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   I wonder where they go... (August 28, 1993)

I wonder where they go. All those people playing cards at V.T. and all those others staring in the camera.

Those thousands and thousands of people who annually participate in the summer exodus (every year it is claimed to be the greatest ever).

But what I would like to know is wherqe they go. Those people who spend days in search of tickets and pull all kinds of strings to get one.

Those people who send their servants to stand in queues and those people who buy their tickets in the black market. The poor gentleman who stood for four days in a queue and at the end of the four days found that he had made no progress as people kept pushing him back.

All those people who travel by trains (specials and regulars) and all those who travel by ships and S.T. buses. All those people who fill in their leave applications because the summer is here and all those people who talk about their "native" places.

Those people who come to me for a ticket in the misguided belief that the general manager of the Central Railway is a personal friend of mine. Those people who bring chits from ministers as if getting a ticket is the same thing as getting a milk card.

I would like to know where they go every summer. Whether they go to Kumbakonam or Renigunta or Arkonam or Trichy or Tiruchirapalli.

Or whether they go to Benares or Akalkot or Allahabad or Bhubaneshwar or some place called Dehri-on-the-Sone (I think there is a place like that).

Or whether they go to Kolhaput or Sholapur or Ratnagiri or Malwan or Sangli or Pandharpur. I am told that some people even go to Panaji and Mapusa and Bardez and Ponda in the Bombay summer.

To describe all this as a summer exodus is one thing.t o place the blame on the railways for not being able to cope with it is quite correct. To quote some railway is doing is normal.

But what I would like to know is where do all these people go. And what I would also like to know is why do all these people come back.

 
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