Posted by: kcgadiyar | February 12, 2009

Observations during a train journey – Part 1 (of 2): The Berth Effect

Quick Takes:

  • February seems to be the wedding season, cant open my inbox without receiving an invite to a wedding

  • Scolari fired? Chelsea, what are you thinking?

  • The paperboy seems to have completely forgotten that me and my dad still stay in our home, 12 days without a paper delivery so far

  • Champions league football returns in a week

  • On the Birthday front, Happy Birthday to Meghana, Gayatri, Keemo and Shishir

  • On the wedding front, wishing Phani a Happy Married Life

  • If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?


<!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> So, there I am, on the Kacheguda express from Kacheguda station (which incidentally has the code KCG) ready to go to Bangalore. I specifically book the upper berth for myself everytime I travel and this time was no different.

Having arrived an hour before departure, me and dad decided to sit inside the bogey, once inside we found ourselves completely confused. What had happened was that the 72 seat bogey had been replaced by a 81 seat bogey (the one with a side-middle seat extra). This meant that the seat number I had booked for myself was now a middle berth. You can imagine how baffled I was, the guy who had booked a middle and had now been bumped to top berth looked very happy though. Finally, the new seat numbers were put up and I was back on the upper berth.

In the few minutes before the clarification was issued, the passengers who looked most dismayed were the upper-berthers, and the ones who looked most happy were the people who had been bumped to the upper berth.

What is it about the upper berth? I am pretty sure that if you generally surveyed a 20-something working person and asked which berth they book in a train, I guarantee that 80%+ of the time, the answer will be “upper berth”. Why? I don’t know the answer, but here is what I think.

Solitude, I feel is one of the main reasons. You are stuck in a segment with 8 other people whom you don’t know and probably will never see again. You are absolutely not interested in striking up a conversation with the people there, and would much rather they leave you alone as well. But, with most journeys taking more than 12 hours, it is inevitable that they will try and start a conversation, so the upper berth is the best place to be. No one will try to talk there, so feel free to curl up with a book and doze off.

Space, is the second reason. In India, trains are crowded, overly so. There has been a journey from Indore to Mumbai when 16 people sat in seats meant for 8 (and this is in sleeper class). If you have a lower berth, you have no place to escape to, you can’t even go off to sleep until the middle berther decides to, you are stuck with so many people travelling on RAC who decide that sitting on the seats till 9:30 in the night is perfectly acceptable.

If you have the upper berth though, it’s much simpler. When you feel that the seats are getting too crowded, all you have to do is go up, and sleep or read a book. That space is yours, and no one will try to come and sit there.

Safety is the third reason. The upper berth just feels safer, no one is going to attempt to steal your luggage if its chained to the upper berth. It has a cozier and safer feeling, you are sure that its not going to collapse, which is a fear the person on the middle-berth might have. And more importantly, you are sure that the seat wont collapse on YOU, which is a fear that the lower-berth carries with it.

There are many more reasons I am sure, but these are the ones that immediately pop to mind. Agree/disagree? Let me know.

Until next time,




  1. Dude…I had forgotten abt u shifting…
    Cool stuff as usual!

    Hey,why don’t you cross post?

  2. I always prefer the upper berth…privacy being the first reason…and I can go up and nap anytime I want, or just read books or whatever…
    also I want to keep my interactions with my co-passengers to bare minimum.

  3. @Vikas: Hi dude, accessing multiply is very slow from the deloitte network, have no idea why. Hence no crossposts.

  4. Read a book?

    Don’t you hate it when people in the lower births insist on switching off the lights as soon as 10 pm ? It is a pity, not many of those went to b-schools. 10 pm ? That’s when the day begins for a typical mba-type !

    Liked the post. 🙂

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