Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Great Indian Exodus - II

All modes of transport are booked to their seams but the excitement of a vacation lightens any discomfort of an over crowded train or bus or even a cramped cattle class flight.

The Indian Railways provide the wheels to this great temporary sub-continental migration. Over the years the railways have perfected the art of clearing this summer rush.

Preparations for the vacations begin sixty to ninety days prior to the date of journey. It is a mad scramble for tickets. In my childhood, we would have to wait in long queues (separate queues for each destination) filling out reservation forms and wait for our turn to reach the booking window at Mumbai VT or at Churchgate. This demi-god behind the grilled window would determine when and how we could begin the journey. A simple “Not Available” would dash many a hope… With the advent of computers, air conditioners made an entry and one could take the benefit of standing in any queue. Internet has further simplified this process and one has the added advantage of home delivery of tickets.

Ah those days – they have been lost in some obscure pages of history. I wonder if any one misses those days. We seem to have quickly adopted new technologies as fish to water.

Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Garib Raths are the obvious choices and tickets are snapped up in a few minutes, but any train is ok if tickets are not available.

Every summer hundreds of “Summer Specials” are announced to manage this great surge of humanity. Trains, packed to capacity, begin their long journeys disgorging man-bag-baggage at various stations on the way. The heat and poor comfort seem hardly a bother. I wonder what is that that make people endure this discomfort and still retain child like excitement about the whole journey.

Buses do their bit too and we have the State Road Transport Corporations, popularly known as ST buses with their Regular, Deluxe, Fast Deluxe, Semi-Luxury, Luxury and now A/c-Volvo too. Matching ST buses we have innumerable private offerings where ticket rates can be negotiated before boarding the bus. I think Volvo buses seem to be top favourites and who can forget the sleeper buses.

The return journeys see distinctly lower levels of energy and excitement. After all end of vacations are in sight and it is back to the grind. The very thought of school or office is enough to get a frown on many faces. But such is life and the great mass of people make their way back home to their regular routine having taken, perhaps, a well deserved rest.
Apart from family bonding and a refreshing change, the Indian tourist is also oiling the wheels of commerce within the country. Domestic tourism is a big contributor to employment and is a great economic benefit. With better facilities being made available and greater inclination to hit off beat trails, we take great pleasure in re-discovering Incredible India!

1 comment:

Lapa said...

nice indian blog.