Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Maro Saalo!

Genre: Mumbai

Visualize this-

A middle-aged man jumps off Platform 3 at Malad, wanting to cross over to Platform 4. He sees a Virar bound Fast local approaching far away on Line 3. He misjudges the speed of the train. The train hits him at nearly 100kmph. A black chappal is seen flying in the air. When the entire train has passed, all that is left is a lump of flesh and torn clothes drenched in blood. Within seconds, crows gather over it and start tearing off pieces of flesh...

I am sorry if you found this description too gory. However, it seems thousands of Mumbaikars do not mind dying this way. After all inspite of repeated warnings, education campagins, barricades, fines, even prosecutions, they remain nonchalant and adamant. It might come as a shock to you that while a total of 1200 soldiers were killed in the three wars India fought with Pakistan, almost three times that number- a staggering 3500 people die on Mumbai's railway tracks every single year, and yet nobody seems to care! The railways are not to blame here- WR and CR have both done all that they could to stop people from crossing tracks- warning boards have been put up at all platforms dissuading people from crossing tracks. WR went one step ahead and came up with a jingle which became an instant hit ("Rail Ki Patri... Paar Na Kare") but the irony is that the very passengers who hum this jingle standing on the platforms, jump the tracks the very next moment! Probably realizing the popular Hindi idiom 'Laato ke Bhoot Baaton se nahi maante', both WR and CR even started an intensive anti-trespassing drive and hundreds of track-crossers even went to jail for 3 to 7 days. But even this doesn't seem to deter most of the idiots. The heights of stupidity was reached at Jogeshwari yesterday when a mob went to the Station Master's office demanding that the barricade put up to prevent track crossing be removed because they find climbing the bridge "too tiring"!

This is not an isolated case. Passengers all over Mumbai have come up with the most innovative (and really really stupid) excuses to justify their idiotic act- from the most popular "Come on, I am not blind. I see properly and cross the tracks" and "I am too tired/late/bored to climb the bridge" to the unusual ones like "The bridge has been built in very unusual way and there are too many steps" and "My Rs 2 coin fell down so I am crossing the tracks".

To all these morons, I ask just one question- is saving two minutes orsaving the effort of climbing a few flight of stairs more important than your life? Have you ever imagined what your mom will go through when she comes to know that her son/daughter who had gone to college in the morning is now lying in a morgue in three-four chopped pieces? Have you ever given a thought to what your wife will go through when she comes to know that her husband for whom she was so eagerly waiting all evening is now just a lump of flesh whom she wouldn't be able to recognise? Ever wondered what will be the reaction of your children when they come to know that they will never even get to see the face of their mom/dad who had gone to work in the morning?

If inspite of all this, you justify your track-crossing act, I have only one thing to say- MARO SAALO! GO TO HELL! That's what you deserve!


PS: See THIS video if you haven't seen it so far.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Santa Singh's Moon Mission

Genre: Humour

This is what happens when ISRO decides to send Santa Singh as India's first astronaut on the Moon-

Bolo Ta Ra Ra Ra...!!!

Celebrating 40 Years of First Moon Landing.
"One Small Step for Man...One Giant Leap for Mankind."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Ten Most Memorable Rail Photos

Genre: Life

A lot of my well-wishers have been repeatedly reminding me how much I will miss my beloved Indian Railways once I shift to USA. Today, when exactly one month remains before I leave India, I decieded to travel back in time and mine out some of the best photos I have taken over the years spent on the Indian Railways.

It is said that a photo is worth a thousand words, but sometimes a photo has memories associated with it that needs to be expressed in words. Here are my Ten Most Memorable Railway Photos alongwith the story behind each of them-

1. Swarna Jayanti Express at Shindawane Ghats
This photo remains closest to my heart because of the widespread appreciation it has received from all quarters, including IRCTC who have used it for their advertisement. But, very few people know the story behind this photo- we had gone to Shindawane Ghat near Pune with the Pune gang. After trekking for 3km, the others positioned themselves near a bridge, while Chaitanya egged me to go further and we both crossed the tall bridge, went through a rock cutting and as we were walking, we heard the horn of the approaching train. So, having no time to find a good location, I just managed to climb onto a small hillock by the side of the tracks by the time the train came out of the tunnel and took a photo. The result is what you see above!

