Memories of a Train Journey

Rohit Kumar
3 min readApr 9, 2022

I am what they call a compliant traveller. In other words, I comply. If I’ve been given a window seat in a plane, I sit by the window. If I’ve been given an aisle seat I sit by the aisle. I put my luggage away neatly and try not to be a pain in the collective butt. These are my principles while travelling by train, too.

Except that the night of the 2nd of March, 2015, was different. Travelling from Dehradun to Delhi, there was no way on God’s earth I was going to sleep all night on the Upper Berth (or “UB” as it said on the reservation chart outside the coach.) First of all, it’s damn cold up there with the AC vents blowing right on you and secondly, I wasn’t about to clamber up on top. It’s not like I can’t. I can. But I just wasn’t going to.

I was the first person in the little coupe in the 1st AC cabin, so I got in, and waited on the LB (Lower Berth). A portly gentleman entered and plonked himself on the LB opposite mine.

“Lower Berth?” I asked him.

“Yass,” he replied, and without any further prompting said, “हम जैसे लोग lower berth पे ही ठीक हैं.” (People like us are happiest on Lower Berths) Having said thus, he scratched his scalp vigorously, lay down on the LB, rolled over, let out a long, satisfied belch and fell asleep.

A few minutes later another person entered. This one wasn’t just portly, he was tall as well. Portly and tall. He entered the cabin and glared at me.

“Lower berth?” I asked him.

“Yas,” he said, still glaring.

I don’t normally do this, but, in my politest and sweetest voice I said, “Sir, I have a little problem with my leg.” (I didn’t, but, well.)

“Could I humbly request you to take the Upper Berth?” A tad shameless, I know, but once in a while you gotta do what you gotta do.

Mr. Tall continued to glare at me. After what seemed like the proverbial eternity he said, “I am President of the Gynaecological Association of Agra.”

I stared. “Honoured to meet you,” I finally said, not quite sure what that had to with anything.

He continued to glare at me and then slowly heaved his substantial bulk up to the Upper Berth.

I said, “Thank you for your sacrifice in taking the Upper Berth.”

At which point, the fellow in the Lower Berth opposite me suddenly rolled over and said, “It is truly a sacrifice” and rolled back again.

Mr. Gynecologist peered down to see where that bit of affirmation had come from and said into the darkness below his UB, “I am President of the Gynaecological Association of Agra.”

At which the chap in the LB rolled back over, stuck a pudgy arm up and said, “Myself dermatologist. Pleej to meet you.”

They shook hands, the Gynae and the Derma.

For the next half an hour, the President proceeded to lay out his credentials and achievements before the dermatologist who responded every three minutes or so with “But of course.”

Having exhausted his exhaustive achievements, the man gave me one final glare, put off the lights and went to sleep on the UB.

Jokes apart, I really am very grateful to the President of the Gynaecological Association of Agra for giving up the Lower Berth, It was a noble thing to do. God will bless him in the future with many good births… I mean, BERTHS.

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