Quality makes difference. In a regular long distance train in second sitting coach you can reach Ahmedabad from Mumbai in less than 200 Rs. while in AC chair car Shatabdi it would cost you 675 Rs. But you should have this experience once to understand how quality makes difference. I had to travel by Shatabdi a few days back and I started having a pleasure as soon as I boarded the train from Borivali. May be the train had recently got the new coaches. The new coach in which I got in had an airplane like look and feel. The wide thick glass window, transparent thick plastic or acrylic made overhead stand to keep your luggage, the pullable curtains, the lamps above your seat for use in dark or at night, the toilets, the door, the seats in 2s and 3s and the passage between them all the things were classy and would make you feel as if you are travelling in an airplane. Infact the speed of this train is also faster and it takes only 6 hrs to reach Ahmedabad while other regular trains take 9 hrs for the same journey.
It was early morning when I boarded the Shatabdi express and I could enjoy beautiful sun rise view near Vasai-Naaigaon creek. It was a marvellous experience to enjoy this sight from the thick glass-window seat of an AC coach of Shatabdi. Moreover we were served tea-coffee at this time only and the train slowed down so I perfectly enjoyed sun rise experience holding tea cup in one hand and newspaper in the other! I had hardly finished tea and the breakfast of Upma with coconut chuttney and bread slices with Jam & butter was served. My fellow passenger was a young guy from Mumbai with whom I enjoyed having discussion on varied topics from Pakistan to politics and movies to our school lives! He narrated an interesting activity from his school life. He had done his schooling in Rajasthan and every day in his school a student had to tell a small story in front of all fellow students. This not only gave students an opportunity to hear very good stories every day and thereby learn good lessons of goof life but also gave them a platform to speak thereby honing their oratory skills and boost their self-confidence. I feel every school shall follow this process. (Teachers or principals of any school reading this blog please try it out in your school!)
Chocolates and tetra pack of fruit juice served kept us refreshed while we were having interesting conversation. After some time my fellow passenger friend went to sleep and I started reading a short story book I was carrying. I overheard the conversation between an old lady and an old gentleman sitting right behind us. She was discussing traits of Gujarati community in general and was saying that she had studied in a Gujarati medium school. The thing that surprised me was that she was saying all these things in fluent English! She also informed the old gentleman that she liked reading good Gujarati literature books in her free time. I was impressed by this lady and introduced myself to her and gave her to read the book written by me for her feedback and review. I was carrying it because third edition of my books is being published soon and I had to finish proof-reading. She read some pages of the book and liked it. She also immediately recognized my father even though I have not mentioned anywhere in the book about he being a famous actor. She recognized him from my full name printed as author in the book and asked me about our gujarati folk drama-art Bhavai and discussed about it with the old gentleman sitting beside her.
Bread sticks with butter and tasty tomato soup came next immediately followed by not very delicious but ok-ok lunch and I ate so slowly that I missed ice-cream!
It was a very pleasing journey which ended with some responsible thoughts about two observations I made during this journey which I wanted to share with some railway authority also but which I could not as I didn't meet any of them after these thoughts occurred to me. One was about the water bottles. Every passenger travelling by Shatabdi is given a mineral water bottle which is already kept at his seat.70 passengers per coach in total 12 to 15 coaches (I didn't exactly count how many were there so it could be even more also) makes the count of bottles to around 840 to more than thousand! Now I noticed that more than half of these bottles were only half used and kept at the vacant seats when passengers left the train. If this water is not reused then it would be surely a significant loss. So I would request any concerned railway authority reading this blog or anybody who can make this message reach the right authority please do convey it to reuse this unused water and not waste it. Second observation I made was about the huge use of electricity in lighting more than 30 tubelights in my one coach only (please do the calculation for all the coaches of the train yourself now!) in bright day light. Since the time I got into the train till the instant I got down for more than six hours all these tubelights were switched on and there was no need of doing so when the sunlight entered through the thick glass and nobody had used curtains to stop it from illuminating the coach naturally. Even if alternate or a few tubelights are kept switched on during day time, it would save substantial amount of electricity/power. We all have to be responsible citizens now in order to survive on our mother earth before there is scarcity of the valuable resources like water and electricity. Spread the message and act now to save water and electricity!