Confident girls at the doors of the new fledgling train stand with folded hands to welcome passengers. Frantic travelers surround them to take selfies and photographs. Mobile cameras click without her permission and she shrinks, shrinks.
She remains a smile on her face despite being uncomfortable with this unwanted attraction. This view is of platform 9 of New Delhi railway station where Tejas Express is ready to leave for Lucknow.
Dressed in tight-fitting black-yellow body, the girls are the hostesses of this first private train in India. The recently launched Tejas Express is in the hands of IRCTC, the only private company of Indian Railways.
Shweta Singh from Lucknow is very excited about this new job. With a smile on her face, she says, I am proud to work on Tejas, the first private train in the country. We are the first women in India who are hostesses on the train. I am living my dream
She says, we meet new travelers every day, talk, it feels good. People of all kinds meet, giving them satisfactory service is the biggest challenge.
20 coach crew like Shweta are deployed in ten coaches of Tejas Express. All of them have done diploma in Aviation Hospitality and Customer Service from an institute in Lucknow. All these are not employees of IRCTC, but their services are being availed through another private company.
Three round selection process
Shweta says, we got this job after three rounds of selection process. My family is proud that I am working on Tejas Express. Vaishali Jaiswal, originally from Unnao, is decorating the service trolley. He too had prepared to become air hostess like Shweta. She considers her work to be similar to that of an air hostess.
Vaishali says, the work that we do in the aircraft cabin crew. The difference is that air hostesses work in the air, we are on track. She says, we are on a moving train and situations can be challenging at times here. We have been trained to deal with them.
Lesson for further
Anshika Gupta is holding the service trolley with full confidence in the fast moving and moving dull train. Till now Indian men were doing these tasks only. Anshika says, we are still learning. This is the first time in India, girls like us are serving on the train. Our lessons learned will come in handy.
Most of the crew members of this train are around the age of 20 years and are from middle class families. This use of privatization in railways has created job opportunities for them. Anshika says, my mother always used to say that I will do something, she is very happy to see me here now.
Problems caused by making videos
The most challenging for train hostesses is the behavior of people who take pictures or make videos without being asked. Many passengers call, says Sumbul, and already keep the camera on. We are serving them and they are making our video. We don’t like it, but we can’t say anything.
Simran, who joined the crew two days ago, says that these girls have a very good chance to prove themselves. But sometimes the behavior of the passengers makes it uncomfortable. She says, our videos are made without asking, which can go viral and we may face problems in front of the family.
Sandhya has a problem with the producer of such videos. She says, people go live on Facebook, make videos for TikTok, post it on YouTube without our consent. It is a new train, says train manager Shubhangi. There is a lot of excitement inside people taking pictures with the train and with our hostesses. But this makes our hostesses uncomfortable.