Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Category: RAILWAYS

GT ROAD RENAMED NOEL ELLIS ROAD

Someone said uproot the Taj Mahal, thereafter people came up with an idea to demolish the Rashtrapati Bhawan and Parliament. Then a few suggested the Red Fort too should bite the dust. I am amazed at how people think and add fuel to the already lit communal fire. One thing is clear, the way we are trying to tamper with history it will definitely have consequences.  What Aurengzeb did or did not do is not the question but had we Indians got the guts we should have not allowed him to invade us. Had we been united then we would have not allowed anyone to leave a landmark or any legacy. We aren’t united even today thus not learning from our history.

Be that as it may, I was thinking why not rename the Grant Trunk (GT) road. It was named Sher Shah Suri Marg once. Who was Mr SS Suri? Please dig into the history books to find out don’t ask me. A Punjabi song popular amongst truck drivers about the road were “GT road te, haye road te….” Bus drivers used to believe in, “Chak de phatte nap de killi, subha Jalandhar sham nu dilli”. I remember traveling this route by road as well as rail as a child and it used to be the most prestigious route called the NH-1 from Lahore to Calcutta. I have seen this road transform from a road to a Highway and that is history.

There was no direct bus or train service to Delhi from Kapurthala, my residence. The nearest place to get a bus or train was Jullunder now Jalandhar (change in history). A small bus stand on GT road Jalandhar used to be congested like hell. To identify a bus going to “Garha” village or Delhi was difficult. If the bus had its chassis bent, torn silencer, splattered with mud, doors missing, broken windows, hanging head lights and the radiator glaring at you over a half hanging fender one could assume this is a local bus. A nicely painted, well dressed driver, Jalwa horn blaring, cushioned seats, freshly cleaned if not painted body; with lots of hanging jhalars all around the bus was an indicator that this could be a long route bus. Of course the shout in short bursts, Dilli-dilli-dilli-dilli. The conductor used to make it very clear “Rah di sawari koi na hove” (passengers getting down enroute need not mount) and mark my words Phillor and Phagwara people were dropped only at Ludhiana.

GT road was broad though but did not have dividers in between then. I have seen it grow from two lanes to six lanes and to what it is today. There were hardly any flyovers. In those days buses and trains used to race side by side. Closer to Ludhiana somewhere near Dhandarikalan, “keenu” used to be a new citrus fruit introduced those days. The long route busses used to stop for a quick drink of freshly squeezed malta or keenu juice.

Ambala Cantt used to be a major junction and the trains used to halt long enough for dad to rush to Puran Singh da dhaba and get fresh mutton curry and tandoori rotis. From there reaching Delhi was either from the Meerut-Gaziabad route for Old Delhi or the Kurukshetra route for New Delhi. We mostly travelled to Old Delhi. Moment one heard the heavy sounds of those typical clangs and bangs on the common rail and Road Bridge on river Yamuna hugging the red fort walls one knew “Ab dilli door nahi” (Delhi is not far away). If history has to be changed then the Bombay-Ferozpur Frontier Mail and Delhi-Amritsar Flying Mail also need to be re-named.

Why not change its name into Akbar road, no-no not the Azeem-O-Shaan Sahensha but our very own indigenous Akbar saab who is now an MP. With no offences meant sir and no religious flavour as till date I am confused who was Akbar’s son, was it Babar or Humayun or neither. My history is pathetic as it is. I always get mixed up with the fathers and sons of that era. With the present generation they won’t even care to find out who was who and we talk of changing history.

Why not name it Noel Ellis road? Half of India will not be able to pronounce it first of all. The only qualification I have is that I am a common citizen of this country. Why history can’t be created by renaming a road on the “aam admis” name. Why do we always look up in history to name things after all those oldies, or all those political figures? Well, freedom fighters too now are being felicitated at many places. I gave my youth too for keeping the country’s sovereignty in tact by serving the motherland by being part of one of the finest Armies of the world. Yes people may say I am living person. I will argue lets create history by not naming something on somebody who is already dead.

