Class apart

Last weekend I had taken my mom and kid for an outing. The plan was to travel by the very famous ‘Mumbai local train’. Just to give a background, Mumbai has a good network of railways connecting different parts of cities. Millions of people travel everyday by these local trains. There are two types of coaches in the trains – general, which is economical and used by the majority and special, which has the fare 3-4 times of general and hence used only by people who can afford that.

The station closet to me is one of the starting points for train and I had to get down at the last stop. So I took tickets for general class. It being a weekend, the number of trains starting from my station were very less. In fact the next train was 3 hours later. ( I did not check the time table, my fault). So all the coming from farther stations were crowded. And with my kid and mom, it was impossible for me to get it. After waiting for almost an hour, I took impulsive decision to take the special class, even though my ticket was for general class ( while I was waiting it never struck me to go and get the special class ticket ). I know I was breaking the rules, and was ready to pay the fine ( which is 10 times more than the special class fare !!!)

After crossing a few stations and when I kind of half- way through my journey, I decided to get down and go back to general class. The reason was I should not use the facility for more than what’s needed. ( some reduction in guilt!!) and I did as I had planned. The actual story starts now.

I was comfortably sitting at one side and on the other there was a lady ( who if I can guess from her appearance was not from a very financially well off background) was eating banana. My little one who has just started to speak, looked at her, and said banana. Without a single moment of hesitation, she gave the only banana which was left with her to my little one !! Those two bananas were her meal, and she just gave away half of it. I was overwhelmed and also embarrassed. I did convince her to take back the same. I was more than impressed and do respect the lady for that kind gesture. I prayed to God may all her wishes be fulfilled and she is always happy.

Thinking more about it, I was reminded about a few other experiences. The people in general class I have found to be more accommodative and with less arrogance. Ideally one bench in the coach is comfortable for 3 people to sit, and in general often you find fourth one as well. While in first class, once someone had asked to make space for the fourth seat, the females said.. Are you crazy, this is special class and no fourth seat here !!

Disclaimer – this observation is based on the limited sample I have seen. Do not have sufficient knowledge nor the experience to call this as generalisation.

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