The Indian Railways never cease to amaze! God old Lallu may have done his bit in the past to enhance services but…Yes, there’s always a but and a big one at that! Take the AC two tier for instance. On a recent trip to Kerala, I was unfortunate enough to get the side berth. As I settled down with my book, looking forward to an enjoyable and relaxed read curled up under the blanket, I realised that the reading light is not positioned behind but on the side. Which idiot designed that?!? In order to read, you have to lie on your right side, slide down the berth and manoeuvre yourself into a position where the light falls on the book (which means that your legs have to be curled up since there is no space) and then, with yourself curled awkwardly into a ball, stay in that uncomfortable position and read. If you move, the book is plunged into darkness; if you stay in that position for too long you end up with a crick in your neck. It’s a Hobson’s choice. After five minutes of absolute discomfort, I gave up on reading and decided to sleep. I drew the curtains and thought I’d snuggle in for a peaceful sleep. Next surprise. The curtain rod ends a couple of inches before the berth on either side so when I lay down to sleep, the night light shone with its disturbingly eerie glow, right onto my face. Which joker dreamed up these plans to enhance a traveller’s comfort? And the huge picture windows, through which one can look out and enjoy the scenery, were all fogged up. So come morning, and one waits in anticipation of soaking in the view of Kerala’s emerald-hued landscape. Alas! That was not to be. Thanks to the filthy windows, one could catch glimpses of the beauty of the landscape but looking out too often only gave me a headache thanks to the strain of peering and peeping!
On the way back, I was in the AC three tier. The coaches were painted a depressing and yucky yellow with equally dismal brown berths. Talk about downers…this was the ultimate. And the windowsills were painted some bilious shade, which was a mix of an awful pink with yellow. To make matters worse, I was stuck in the last seat right next to the door so I suffered the constant banging of the door which can be quite shattering on the nerves! And, since no one has thought of considerately putting a curtain on the door, light shines in from the passage outside. Anyway, the reading I had looked forward to materialised this time thanks to the bright light shining in from outside, I couldn’t sleep…and well, I had no choice but to read!