These days I find only polarisation and hatred being spread. I do not accept it as a citizen of this country. All those who try to change history will become history themselves.  Today’s generation cares two hoots whether you name a road or a building on anything. We are a modern India so changing ancient history won’t work Mr Dhotiwala. Can you guys grow up? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

ELPHINSTONE TRAGEDY

23 people died in a foot over bridge stampede and no heads roll. Ministers come and ministers go no heads roll, BMC may be ruled by BJP or Shiv Sena no heads roll, length and speed of trains keep increasing no heads roll, responsibility is of the railways or the state government, the blame game will continue. All those responsible who gave statements to the media appeared so serious that it appeared before their interview would be over there would be new broad FOBs at all congested places. Population of the city is increasing; infrastructure is collapsing no heads roll. Mumbai will never stop, even if heads roll or don’t roll. That is the spirit of this city.

I read somewhere that everyday there are about 30 deaths on the tracks due to people not using the FOBs. Here people are using it and still we lose so many. What does one do?  Who do we blame for those deaths? Is it the paucity of time? Is it the pressure of the job? Why is there such a hurry or rush? Why do people have to take short cuts? Is it in our blood? Is it that we assume we can beat the train? Are we so overconfident that nothing can happen to us? Of course some people do commit suicide. If the trains are slow there is an issue, if they are fast then there is an issue, if they are less then there is an issue, if you increase their numbers or the bogies then there are chances of a stampede. Leave alone the normal trains even the ladies specials are a sight to witness where everyone wants to be on this very train. The term DHAKKA-MUKKI can be experienced in such situations first hand.

Say if I have to reach my office at 9 and it takes one hour from my place of residence to reach then I need to take the train between 7.30 and 8 am. If everyone takes the same train then how can all commuters get accommodated together? Say if the capacity of the station is to handle 2 to 3 trains at a time and double the number land up, is it humanly possible for all passengers to mount or alight at the same time. The people who have to board the train don’t let the people who want to get down. Pushing is both ways. How can such a situations be tackled? Can the railways delay the arrival of one train by a minute? If they do it their track record will go for a six. The DRM will skin the people alive; the motorman will get a penalty, the station master a reprimand. Ultimately who suffers, it is the poor commuter.

If we tell corporate to stagger their office timings, how many are willing to do so? People of Nalasopara or Virar will have to get up at 4 am if their office is in Colaba or Cuff parade starts at 8am. Similarly, the offices which generally close at 6 pm will shut shop at 9 pm. Think about the ladies who have a family to look after. Think about their husbands who will be working too. Their children will have to stay alone in this mad bad world, besides girls are not safe in Mumbai. If they are travelling late, God save them. There are solutions but who will implement them. The only way out is survival of the fittest in a place called Mumbai? As it is there is no life for the common man who struggles day in and day out in these trains.

At peak hours if you are at Churchgate, VT, Dadar or Andheri, it is a nightmare folks. I still haven’t dared to mount a local ever in my ten years in and around Mumbai. I would rather pay a kali-peeli extra even if it gets stuck in traffic, or walk home rather than rub my shoulders in a local train and smell the various fragrances emanating from the arm pits staring in your face. One is also not sure to find his purse or mobile at the next station. God forbid if you are near the exit or a window; you may be hit by a flying object.

The local politics on the train one learns fast. You dare sit on a seat of a daily commuter and you shall be treated to the best of adjectives. Dare you mount a ladies compartment; besides being arrested on all charges by the GRP you would hear the latest and choicest of abuses. Chances are that you will be kicked out at the entrance itself. This often happens to novices. Dare you climb a first class compartment with a second class ticket; you will have an experience of your life time. All this my friends have narrated so I know.

The stories are endless and this Mumbai world is cruel. The railways are heartless they just carry passengers; the BMC is aimless as they can’t even fill pot holes. The passengers are incorrigible. The infrastructure is pathetic and crumbling. The population is bursting at its seams. Above all people are dying for lack of amenities and non adherence to safety procedures. Most due to negligence and maximum because of the apathy of the various governmental agencies call it the railways or the State Government or the municipality.  Everyone has their own agenda.

Audits should have been done ages back, with every increase of train or passenger coach the proportionate infrastructure should be catered for. Budget should be earmarked and allocated. This drama of tender also needs to be looked into. There are too many red tapes, too many hindrances’, too many people with lackadaisical attitude working for the people of Mumbai.

