V. WOES OF THIRD
At Burdwan we came face to face with the hardships
that a third class passenger has to go through even in
securing his ticket.'Third class tickets are not booked
so early,' we were told. I went to the Station Master,
though that too was a difficult business. Someone kindly
directly me to where he was, and I represented to him our
difficulty. He also made the same reply. As soon as the
booking window opened, I went to purchase the tickets.
But it was no easy thing to get them. Might was right,
and passengers, who were forward and indifferent to
others, coming one after another, continued to push me
out. I was therefore about the last of the first crowd to
get a ticket.
The train arrived, and getting into it was another
trial. There was a free exchange of abuse and pushes
between passengers already in the train and those trying
to get in. We ran up and down the platform, but were
everywhere met with the same reply: 'No room here.' I
went to the guard. He said, 'You must try to get in where
you can or take the next train.'
'But I have urgent business,' I respectfully replied.
He had no time to listen to me. I was disconcerted. I
told Maganlal to get in wherever possible, and I got into
an inter-class compartment with my wife. The guard saw us
getting in. At Asansol station he came to charge us
excess fares. I said to him:
'It was your duty to find us room. We could not get
any, and so we are sitting here. If you can accommodate
us in a third class compartment, we shall be only too
glad to go there.'
'You may not argue with me,' said the guard. 'I cannot
accommodate you. You must pay the excess fare, or get
I wanted to reach Poona somehow. I was not therefore
prepared to fight the guard. so I paid the excess fare he
demanded, i.e., up to Poona. But I resented the
In the morning we reached Mogalsarai. Maganlal had
managed to get a seat in the third class, to which I now
and asked him to give me a certificate to the effect that
I had shifted to a third class compartment at Mogalsarai.
This he declined to do. I applied to the railway
authorities for redress, and got a reply to this effect:
'It is not our practice to refund excess fares without
the production of a certificate, but we make an exception
in your case. It is not possible, however, to refund the
excess fare from Burdwan to Mogalsarai.'
Since this I have had experiences of third class
travelling which, if I wrote them all down, would easily
fill a volume. But I can only touch on them causally in
these chapters. It has been and always will be my
profound regret that physical incapacity should have
compelled me to give up third class travelling.
The woes of third class passengers are undoubtedly due
to the high- handedness of railway authorities. But the
rudeness, dirty habits, selfishness and ignorance of the
passengers themselves are no less to blame. The pity is
that they often do not realize that they are behaving
ill, dirtily or salfishly. They believe that everything
they do is in the natural way. All this may be traced to
the indifference towards them of us 'educated' people.
We reached Kalyan dead tried. Maganlal and I got some
water from the station water-pipe and had our bath. As I
was proceeding to arrange for my wife's bath, Sjt Kaul of
the Servants of India Society recognizing us came up. He
too was going to Poona. He offered to take my wife to the
second class bath room. I hesitated to accept the
courteous offer. I knew that my wife had no right to
avail herself of the second class bathroom, But I
ultimately connived at the impropreity. This, I know,
does not become a votary of truth. Not that my wife was
eager to use the bath room, but a husband's partiality
for his wife got the better of his partiality for truth.
The face of truth is hidden behind the golden veil of
#maya#, says the Upanishad.