The Railway Riot!

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April 21st 2008
Published: April 21st 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

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I would love to do this in England!
I should have known today was going to be one of those insane days when Bollywood came bashing on our door at 6:00am. We had agreed to be extras in a Bollywood movie the night before, but forgot we had booked our train to Varanasi. We refused to answer when a lunatic began bashing on the door and shouting at us to get out of bed. Hay, it’s not everyday you get to piss off Bollywood! Anyone would have thought we were leading actors judging by the way it all kicked off. A great start to the day!

We spent the day on Elephant Island. It was a complete rip off. The boat was supposed to only take 20 minutes. It took a couple of hours. Once there we had no choice but to pay Foreigner Tax to enter the island. I would love to charge foreigner tax in UK... can you imagine the trouble that would cause!

I should have seen this coming.....

We arrived at Mumbai Victoria train station at 10:30pm to be met with what appeared to be a refugee camp. There were thousands of people everywhere waiting for their trains. It’s the Indian Holiday
Refugee Camp? Refugee Camp? Refugee Camp?

A small section of the train station before the stampede!
season and millions have taken to the railways booking up every available seat. Its complete madness, with people pushing, shoving and shouting at one another, it was very intimidating.

When we arrived at the train station we found our way to the information desk. People kept shoving their way in front of us to talk to the officials. We both quickly realized we would have to work as a team to block people shoving past. As one bloke tried to squeeze in-between us, we turned inwards squashing him between our two large backpacks. All we heard was a yelp followed by a sucking of the teeth! We realized this approach worked and continued bashing them out of the way until we got to the front of the queue. Everyone looked like they wanted to fight us! I think we well and truly endeared the locals this time.

Once we were advised from which platform to get our train, we had to wait with thousands of other people. When our train arrived more insanity was let loose. Hundreds of people began stampeding towards the train. I have never seen a stampede before; it was a real eye opener. One of the main problems with the Indian railway is that the lower class coaches have no seat allocations so it is a free for all. With millions taking to the railways it was obvious all hell was about to break loose. You could almost sense the tension in the air.

We stood in amazement! About 100 people charged into each carriage designed for 25. They all climbed over one another, physically fighting to get through the doors. Young children and the elderly were trampled while others tried to kick open the doors to upper-class compartments. The closest I could describe the scene which unfolded before us is something from the News, when starving people fight for food rashions during a 3rd world disaster, or maybe rats trying to escape a sinking ship!

Next the riot police turned up with their bamboo canes. They proceeded to bash people stampeding towards the carriages. The lunatics that had managed to get into the compartment locked the doors from the inside; they obviously knew what was coming. The police began kicking in the doors until someone opened them. Once opened, loads of riot police stormed the carriages and began indiscriminately beating everyone. It was complete mayhem with lots of shouting and people’s luggage being thrown around. The police soon took control. We stood only a couple of meters away from the action... our jaws almost touching the floor with disbelief. I would love to have taken a photo of the events, but I am sure I would have ended up with a beating too.

The train to Varanasi took 30 hours. We shared a 2AC (upper class) compartment designed for 4 people with 8 Indians. I think we were very lucky; some of the carriages looked packed. They were a really nice Indian family; we spent our time discussing the events that had happened and the madness of India. Thank god I don’t live here.

Incredible India!


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