Sunday, March 7, 2010

Not A Coach for Disabled - 2

When the train stopped at Thiruchi, I heard a strong beat on the window and found it was a guard. There were 3, 4 persons around him. I decided and opened the door and the guard never came in. Instead, he asked a guy to get in and said, “namakku therinja paiyan thaan... thirunelvElila eRangeeduvAru... kadhavai sAththikkunga.. yAr thattinAlum thoRakka vENAm...”

The guy entered, spread some newspaper and slept. As he came in, my conversation with the woman who was in front of me came to an end. She was the escort for her daughter who can’t talk and hear. Two decades ago, she was in love a conductor and married him against the wish of both the families. She belonged to the Nadar community and the man was a Kumbakonam Iyer. Her daughter is 23 years old now and she is yet complete plus two, as she had to discontinue her studies due to wedding bells. A businessman, aged 42 is her beloved hubby who just ignored her handicap and had the mettle to read her mind. Well, but your being in a state of knowing everything but can’t speak your mind is difficult, especially when you are educated.

Education elevates your life but, it keeps you sensitive and also makes you feel more, what you can’t do, what your limits are, what is the difference between the incoming and outgoing etc. Ignorance is a blessing if you are surrounded by unchangeable Faux Pau.

I played for Kundrakkudi M.Balamralikrishna(vocal) and for Anand (violin solo). The stay was one of the best as Shri Krishnamurthy and Smt. Savithri showered a great care and hospitality with delicious food.

AthukkAl bhagavathi’s pongal fest delayed the arrival of ananthapuri express by 50 minutes on our way back. This time, the coach for disabled was a bit neater. A bank officer and his friend joined me up to thirunelveli. Iruttu kadai halwa costs Rs.120 per kg. The halwas sold near railway station are not original. Shanthi Sweets sells it for 80 rupees and it costs 100 Per kg in a nearby shop. The mixture sold at shanthi is famous and you may have to wait in queue to for 20minutes to buy it.

Nallakannu an advocate boarded at valliyur, with his escort and I heard many stories about missionaries converting many people in south Tamil Nadu. They target the Hindu families which have disabled members and say, the cause for disability is being Hindu and the remedy is to “hug” Christianity! Conversions cannot be stopped. There was a speech going on, at vadiveeswaram just before my concert by the Brahma Kumaris association. A man aged around 55, who came down from the stage, reached me and said, “sahOdharA... nAn kaduvaLaip pArththirukiREn... neengaL kANa vENdAmA.. mavunt abuviRku vArungaLEn oru  muRai... illAvittAlum, neengaL vasikkm paguthiku arugilEyE, engaL iyakkaththil sEralAmE” {brother, i have seen god... you should see HIM too.. come to mount abu once... or, you can visit any arya samaj nearby your place... welcome..]

Even if all the humans, animals and the rest were transformed to one religion, intersects will try to convert or compel the other to come to their “world!”

Then the day light match commenced with a real bang by one man claiming he is handicapped and we asked him to show the ticket and asked him where his escort is. His eyes turned red and he threatened us to open immediate or he would not be responsible for whatever may happen if he becomes angry and added “open the door.. you have space here...” We declined.

A crowd of twelve (normal people who turned abnormal) knocked like hell in the following station. This time, there were more warriors, I  think, as we got titles, surnames and citations in “chaste-thamizh” for free of cost and just like the rhyming words they used, many of them took oath to kill us at egmore railway station. One man with his friend came closer to the window and screamed he is handicapped and wishes to enter. The train tore the dark into pieces with its horn before we could do anything for him and he managed to run to the unreserved coach and joined us in the next station.

Two more persons got into our place showing the tickets reserved under concession for disabled and we slept. The superfast-6124 tried to be faster in a view to adjust the time delay.

When I heard someone rocking the glass door above my head, the train was in Madurai. I, woke up one man and asked him to open quickly as I saw a visually impaired lady near my window, crying and asking to open the door. She would have travelled more and encountered many cruel hearts.  Before that man could reach the door, there appeared an RPF guy with a walky-talky and started calling the names and shouted he would imprison the man. But, there was no delay at all. The responsible constable vanished from the scene, the moment we open! Constable who gone instable!!

As a consequence, the lady and her group of 6 people, all visually impaired couldn’t swim against the tide of many people who entered forcibly into the compartment. At last, they managed to get in and sat between the two lower berths. It was pathetic to witness such a situation. Everyone looked tired like anything, that too at 1AM in the night, with their eyes begging to sleep and body strives to shed on the floor. They are just people from the lowest layer of the society and seemed toy sellers travelling to various places. The toys just kept in open cloth bags and many took them in their hands to see what it was and kept it back, without the knowledge of the sellers.

I was keeping a dhinakaran daily under my legs to avoid the dust and dirty floor whenever I sit, but they lied there, keeping their faces closer to THAT floor. One man, who was lean and youngest of them, went under my seat and slept THERE for want of space. A family with two men, three women and a kid tossed a loathsome look on them and murmured their dissatisfaction that these blind people occupied more space. They also voiced in high decibel that, “when people are suffering to even sit properly, why the hell these people lie here...?” Naadimuthu, one of the sellers, replied in a strong tone, “hey.. Don’t shout unnecessarily... this is a coach for disabled... we have the right to be here... if you feel any discomfort, go to hell...” He knew that there were many people and aired his voice without knowing who deserves his reply. That is where the person doesn’t exist and just the question takes the role of a man. If you can see, you will weigh the man passing comments on you, for sure before you react to it. But, naadimuthu can only feel the pulse of the voices...