My condolences to the bereaved families, if heads do not roll now then people know how to get heads rolling. I hope all concerned are listening. I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

ONE BABA & FORTY POLICE

One baba has brought the North of the country to a standstill. 200 plus trains have been cancelled, 10 lakh potties on the road side and increasing every minute, as many plants and trees watered. 40 companies of CAPF mobilised, Army on standby, busses halted on the borders and so on. Air Force summoned in as I believe helicopter movement is on the cards. Poor Navy, they can’t mount warships on trailers or else they too would have been made part of a naval blockade in Panchkula. I am not ridiculing the navy but I am ridiculing the state of affairs in this country that just look at this person he can hold this country to ransom. Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have declared holidays in schools and colleges till 28 Aug. Kya baat baba ji, where were you all these years. Police as usual is about to hand over the baton to the Army as situation may go out of their hands.

There have been a few more babas who were on my radar screen, one of them is languishing in Jodhpur jail and I don’t want to dirty my fingers typing about him. Then there is another baba who claims to have a third eye. He can somehow find out from smell of your burp the number of aloos missing in the aloo ka paratha which you fed to a black dog, on an amavasya, at the turning of the road near the kabristan. He can motivate you to distribute jalebis to all the diabetic patients. He can clear all blockages between you and your “kirpa” by trying to remember which place you belong, what khana or mithai or deity is famous in your hometown and then come out with weird solutions. Innocent people lap it up as the brainwashing is done by such ungodly men.  Hindustani today is just looking for solutions which are sasta and tikaau.

Well, today if you want to lead a colourful and peaceful life you either become a baba or a politician. No responsibility, tremendous fan following, catch the nerve of the janta, exploit the naive public, say anything and it becomes gospel, divert attention anywhere, exploit sentiments, give some jobs as your maintenance staff, money is not an issue as people donate, if they don’t they are made to donate for fear of God and dire consequences. Both ways the sufferer is a person like me. They make the rules, they break the rules, they tell me what to do and what not to do, and I simply follow. Why? because I am illiterate, if I am educated I don’t apply my brains, even if I apply my brains I am threatened of consequences, even then if I rebel I am one of the very few. Add religious and political fanaticism to it, like every political party today is saintly and holier than thou and every baba has become a politician. His voice for vote counts, so what is left for you and me is to follow them or be left out.

I was watching the type of people following this so called MSG. Either they were people who are senior citizens or they are the youth who are unemployed. I don’t say they are uneducated but are basically vellas. Who will leave the fields when the paddy crop is in full bloom? Who can leave their homes where there is family and cattle to look after? Who will join such a movement at the peril of his job? Who is ready to face consequences including death due to police action? They are people who have been completely brain washed or have reached such a stage of life where life and death doesn’t matter. Some youngsters may risk their lives for the compensation which their folks may receive after their death or injury.

Whatever said and done this trend is taking this country on a different turn. The path to attain moksha is given in all scriptures; the only thing is we go to the wrong people who interpret it for us in their own way. We in India are such blind followers of anything which is chanted with a mantra because our upbringing is such. Please, I don’t want to hurt any religion or sentiment. I just want to put across that we are blind followers of anything which shows us a ray of light or hope. We have lost faith in our own selves completely. I would say we go beyond that, moment we come out of the temple we start comparing our chappals and in case circumstances permit, we don’t hesitate to exchange ours in the very presence of our God. We make him witness to our crime and thank him for providing exactly what we needed. We donate an additional coin if the colour matches our dress. That’s what we are.

Our thoughts need transformation. It is time now when another baba may emerge. There is already one who started with yoga and now is marketing beauty soaps and shampoos.

Countrymen and women, let us not make matters worse, let us not lose lives. If this baba is upright and correct the courts will set him free but if he is not let him face the music. No one in this country is above law. In case the verdict holds him guilty just walk away from him. Who can’t make a mistake, we all are mortals. You would have made one in judging him as he did not reveal his other side to you. If he proves he is innocent then why do you worry? The inconvenience you are causing to the nation is tremendous. The loss that is being caused because of your blockage is unwarranted. Will your baba be “sachha” enough to foot the bill of all the forces deployed and all the destruction which occurs? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 

RAIL BACHAO

Train accidents are again on the increase. Innocent lives who have entrusted everything of theirs to the railways find themselves on a journey of a different kind. People land up at the heaven’s gate in that fraction of a second when someone somewhere has not done his duty properly. Worst are those people who are left behind maimed and injured. Many perish for no fault of theirs.

