacks.
Just a month ago, I was travelling with one such family and I don't think I've felt this intimidated by a group in all of my life. The family was engrossed in their own conversations and this incessant chatter made trip a horrific one.
2. Uncles travelling solo
You will certainly come across an uncle or two who have minimal luggage and are travelling alone. Generally they travel in pairs but it's not always the case. Whatever they talk about always seems 'deep' to the onlooker. A peculiar quality of these uncles is to get into political debates with some members of the above two categories.
It is such a common experience to find these extremely politically-charged uncles who have some very peculiar yet stringent views about politics get into almost fistfights in trains. It is quite a sight to watch adults let go of their propriety and get hands-on with each other. Both a fun and a sore sight, really!
4) The I'm-too-cool-for-you youngster
Many of us probably fall into his category. We mostly travel alone and don't come across as too friendly. We always have our earplugs or headphones on, we carry our laptops for movies and occasionally, read too. All of these happen consecutively. Our phones are always out of charge and we tip the train people more than all of the categories above.
Here I am, your perfect example of the aforementioned category! I don't know about others but I have this constant itch to be occupied with something or the other (especially if there are people around you who make it evident that they're observing you). So my routine is very simple yet systematic: I start by watching a movie until the phone is out of charge, then I start to read; since the trains have very low electricity in the plug points, it takes forever to charge the phones (and if you're not keeping an eye, chances are that someone has already removed your phone!) and at night, I have the laptop since the lights are out.
5. Pervy gents
Not trying to stereotype here but this category does exist. There would always be some man or the other who gives you the wrong vibe. Who is always staring at someone in a way that makes them squirm in their seats and would take all possible chances to start a conversation with you. And mind you, these people don't back off easy. All people you meet in trains, broadly fall under these categories in one way or another. Despite all that might seen negative, a train journey is also the time you're getting to spend with yourself before you arrive at your destination and these moments are precious.
As a young solo traveller, I feel like I have to constantly have a tough exterior. I mean that I have to go out of my way to appear rude and unfriendly just so that I don't seem like a perfectly jovial, friendly human. Because when that happens, you find people who enter your personal space and try to cling on to you in a very, very uncomfortable way. I have had people sitting on my seat and making me extremely squeamish because I was too scared to tell them to leave. Don't be that version of me, peeps! It's important to speak up for yourself and call them out.
Train journeys are such an important part of an Indian's life. Like I had mentioned earlier, it is probably the millennial who feel so strongly about the train journeys as flying was still a new concept to the middle classes. You'd think that with air travel becoming such a booming industry, trains would become obsolete. That, is hardly the case. The people who travel in trains have changed, surely, but trains still hold the same nostalgia as they had all those years ago. And I strongly urge you all to relive that feeling once in a while.
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