Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Tag: Railways

FAN AND ITS USES

 

 

FAN AND ITS USES

 

 A fan in the room is such a solace especially in summers. The mere presence of it gives you a comfort level not because it is circulating air around but thank God electricity is there. Everyone has a favourite place in the room depending on your hierarchy in the house. Sitting under the fan naturally is reserved for the head of the house, right. You are mistaken. If you have pets then they are the bosses and they know where to sit. You can adjust accordingly.

You must ask a “Bai” the importance of a fan. She thinks that fans are meant to dry the wetness of the poncha. The most irritating thing they can do is that if you are sitting and she comes in for jharu. You have to leave the room for two reasons, she feels awkward and you feel awkward trying to hide a Whatsapp message. Second reason is that she will switch off the fan for her jharu. Choice is yours to sit in the heat or evaporate from the room. Actually, she doesn’t want you to hang around and leave her to work in peace.

The story doesn’t end here. If she has finished her jharu, then comes the turn of poncha. There is a time lag between the two. First, all jharu is finished and then she does poncha. Now the opposite happens. Say you have kept the regulator of the fan at two; bai wouldn’t care less and shall twist its nose to five. Dare you get down from the bed to reduce the regulator speed, you will be shouted down to climb up again. You will ruin her neatly done poncha if you step on the wet floor with your dirty feet and leave your pug marks on the nice & clean looking tiles.

Then there are some fans which till date I have not made head or tail of. These were fans inside those old buses, Ambassadors and Fiats. The vehicles used to be without AC in the years of yore. So by default all windows used to be kept open. I used to wonder whom are they going to throw air on. The driver used to have a special switch on the dashboard and in fauj the INT chap would stick “FAN” written with a lettro gun. This car fans neck used to be permanently twisted towards the driver invariably.

I have very fond memories of the “fatta class” of the Indian Railways. Reservations were done rarely and the free for all second class unreserved used to be our basic mode of travel. It used to have fans. Switches never worked and if they worked “on” meant “off” and vice versa. Most of the fans used to just stare at you without moving. My dad had found a way to make them work. He used to pull out a “Kanghi” from his pocket and put it though the gaps and give the blade a solid hit, 50 % chances used to be it would start. I used to make the fan my shoe rack and tie shoe laces to one of the wires as an anti-theft mechanism. Fans worked when the train moved whereas they were required to run when the train halted. Who benefited from the fans, God alone knows!

In school I remember very vividly. Fans served as clothes driers. The best way to dry clothes was to hang washed uniforms on the fans. Hostelers in school put them on hangers and hung these on the neck of the fan blades. They used to leave the fans switched on and left them to rotate at the slowest speed. On return the clothes used to be dry. After lunch and before study period was ideal time to visit the “dhoban” if I remember correctly. Innovation never ended as wires were neatly wrapped around the fan blades. That was in case more number of clothes were to dry. It was not surprising to see fans in hostels drooping down, never giving the requisite air when required because the balance of the blades used to get offset in the clothes drying procedure.

Be that as it may, fans of many varieties have surfaced including one called the “Farrata”. It can blow up many a skirt while passing by. I still haven’t been able to explain the logic to any bai that the fan is meant to cool people and not dry the poncha wetness. I am sure these ladies will one day understand why Schuyler Skaats Wheeler invented the fan. Will they? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

ARMED FORCES TO RESCUE POLLUTED INDIA

The buzz in Delhi and the media is pollution. To that extent my mind has got so polluted that I cannot think rationally anymore. The constant bak-bak, tu-tu-mai-mai about the subject is getting on my nerve. Worst is what can be implemented now is being deferred or postponed. Governments are busy with what they are best at doing that is passing the buck. It is not surprising that now even Pakistan has started blaming India for polluting its air, like we blame everything on ISI and Pakistan.

How can the Armed Forces contribute to reduction of pollution in North India? I have an idea. The serving folks will kill me for what I am going to suggest but I shall take it in its stride because we have done so many things for this country so why not chip in here too.

Let all transport aircrafts sprinkle water over the complete affected area, from Punjab to UP and from Himachal to Rajasthan, in and around Delhi where smog exists. I don’t know if our aircrafts can be modified to carry water but if need be let’s do it to our transport fleet. If the Government of India or for that matter Delhi goes to hire such aircrafts, it would be two seasons passed due to governmental delays. In case government hires aircrafts emergently, the exorbitant rates it might have to pay and how many people will make money needs to be considered. Yes, if we need to buy a few aircrafts which douse forest fires, let’s start the procurement process now for the next season.

The basic issue is the burning of stubble in Delhi & its neighbouring states. This year the farmers have already burnt what they had to but for next season let there be a massive logistics exercise by the Army or under the Army with Indian railways included. The complete fleet of the armed forces transport, civil hired transport (CHT) and goods train rakes be mobilised with adequate manpower by forming a grid across the affected states. As the farmers harvest, the trucks pick up the stubble and transport it to the remote desert of Rajasthan by rail and road.

Few things will happen; one, animals in Rajasthan’s will never go hungry. Two, thermal power plants can utilise this for generating power. Three, tremendous amount of compost can be generated which can be sent all over the country for farming. Four, in case Rajasthan wants to start organic farms along the IGC (Indira Gandhi Canal) I can assure you we will have radish (mooli) and carrots three feet long. Five, prices of vegetables will drop and six, there will be no need to import vegetables. The only thing is we will have to ban “Mooli Parathas” for obvious polluting reasons.

Let us try it out for one season. Let us have no burning of any crop waste. All this has to be done in a time bound manner and no one can beat the forces in punctuality. Let the government agencies clear all roads for passing of these huge convoys and railways give highest priority to such rakes. Let the CHTs be moved under the army supervision to places earmarked. Let a civil organisation get into fodder distribution and compost making so that well before the next crop all that was received is disposed off. Once the forces have shown the way let the civil administration take over and carry out this ritual as their primary duty to save people from pollution.

I am still not sure how do the developed countries expand their infrastructure without polluting their cities. Why Delhi needs to stop construction? Odd even rule needs to be followed but not with a double whammy that you quadruple the parking charges. Make Delhi so transport friendly that everyone commutes by public transport. If you count the number of cabs in Delhi the figure would be in many lakhs. Registered four wheelers may touch a figure of one crore plus. So rather than having 20 cars in the PMs Fleet can we reduce a few. Down the line Mantri’s who have such categories of security also need to prune their fleet. The Army Chief goes around with just two or three vehicles. Could anybody be a bigger target than the Chief himself? Let’s stop this show-sha bazi.

Well complete North India is gripped with this menace. Let us implement the short term measures today, plan for the long term in the next 30 days and be ready for its implementation in the next harvest season.

I gave this suggestion of using the forces in jest. You never know I might be given the Nobel Prize for “idiotic thinking”. If we as a force could do so many things for this country then why cannot we contribute to saving the residents of North India from this deadly pollution?

I have one more suggestion; someone needs to take the responsibility straight away irrespective of state, center, gram panchayat or whatever. The citizens have to stand up with the government now. Situation is becoming desperate. Stop this mind pollution, stop this venom and hatred spreading, stop all kinds of pollution of minority, majority, Hindu, Muslim. PM Sir, India is the biggest canvas where you can paint a collage. Let us see it emerging rather than it getting blurred in this mix of all sorts of pollutants. Will it be now or will it be never? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

 

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

© Noel Ellis

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

© Noel Ellis

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

© Noel Ellis

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