On a train travelling from Bombay to Chennai, two drivers sit on opposite sides of the coach.
“It’s like a chess match,” says Aruna, who is in her 20s.
“When the coach goes past, I’m waiting for it to stop.
When it goes past again, I want to get off.
That’s what makes it difficult.”
The conversation is an echo of a similar one she had with a passenger in her 30s when she worked as a train driver.
“A lot of the time I’m talking to the passengers who are waiting to board the train.
I have to keep in mind that some of them have very strong opinions,” she says.”
But when the train arrives, I don’t get to see them, and I don, because they are sitting on their seats.
They don’t have to wait for the coach to stop at all, they just have to sit.”
A woman sitting in the coach stands next to a man on the other side of the carriage.
He is an engineer and has a beard.
“He’s a man from Maharashtra.
I’m sure he’s also a railway enthusiast,” she adds.
A woman sits in the train carriages.
Photo courtesy of The Times Of IndiaA man sitting in a train carriage.
Photo by: Manish Sharma”I’m trying to be a gentleman,” she tells the woman seated next to her.
“If you’re sitting there with your face to the ground, you have to behave yourself.
If you’re going to sit on the edge of the seat, then it’s the train driver’s responsibility.”
She says this attitude is not uncommon among drivers and train operators.
“There are lots of train drivers who are not nice.
There are many people who think that the drivers and trains are different, and they have no problems.
The driver has to work with his eyes open, and is not afraid of anyone,” she said.
When I asked the driver about his attitude towards the passengers sitting on the coach, he said, “There is a lot of negativity and anger in our minds.”
He added, “I have to be careful with these passengers.
I am a good person, but I cannot allow people to act badly.”
An engineer on a train from Delhi to Mumbai.
Photo Courtesy of The India TodayThe driver, who has a thick Indian accent, is quick to clarify that he is not a bully.
“Some people say that I should be more tolerant.
I think the passengers and train are one and the same.
But there are a lot who act in a different way.”
What he did not specify was the reason for his change in attitude.
He did not give an example.
He didn’t want to offend anyone.
The drivers and passengers who sit next to him say the attitude is the same on many train lines.
“I am used to this,” says an engineer from Bihar.
“On many lines, drivers are rude, aggressive and rude, and there are also other passengers.
But it is a different world in many parts of the country.”
A driver from Bihar on a Delhi-Mumbai train.
Photo: Manjula BhattaraiThe drivers of other trains also seem to be surprised by the change in behaviour.
A driver from Maharashtra on a Mumbai-Delhi train has been sitting in an open carriage for over two years, waiting for the train to go by.
He says that he doesn’t get a chance to talk to passengers.
“But in the morning, there are lots to talk about,” he said.
“They all get angry and feel disappointed.
I can’t understand how they can behave like that.”
The driver also told me that the passengers do not ask for seats, which he said is not unusual on many trains.
“People want to sit in the front.
The seats are there for the journey, so they just sit there.
But we all sit together.
The passengers do have to respect our seats, and it is their choice.”
He added that the driver has a lot to do in the mornings, and when he gets off the train, he takes the passengers to the car.
“This is my job.
I cannot do anything else.
I want the passengers on the train and I want them to enjoy the journey.”
In Delhi, the drivers are not bothered by the passengers, but they do have a message for the passengers.
“On many trains, there is no etiquette or etiquette.
Sometimes, the passengers act like they are not passengers at all.
Some passengers are so rude, that I have never seen them behave like passengers before.
When I ask them to sit down, they look at me with hostility.
If we had the seats reserved for them, they would have sat down already,” he told me.
“So I tell them to wait till the train leaves for its destination, and we will take them to their seat.”
A man in a coach on a suburban