Indian trains are so filled with characters to be studied, situations to be observed and time to be killed when the train fails to make it on time. Here is what I went through recently.
1. Games Daddy Plays on a Departing Train
Morning 6 AM. I decided to sleep as soon as I got myself a seat. But a wailing kid was not letting me snooze. The train had just begun to move and surprisingly as fast as the train was picking up speed, this kid’s lamentations were increasing in volume. Almost every person was now glued to this child.
“Papa. Papa.” This is what the boy’s sobs were punctuated with. Where is this guy ‘s father?
His mom was nonchalantly smiling at everyone else. Why don’t you console your child?
“How will Papa come now mama? The train is moving so fast,” staring at the end of the aisle.
“Papa can come son. He will.You see.”
“No he won’t.” And he starts crying at the top of his voice.
From the opposite end, a man who was standing there till then comes in smiling as if he loved the wail. Slowly and suavely he marched down the aisle. He went up to this kid and lifted him- simultaneously silencing the boy. The dad I guess.
“How did you come on this train? It is moving so fast.”
“Daddy can do anything, son.”
At least that silenced the kid.
2. Don’t buy a Newspaper
Never ever buy a newspaper on a train. The entire compartment thinks the newspaper to be theirs. And if you are in a Janshatabdi where an entire compartment is the bogie itself you are in for infringements in your reading of the daily news. But those who do so do it in style and with elan.
The man next to you is the most dangerous. He starts reading the news loudly with his comments and views. Then he starts taking away the news page by page without your permission. Then forcefully asks about your thoughts and when you say you have none, he looks at you with an air of intellect you can never aspire to achieve.
The man in the seat behind you. He is on the alert for the moment you keep the newspaper down. He attacks you straight away and takes it without even deigning to ask.
The man in the who you notice does not want to sit even though empty seats abound around him is also quite a piece. He approaches you slowly as if approaching his date and asks “Do you have the newspaper?” and if you answer in the negative “But you were reading it a moent ago.”
Such people really have awesome observation skills.
3. A Himesh Reshammiya Fan
Friends, this species is not yet extinct.
Fan: Don’t you enjoy HR. HR- He’s a Rockstar..
I: No, I don’t. He is very repetitive and ..
Fan:Repetitive? HR is not repetitive. That is the last thing anyone would say about HR. Did not you hear the latest hit Tandoori Nights.
He plays the song mentioned on his Made in China phone.
Fan(in unison with the ROCKSTAR) : Tan Tana Tan Tana Tan Tandoori Nights. See the freshness in the tone and lyrics. Tan Tana Tan …
I: Yeah, right. As fresh as a tandoori out of the grill, na?
Fan: How rightly said. HR is all about passion….
And finally ended his sermon with “JAI MATA DI.”
4.Translating Hindi Songs
The train was filled with lots of people who had these chic China cells. And almost all of them had put their favourite number on the playlist playing loudly. Most of these were either old hindi or new oriya songs. I decided to translate one. Saat samundar paar…..
Here is what I came up with at the end.
Seven seas across,
I came over to fuss,
Following you everywhere,
You are such a villain,
That all my beauty goes in vain.
Does not make much sense yet importantly it rhymed.
5. What is IIT?
When you are travelling with a lot of people from rural parts. you do have odd conversations. This guy asked me , “What are you doing- as in working or studying?”
“I have given my exam for IIT and am…”
“What is IIT?”
I was taken aback for a second. Speechless.How are you supposed to give the full feel about something which you are over-obsessed with?
I mumbled, ” It is a really good college – the best in India- in which you take admission after 12th.”
I think that much should be enough. Beyond that there would be complications.
6.A Train Change
On our return trip …..
Our train had stopped at this really insignificant station and a really scruffy voice shouts,”All passenegers on train number —-( I don’t remember) Baripada Express are hereby informed to get onto train number —- (not this also) Sambalpur Express as the former train won’t go further due to an engine failure. Please bear with us.”
And within a span of five eventful minutes an entire train had emptied itself of its passengers who had occupied another train that could not be described to anything as close as empty. This Express had changed into a local train with more people standing than sitting. Our mini-trip ended on this train after another 15 minutes.