Life of Sushma Hondeokar, a 42-year-old railway announcer, is different. 24/7, she has totally immersed herself in her official role and it is impossible to tell when she comes out of it. Ask her family! Her kin, while talking to her, often feel that they are listening to a railway announcement! Hondeokar has been working with the Central Railways for about 13 years. The one sentence that she is used to say more than any other over the past decade: Namaskar, hum kendriya soochna prasaran kaksh se bol rahein hain. Ek vishesh soochna ki or dhyaan dijiye (I am speaking from the central announcement department.) As per a report by Indian Express, her family members believe that while she does not bring her work home, but that the announcer’s tone that definitely follows her everywhere.
As per reports, Hondeokar, along with six male colleagues, work at the Central Railway announcement office located in CST in Mumbai. Explaining details of her job, Hondeokar told Indian Express, “If a train is coming to a particular platform on a railway station, the announcers at that station make the announcement. If a train is going to be late at all railway stations, we make the announcement. Basically, anything that will impact things on all stations across central and harbour lines is announced by us.”
Not just train arrivals and delays, Hondeokar and her team make other announcements such as missing children being found on stations, information about special trains and slogans. These slogans include alerts to keep an eye on unattended luggage, avoid crossing railway tracks, allow people to get off trains first and others.
Though these announcements are meant to help travellers, however, the announcers get complaints targetted at them too! People living close to these railway station often complain about the noise pollution caused due to these announcements.
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Speaking about these complaints, another announcer S A Parashare said, “All railway stations have different decibel levels. Dadar, for example, has so much noise that we have to keep the volume high, or commuters won’t get to hear anything at all. GTB Nagar is quiet and hence we keep the volume low. But if the volume is very low, people could miss out on important announcements.”
While most of these announcements are made in Hindi, English and Marathi, the announcers have to go through a pronunciation test before they are moved to this department. “So many people depend on what you say. The pronunciations have to be accurate. We were asked to read in all three languages before we got the job,” Hondeokar said.