Surviving the Indian Railways - CLOSE SHAVE ON THE SUPERFAST EXPRESS

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March 10th 2014
Published: March 10th 2014
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There’s nothing better than the Indian Railways for the intrepid traveller to experience India in all its insane unity and diverse perversity. But then, India is a large country, which means one must be prepared to spend 24 hours or more on board a train. Often, the combined anatomical and gastronomical challenges posed by crammed coaches, cramped berths and jammed toilets might overwhelm you and prevent you from performing even the simplest of tasks like breathing, eating, changing clothes or shaving. This in turn could cramp your enthusiasm (if not your innards) and very easily spoil your holiday.

But despair not! With a few simple tips, you can be as comfortable on the train as you are at home, and do all your routine tasks as well—with a few innovative modifications as needed. Buoyed by this spirit, we provide a set of step-wise guidelines that will help you shave while travelling in Indian Railway trains without doing serious injury to yourself.

1. Enter toilet with toilet kit. Bolt door.

2. Place toilet kit on one of the two shelves built into the wall next to the sink. This step requires extreme care, as (a) shelves are set directly above the gaping maw of the water closet (W.C), and (b) the Indian Railways have ensured that the width of the shelves is precisely one inch less than the width of your toilet kit, or indeed that of any other toilet kit save the models made in Pakistan, which lack the mandatory I.S.I (Inter-Services Intelligence) mark.

3. Open mouth in readiness to snap at and seize the toilet kit straps in case the kit flies off the shelf and plunges towards the W.C. With teeth bared, unzip the toilet kit and remove shaving tackle comprising shaving brush, razor and tube of shaving cream.

4. Place brush, razor and tube of shaving cream on the rim of the wash basin, after dislodging the dead cockroach that has assumed an advanced hatha yoga posture next to the faucet.

5. Take several deep breaths, brace feet on oscillating floor and grasp shaving cream tube firmly in left hand. Unscrew cap with right hand while pressing right buttock and hip against the wall. Place cap in mouth and clamp it gently between teeth. Keep left eye on toilet kit, ready to spit out cap and seize kit straps in case the kit leaps off the shelf (refer to step 3 above).

6. Pick up shaving brush in right hand and apply a gob of shaving cream by squeezing tube in left hand. Repeat procedure till gob of cream lands on brush and stays there. Ignore gobs of cream that have fallen into basin and/or on to the shirt-front, fly of trousers and floor.

7. Place shaving cream tube on basin rim. Holding brush in right hand, clutch the W.C. pipe for support with left hand and move brush repeatedly across face till cheeks and chin are covered with foam. Remove excess foam from eyes, nose, ears and hair.

8. Put down brush on basin rim (alternatively, spit out cap and grasp brush between teeth). Grab razor as it sails through the air upon sudden braking of train. Hold razor firmly in right hand, and with light, deft strokes, remove foam and small sections of the ear and nose on both sides of face.

9. Transfer left hand from W.C. pipe to faucet. Press faucet and splash water onto face with right hand. If you feel sharp pain, check if the razor is still in your right hand. Place razor on basin rim, dab away blood and rinse repeatedly. Retrieve shaving cream tube and razor from bottom of basin where they have landed upon sudden jerking of train.

10. Repeat steps 7, 8 and 9 till your chin is smooth, or till you have decapitated yourself (whichever is earlier).

11. Rinse razor and shake vigorously to dislodge water drops. Warning for men: there is a high risk of castration while undertaking this crucial step, especially if the train crosses points. The risk may be reduced by wearing thick denim or corduroy trousers (cricketers could don a ‘guard’).

12. Wash brush and shake dry. Replace cap on shaving cream tube. Put away razor, brush and tube in toilet kit. Warning: Both hands are engaged during this step, and hence there is a danger of losing one’s balance in the event of sudden braking or acceleration. (An involuntary stumble during this step nearly caused the permanent detachment of a vital and tender appendage from the body of your correspondent.)

14. Take out folds of tissue from toilet kit and wipe away shaving cream blobs, stubble, bits of hair and other unsightly material that may be adhering to mirror, walls, faucet, hair, trousers, etc.

15. Fling tissue into W.C. Flush well, unlock washroom door and exit with toilet kit secure in right hand.

16. Yell in agony as you realize you have mistakenly flung the toilet kit instead of tissue into the W.C. Return to the washroom, fling tissue into W.C and exit clean-handed and clean-shaven.


12th March 2014

Mani, this is quite funny. Although, I have not experienced all these contortions you describe the guys have to do in order to shave, this does not compare to the problems girls have to face while traveling in the Indian Railways. Constant. harassment, lewd comments and lechy looks from the guys we had to deal with.
5th October 2014

we want more!!
this stuff is uproariously funny and unfortunately so true also!!! Please write more.....
2nd January 2016

Keep it going Mani
The struggle could not have been described better. I laughed my guts out. The Indian railways would have shaken my guts out Hahaha! A great read.

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