(As a part of the 'Stories of the Lifeline' series)
The walls of the trains are … a creative playground. The exteriors have been taken over by the marketing gurus as the compartments get covered with posters of Mallika Sherawat kissing a hero whose face we cannot (and do not really want to) see just before her film is about to release.
On the walls, one often sees the paint scraped off so that the words ‘Raj Rahul Rohan, 9.31 local Frands group’ appear written on the walls. No kidding, but I have actually seen ‘Upar dekh’ written on the wall of a train compartment and ‘Upar kya dekhta hai be #$#$#$’ on the ceiling. Youthful perversions manifest themselves in the form of graphical obscenity on these walls – they are best left unspoken about.
If the graffiti is not enough, there are advertisements – posters, large and small. There are Bengali babas advertising their talent to keep away everything from waasna to (intoxicating) rasnaa. And there are photographs of Kekta Kapoor’s Kusum – the Khaas Kahaani or of an undies-clad model showing off lipsticks marks all over his body – encouraging the patrons to get assaulted the way he has been – the only way to do so being wearing that particular brand of underwear. Some advertisements are believably funny. They have amazing statistics quoted for detergents, face soaps or toothpastes (Something like : Other soaps - 0.543% GPPD, Our soap - 0.0023% GPPD. What is GPPD? No one knows.) What’s more, these figures are certified by research laboratories that have abbreviations as funny and ‘familiar’ as the index values they give - something like YWNKITDAE (You Would Never Know If This Dental Association Exists).
I’ve been amused by this amazing advertising strategy of a tiny paper pouch pasted to the wall that has a very stern, assertive and funny ‘Take one’ written on it. (Spycams to check if I took only one?) And when you really dare to take even one of the chits that the pouch contains, it enlightens you about ways to earn 10000-50000Rs. from home and gives you a contact number. Accompanied by a contact person’s name. More often than not, this name is that of a female. (Marketing strategy you know!)
If nothing else, most of the times, the walls of the train compartment are great entertainment. A good respite in a crowded train – only if you manage to see through the crowd during peak hours and take a look at them.