Those were the days, when time and train waited for no one. With a 'Vada-Paav' in the mouth, and a briefcase in the other, a commuter scrambling through the crowded platform was a familiar sight. The compartments meant to carry 2000 passengers, accommodated thrice that number. Those inside, huffed and puffed to redefine the concept of space! Like 3 million odd daily commuters, I too survived this ordeal for years.
So, when I had to travel to the city recently, like a seasoned commuter I reached the station well past the rush hour. The platforms were still crowded, and the trains jam-packed. My intent was to board a compartment and move right inside, to avoid getting caught in the crosscurrent of commuters desperate to exit and eager to board at the next station.
As I stood taking stock of the situation, a pleasant surprise appeared in the form of a good old co-commuter. We talked for 30 minutes or so, before managing to get on to a 'Double Fast' train and find space to stand between two rows of seats. That was where one could find some comfort, and grab a seat as soon as it fell vacant.
“Remember?” my friend whispered: “We used to offer our seats midway to the standees. Nobody asked us. but we did it out of courtesy. Times have changed; with it manners too. Look at these college students. People as old as their fathers and grandfathers are standing. Is anyone bothered?” I pacified him: “Don't be judgemental”. My friend quipped: “Yeah yeah... You've always been like this. Indifferent and unconcerned!”
At the next station, a passenger got up to disembark. Since my friend declined, I occupied the seat. However, among the new entrants, was a frail old gentleman. I offered my seat to him. My friend couldn't hold his tongue: “Wow.. I am impressed, Sir!'' As if on cue, a student got up: “Uncle, please sit here”. Three other youngsters followed suit.
I turned to my friend: “The new generation grows up observing us, just as we did in our younger days. Be fair to them!''
“Elders who wonder
where the younger generation is going should remember where it came
- Sam Ewing -