If 20 guys encroach like this, how can a disabled person reach the rest room? Okay, they are destined to be suffering like this. If anyone of the normal persons go there and return with wet legs, making his foot marks near the faces that sleep there, is it a matter of pride? Is there anything that can do damage to one’s self esteem than this?

They all got down at chengalpet. Now we saw a tribe of shameless office goers trespassing into our compartment and they never hesitate to keep their things anywhere and sit anywhere they like. The lady sleeping in the opposite seat opened her eyes to look at the ass of a man and two more men near her legs. They all had Times of India or Deccan Chronicle, the low cost dailies and sat all over. Even the hand rail gave room to 5, 6 six men. There were two disabled persons among this herd. One was in a corner of the seat and a lady who works in Chennai was successful in negotiating a place near my legs. They were discussing many things loudly where I needed to say 30, 40 ‘excuse me’s to find my way to toilet. And, it takes time, as everyone is keen to scan me and find in what way I am disabled and then only they move.

Dear useless HR for railways, you appoint three guys to take care of the passengers in AC Coach. Two do the bed and one supervises it. They act as bell boys too. Most of the times, they just stay drunk and I have avoided calling them and asking them anything as they spread the smell of rotten fruits in an air conditioned coach. It is a stink for non-alcoholics and it stimulates the one likes it. It is awful and unhealthy both ways, to and fro!

If your so called majesty can employ three guys like this with central government salary, can’t you keep a helper in the coach for disabled who can check the tickets and let real handicap in? The coach for disabled is always at the end or the one next to engine. If we have to buy something to refresh or eat or if we need any medical assistance, wouldn’t it be helpful, if this kind of coach is placed in the middle? It is a shame that the railways keep a coach like this and ask us to travel with “escort.”

The coach that you gift us on compassionate grounds, grounds the disabled not on the platform but on the land many times, since the coach is at the tail end. The vendors too never come there as they have to cross the closed windows of the AC coaches and you can’t expect them to incur loss. The pantry corner fellows are stopped too, as the vestibule ends with sleeper coaches itself.

I have sishyas, friends or someone else; what the ordinary men have? If there is no escort, we can’t even get the concession at all!  Why someone could not see me off here and someone can receive me at the other end and the railway takes care of me during travel?

If your man guards the door properly, will the floors be this much abominable? If limited number of passengers unlike, an invading crowd, uses the rest room wouldn’t it be cleaner? Instead of this two disabled and two escorts getting a reservation and travel inside this all time knocked useless locked doors, if you provide 8 sleepers and 4 chairs with a single guy for assistance (without escorts occupying half of it), wouldn’t that open new avenues for more number of handicapped persons to have a real “Happy Journey ?”

The last issue of junior vikatan says that the railways held a competition and run model trains with an engine and 9 compartments and it was heartening to see how enthusiastically the employers took part in it. Also there were some valuable suggestions like fixing brail numbers for enabling the blind to find their seat number in the coach for disabled!

This is not all a coach for disabled and instead you PREACH & COACH DISABILITY to all of us.

Naadimuthu, holding the bag and resting his head on his hand unable to sleep...


  1. Nagaraj ur poem about the roja pookal fasinating..Felt I had seen the Bharathi poonais and the roojakal..
    I wish wish and wish that the Government can do something substantial that is also useful for the disabled..I am amazed at your impersonal account of the Nagerkoil journey that is at once personal too..That is you are almost just a witness in your account..No mention about your personal discomfort..
    All policies regarding Disabled should have a committee of disabled so they can make useful decisions..How vital is your suggestion that they could have one railway employee dedicated to the compartment..But knowing our guys that may not be the solution..What if escorts are not allowed and there is an emergency..
    My suggestion is that you should write to some young bureaucrat like Rahul Ghandhi who may look at it from a different perspective..Will u give it a shot..May be you can find out how to reach him through some one close to Kanimozhi..
    fine see u soon, today I plan to learn Tarama Nee amhima of St Thyagarajar..

  2. Erode NAgarAj
    This writeup is almost reality in railways. The biggest problem is because of shortage of trains .IN the last 30 years there has been only 10% increase in trains.
    If ever they have two tracks from madras to trinelveli , we can have 5 trains from trinelveli to chennai. Who needs 2 lane expressway that chokes the roads when an extra pair of trains helps and solves the problem.

  3. @ gv: nice to have your valuable suggestions
    @ rn: even if 10 run between ends, it would be the
    same. it is some attitude problem of the
    authorities and ignorant or ignoring public

  4. It goes on to show the old axiom that literacy does not mean education ! Sadly our education system does not sensitize us to proper behaiur towards not only the differently abled but even the old, infirm, children and ladies. A sad commentry on the state of our society.

  5. //If ever they have two tracks from madras to trinelveli , we can have 5 trains from trinelveli to chennai. Who needs 2 lane expressway that chokes the roads when an extra pair of trains helps and solves the problem//

    It is said that, some private bus companies' Jacks r the black-sheep against this plan of increasing the number of railway tracks to the south.

    //All policies regarding Disabled should have a committee of disabled so they can make useful decisions//

    I 100% agree to this.

  6. i was googling about chattambi swami and vadaweeswaram and came acrooss yr blog. excellent.since morning reading one by one. iam thankful to my stars for such a good read. god bless you

  7. How sweet! Thank you for your wishes. Please, go through the rest of the posts and share your valuable comments.