Yes, the Indian Railways is totally responsible for such loss. Compensating for lives by a few lakhs is cosmetics as this person can never be replaced. People who are left behind do not know what to do now. Common train travellers are middleclass people like me or from rural background. Government can really do nothing much except to give treatment to the survivors, arrange another train for the stranded and hand over the bodies to relatives. Many have no claimants for the compensation so all of it goes back to the government kitty. Everything gets forgotten, media finds a new story. A few people are sacked or transferred and political statements are vociferously made. Resignations are demanded and by then rail traffic gets restored so life goes on as usual.

Train accidents invariably occur at inaccessible places, on the sides of fields and farms. Are civil and railway hospitals along the main train routes geared up to receive causalities?  I suggest use of helicopter ambulances. They should be mobilised to extricate casualties straight from the site to the best of hospitals. Can we have on each train a space for keeping material to make an improvised helipad even if that compartment gets destroyed? Can the railway staff be trained to create one helipad under any circumstances? I can assure you if our helicopter pilots can land on a five feet strip in the glacier in inclement weather as also our Coast Guard pilots rescue people in storms and rough seas then why can’t there be an NDRF air component to transport everything required even if it has to be under slung. The concept of Quick Reaction Teams for such activities can be done state wise for immediate cas-evac. If we can have anti sabotage and anti terrorist squads in every state, then there also should be airborne med-assist teams for the railways in general and state in particular.

Railways definitely need to pull up their socks. Accidents happen as animals come on the tracks, to people moving between tracks, crossing unmanned level crossings, to people crossing manned level crossings. However alert the driver and his assistant may be, for them to notice a crack in the railway track and stop the train at a safe distance is asking for too much. I have also not understood that why is the railway engine cabin located in a place where the driver has to peep out and look for objects. In case of bad weather he cannot even shut his window and has to look through the one in front of his seat. The length of the engine blocks the complete view of the other side. His seat is so uncomfortable that sitting on it for eight hours must be a task in itself. The assistant loco pilot hangs outside on the other side, trying to figure out if the signal is green or red or is there a caution. He maintains the logs and risks moving out on the engine to check while moving full speed. I find no safety gear for him.

I have seen them shouting to each other various commands and cautions as the situation arises. It is to confirm that what the driver has seen or observed is correct and cross checked. I can assure you one goes deaf in the engine roar. I have firsthand experience sitting in diesel engines while moving military specials. It took our railways ages for the driver and the guards to have walkie-talkies. Why can’t they have long range communication with their HQs and stations enroute? The driver or the assistant has to take the token half hanging with his arm curved at an angle. The person handing over the token has a burning “Mashal” to indicate his location at night. A dropped token means the train doesn’t have clearance to move and a penalty is imposed on the driver. Hope things have modernised and improved now.

The driver doesn’t have a toilet. Even if he stops at a railway station his position is such that he cannot run to the nearest one. I do not know if the drivers and train crew go through an alcohol test before mounting onto their workplaces as done for air crews. Railways are famous for working after getting “tally”. This I have seen myself as my uncle was a loco foreman in the NE Railway at Kathgodam and I had the privilege to travel on the footplate of steam engines many-many moons back. This poor man doesn’t even have a water cooler leave alone an air conditioned cabin. I have seen many of them carrying their own water bottles for the day’s journey. Yes stations were fixed where ice used to come on the engine after dark, as time to open the throttle and the bottle used to coincide.

Well friends our rail network is too vast. Threats are too many. One fish plate, one locking nut, one blink of an eye can lead to a tragedy. They still remain the prime movers of the citizens and freight of this country but they need to be more professional as far as rail safety and security is concerned. They also are the easiest thing to target maybe it a Rail-Roko or sabotage. Every life is precious; every life counts. I too want to ride a bullet train in this life. “Hey Prabhu”, will I be able to? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 

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