BREAKING NEWS INTO PIECES

A short journey on the Shramik Special

When a Mumbai train bound for Chhapra in the North ends up in Bengaluru in the South or a train set on a journey to Gorakhpur reaches Rourkela in Odisha, who has lost the way?

 |  BREAKING NEWS INTO PIECES  |  2-minute read |   26-05-2020
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"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware." When philosopher Martin Buber said this, was he aware of this becoming the motto of Indian Railways in Covid-19 times?

Train journeys are unlike others in India because you get to meet new people, make new friends, and share food, gossip, and stories. This story shows it’s not always true. You hit a wall sometimes. A reticent Haryanvi tau, notorious for not encouraging teenagers to talk, was faced with a teenager who wanted to strike a conversation because the journey was long and they were seated in facing berths.

main_shramik-special_052620065048.jpgThe trains do not fail. System does. The system has failed. (Photo: PTI)

“Where are you headed to, uncle?”

“Where can I be heading? If I am in this train, I am going where the train is,” he said.

“So where is the train going?”

“Where the tracks go. Train doesn’t leave the tracks.”

Not ready to give up, the teenager took another chance.

“So where do the tracks go?”

“Well, you bawli behind, tracks don’t go anywhere. They are stuck to the ground.”

Yes, you have heard this one or a variation of it. The tracks don’t go anywhere. Trains go where the tracks go and the driver has no say. The man operating the levers at junctions does. Bus service. Rail system. The driver can’t decide the destination. The driver can only start, run, stop. So when a Mumbai train bound for Chhapra in the North ends up in Bengaluru in the South or a train set on a journey to Gorakhpur reaches Rourkela in Odisha, who has lost the way? Ask the tau, he would say: the trains do not fail. System does. The system has failed.

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Writer

Kamlesh Singh Kamlesh Singh @kamleshksingh

Journalism student. Ed honcho at the India Today Group Mediaplex. God's Loyal Opposition. Useful Warning: Tweets may hurt religious sentiments.

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