Sunday, December 28, 2008

Now Playing On My Jukebox

Me and Mrs Jones

I had earlier posted a song by Michael Buble - the Spiderman theme song. I loved that one and this one is great too. It was originally sung by Billy Paul, that too in the year 1972. Just goes to show that good music never dies. Michael Buble has included this in his album 'Call Me Irresponsible'. Take it away folks....

Me and Mrs Jones, we got a thing going on
We both know that it's wrong
But it's much too strong to let it go now

We meet ev'ry day at the same cafe
Six-thirty I know she'll be there
Holding hands, making all kinds of plans
While the jukebox plays our favorite song

Me and Mrs, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones
We got a thing going on
We both know that it's wrong
But it's much too strong to let it go now

We gotta be extra careful
That we don't build our hopes too high
Cause she's got her own obligations and so do I
Me, me and Mrs, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones

Well, it's time for us to be leaving
And it hurts so much, it hurts so much inside
And now she'll go her way, I'll go mine
But tomorrow we'll meet at the same place, the same time
Me and Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Living it up in the Garib Rath

Getting tickets to Kerala during the Xmas season is a pain. Whenever I try to book tickets, I am reminded of the lemmings’ story. Normally I take the Island Express (Bangalorey to Kanyakumari). Course we didn’t get tickets but while searching I discovered a train called Kochuveli Garib Rath. Garib Rath sounded a bit scary and I was more worried because my eldest sister, Lisa was traveling with us and she is an NRI. Since there was no choice, I took the tickets.

Now this train starts from Yeshwantpur station which is a bit off the beaten track. We got out a bit late but reached the station with some palpitations. The station was really crowded and the first thought that struck me was that “All the garibs of the world have come to travel in this train". I then realised that none of the electronic display boards (that display the coach placement) were working and everyone was standing at the entrance waiting for some direction. After a few minutes, there was an announcement (garbled as usual) that the train was to depart at 10.30 pm instead of the scheduled time of 9.00 pm. Most of the passengers let out exasperated sighs and then went about looking for tea, food etc as our platform was spectacularly devoid of any amenities.

At this juncture let me explain what the Garib Rath train is. It is a fast fully air-conditioned train subsidized for poor people. All the State capitals are or will be linked with Garib Rath trains.

The train pulled in at about 10.00 pm. I was surprised to see that the train was extremely clean and well lit. The coaches were new and seemed more spacious. Even the toilets were spick and span. Anyway, the train pulled out at 10.30 pm as promised. We were sitting around chatting and the other passengers slowly started getting ready to sleep. The funny thing was that nobody was asking for the customary blankets that are handed out. Uncomplainingly, they took out their own sheets and quietly went to sleep. After the next stop - Banaswadi, we saw an attendant handing two sets of blankets and getting Rs 50 in return. I then asked him to get some sets for us as well and had to pay Rs 25 for each set. The TT was obviously turning a blind eye to this and the passengers must have thought that it is a Garib Rath so what the heck. The good thing was the air conditioning was not set too high so it was pleasant without turning us into icicles.

I got up at around 7.30 am and was hoping against hope that we would have crossed Thrissur. To my horror, I saw we were still at Coimbatore which meant We. Were. Three. Hours. Late. I couldn't sleep no more and got up. There was another Malayalee passenger who started a discussion on the Garib Rath and came out with the following meaningful statements
- Yes the train was more than three hours late
- This was a special train but would be made a regular feature (Hurrah)
- We had a diesel engine and that is why we were going slow and aslo why the train was shaking so much

Although the conversation was inspiring, I couldn't match up and kept quiet. At Palakkad, we got some good coffee and oily vadas. I was surprised at the quality of the coffee as I have usually found that both the coffee and tea served in Kerala stations are pathetic. The train plodded on stopping at most stations and it was quite frustrating. We finally reached Kottayam four hours behind schedule and were glad to get off.

In conclusion, take the Garib Rath if you have to get somewhere. As of now, it should be your last option because they must be ironing out the kinks. It was pretty cheap - only Rs 500 to get to Kottayam as against Rs 750 for the normal 3rd AC train fare or an AC non-sleeper bus. Also, Rs 500 is still not cheap for the under-privileged so don't worry about being surrounded by them. I am guessing they would rather travel in the unreserved compartment. Carry your own blankets and food though. Happy Journeying!!!