When reality seems to be blurring

The Indian Railways promises us a unique experience every time we travel. This time around, the experience came during a trip to Coimbatore, en route to Ooty, to cool us down before our results. First, the train looked extremely odd, as if the guys in charge of ‘colouring’ it decided to use psychedelic patterns seen by ‘stimulated’ people.

Surprises were not limited to the external appearance. The inside of the allegedly executive class compartment bore a strange resemblance to the subway connecting Central Station and Government General Hospital. Given my luck, it was no surprise that the adjacent seat was occupied by a man who personified a particular stereotype.

We were offered drinks. Here again the Railways played with my senses adding strength to my ‘psychedelic express theory’. I could have sworn that the man said it was ‘Coffee’; I was certain it smelled like coffee; most of the neurons in my visual cortex reckoned it looked like coffee. But the moment I took a sip, I realised I was ‘illusionating’. It tasted just like Rail-Neer albeit, a bit warm. We were then served different versions of Rail-Neer masquerading as Sambhar, Dhal and even Paneer Butter Masala. This was followed by more sensory mismatches. We were subjects of some top secret Government initiative to distort senses making a seemingly normal person question his sanity? Or was it just disregard for quality and plain bad cooking?

To err may be human, but to err is not a human right. This bad trip aboard the psychedelic express was definitely not right.

Sai Sriram. S, Madras Medical College

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