2. Patna Express at Padli
This is another "luck-by-chance" photo that has received a lot of publicity, including appearing in DNA Newspaper alongwith the article on IRFCA. After spending around an hour in the blazing sun at Padli near Igatpuri, we decided to quit and move elsewhere. Just as we were making our exit, we heard a horn. Not having any time to adjust myself, I just turned around, pointed the camera at the train and took the shot. It was only on reaching home I noticed the very-European look of this photo.

3. KK at Akkalkot Road
This was during the journey to Bangalore for the IRFCA 2009 Convention. Our train was put in siding at Akkalkot Road just at sunrise time and immediately all of us jumped out onto the tracks to be told that the legendary Karnataka Express (fondly called KK) was to cross. Since there were four other guys also aiming their cameras at the approaching train and the sun was straignt in front of the camera, I decided to go behind the Flag-man. Needless to say, the result was absolutely unbelievable even to me at first!

4. Sewagram on Thull Ghat
This photo is special for it marked the end of hours of wait and a tiring day in the Thull Ghats which involved descending right upto the base of the bridge seen here and climbing up again to this spot. Just as we were packing up, Sewagram Express crossed the bridge and for once, I decided not to focus on the leading loco and rather let the entire train pass and wait for the three Bankers attached at the rear of the train to come onto the bridge.

5. Karnavati at Vaitarna
It was one of the monsoon days when the Mumbai and Pune gang decieded to explore the Western line. While the Pune gang was adamant on going to Saphale, I insisted on getting of at Vaitarna and climbed the hillock next to the station. Even I didn't know how the view from the top would be, but when I saw Karnavati Express slowly entering the bridge in the distance, I was just speechless.

6. Faceoff at Diwankhauti
It was the monsoon trip on Konkan Railway and our Janshatabdi was halted at this tiny station called Diwankhauti for a crossing. Amidst drizzling rain, me and Akshay got off the train and started walking ahead when suddenly the Ratnagiri Passenger approached from behind the rock cuttings. What makes this photo interesting is the red signal exactly in between the two trains, making it look as if two wrestlers are waiting on two sides, ready to pounce upon each other!

7. Rajdhani at Umroli
This was during the scariest railfanning evening I have ever spent. A couple of years ago, Umroli was a ghost station when me, Apoorva and Arzan went there. It was only post sunset we realised that the station has not a single light working! There was quite some time for our return train to arrive, so we had no option but to spend an hour amidst pitch darkness and barking dogs! In the midst of this, the August Kranti Rajdhani came charging in at 120kmph. Unable to see anything in the dark, I just aimed the camera towards the tracks and pressed the trigger, not knowing that the flash was on! The result left all three of us spellbound!

8. CST on Diwali Night
Long before I even owned a digital camera, on the Diwali night of 2006, I was passing by CST by car when I saw the station building beautifully illuminated. Immediately I took out my Sony Ericsson k750i and took this photo from the car itself before the signal turned green. Till today, a lot of people refuse to believe that this was taken using a cellphone camera!

9. Inside Ukshi Tunnel
Ukshi on Konkan Railway is India's only station where trains stop inside a tunnel. I always fantasized how it would feel stopping inside the tunnel but since no express trains have a scheduled halt here, getting this opportunity is totally a matter of chance. I got that chance on recent Kerala trip by Mangala when we were made to wait in siding at Ukshi for Mandovi to cross and my coach being at the fag end of the train, we stopped right in the middle of the tunnel. While a few passengers were getting worried seeing their train stopping in a tunnel, this kid in the next coach was nicely enjoying making for a beautiful silhoutte.

10. The Tourist
It is not necessary to always focus on trains and locomotives alone, sometimes the travellers make for better subjects and one classic case is this photo. I was onboard the Udaipur-Bandra Express where this British lady was my co-passenger. The way she was engrossed in enjoying the Indian countryside intrigued me and I couldn't resist capturing her emotions on camera.

So, is this making you feel that railfanning is an interesting hobby to pursue? Check out IRFCA now! Join the IRFCA Yahoo Group!

PS: Everyone who has the 2009 IRFCA Calender, check out the photo for the month of July! What a coincidence!
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