Saturday, February 23, 2008

Observations in the Bangalore-Chennai Rail Journey

Just wanted to record my thoughts on 2 things that one commonly observes in the train journey between Chennai-Bangalore in a general compartment day time travel. One is the nuisance by the transgender community and the other is about the vendors selling fruits, vegetables and other assorted items like toys, books and stuffs.

This nuisance by the transgender community has increased alarmingly in proportion. It has almost become a definite thing to encounter a Hijra twice (once leaving Chennai and once while entering Bangalore). They ask for money and when the person (usually young males are the target) refuses to give them money, they turn quite abusive. They literally demand that they are given at-least 10Rs. The police or the railway authorities do not seem to have any control over these peoples entry into the train. Once, I was even told by the ticket examiner that even when he interferes they can turn nasty at them.

If the transgender community wants to gain social acceptability, they as a community needs to do something about this.

As regards vendors most of the commuters welcome their presence. People get to buy fruits and vegetables of the local produce at a much cheaper price than what they would pay in Chennai or Bangalore. As they do not sell fresh ready to eat food their business does not pose any competition to the Indian Railways Catering (IRCTC) as well. But, unfortunately these people are harassed as illegal travelers. Instead, these people can be given licenses making their sales an approved one. Infact, the government can offer such licenses on priority to physically handicapped individuals, under-privileged people and members of some self-help women group and members who has been in service on the route for a long period of time.

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