ANOTHER TRAIN JOURNEY

ORIGIN: KOTA

DESTINATION: NEW DELHI
TRAIN: SARVODAYA EXPRESS
TIME: SEVEN HOURS

After the delay of an hour we got on the train. Our seats were occupied by some others as is the norm in such trains. But to see 19 people apart from us three in a compartment was some sort of a shock. People were sitting on the space between the two sleeper berths and on the aisle also.

We requested the ‘uncle’ to get up and as it turned out his entire family was occupying our seats.

“See, we are respectable people. We don’t cause problems to others. And if you want us to get up we will.”Having said this the ‘uncle’ kept sitting. Again we asked him to get up. But he told something to same effect and kept sitting.

Luckily after 5 minutes or so the TTE came along and we atleast got a place to sit-although I was isolated from my friends and sharing seats with someone else. Actually the others were waitlisted passengers which did not make it to RAC or confirm list. Still they sat. Still as was evident all these people had really urgent things to attend to and thats why the TTE I guess was lineant. I am enlisting some of our co-passengers:

1.The ‘uncle’ and his family were going to arrange I guess their daughter’s marriage. But tell me why their entire family was accommodating them?

2.There were two boys around the age of 20 years. They occupied the aisle. They had kept the lights on throughout the night as they were studying for their POLICE FORCE Examination (I am forgetting the exact name.) Hats off to them for even attempting to concentrate.

3. There was this farmer with his goat. He seemed to be accompanying a blind beggar. He was the most annoying person. He did not get down on the platform just before his village but pulled the chain moments later and got down in front of his hut. Lazy people!

It was one of those train journeys I would rather forget. We were up the whole night and bored to the core.

EXTRACTS FROM A BUS TRIP

I had just alighted from a flight en-route Balasore.

GAMES TO PLAY IN AN AIRPORT

This photo speaks for itself(and the sub-heading). It is quite blurred because these kids were moving on this trollley at dangerous speeds and my phone’s camera is not all that great. Plus there is a third kid who had to do all the pushing.

I wish I had made a video because then you could have seen how this vehicle was avoiding humans, luggages , pillars, beautiful air-hostesses and other trolleys as well.

SWEAT AND AN ODE TO SNAKE-CHARMERS IN INDIAN FILMS

The bus in which I was making this trip had a driver who was a man of his principles. Actually his only principle that I came to know was that the TV in the bus would only be on if the AC was off. So for half the journey all the passengers had to cope up with a video on the TV that showed songs from Indian movies with snake-charmers as heroes and usually another snake -charmer as the villain. And the snake would always be the heroine. No points for guessing why?

It was a quite aboring show though almost all the villagers travelling in the village were catured by pure cinematic joy. I mean how can people enjoy this. Here’s a scene.

Aamir Khan(I did not know he had ever played a snake-charmer) and Juhi Chawla were dancing away. Then night fell and they lit a fire. Aamir was warming himself near the fire. Then Juhi appeared on the scene and bit her lip which was a sort of a symbol for Aamir. He then leaves the fire having found another source of heat and joins Juhi and ….

All this was done to the tune of a been or pungi(an instrument played by snake-charmers). Weird!!!

AC AND A GIRL

Finally half the trip was finished and the AC was on. And this beautiful girl gets on the bus and guess what?. Occupies the seat next to me. Okay. I had at least two hours. So I could talk with her, impress her, modernise her (if she is a small-town girl), exchange phone numbers…. Actions speak louder than words dude. So just as I was mustering up all my courage to break the ice, she starts crying. I have not spoken as yet girl why are you crying? Is there a problem with my aura itself?

“Why are you crying?” I asked.

“No it is nothing.” she said.

“Okay so you cry just like that. ”

I don’t know why but that made her smile. Girls, when they cry and smile at the same time, look really good.

After a while, “Can you give me the window seat?See I always vomit everytime I travel by bus…,”she asked, still looking down. As soon as I heard the word vomit, I had gotten up to exchange the seat.After this exhange I thought the ice was broken and I should talk further but just then…

“Can I use your phone? I have to talk with someone and I don’t have balance.”

Hey this girl was being too much now. God knows how long she will talk. Nevertheless I gave her the phone. All my fears were allayed when she typed a Vodafone number as Vodafone to Vodafone is free. Yipeee!!

“Please try to understand,” she was talking on the phone and I could not stop myself from overhearing. “I was not in town that day. Yeah, I am coming there. No you don’t go. We will talk first.We just can’t end like this.”

Was she talking with her boy-friend?

She said the three magic words just before returning the phone and simultaneously clearing all my doubts once and for all.

Lover nahin toh Good Samaritan hi sahi!

CATCHING A RUNNING BUS

I went down to a shop to have a cold drink when this bus had stopped for a break. I had not finished when this bus started moving. And I ran(I usually avoid running. I don’t look good while running.) I had all my original certificates in my luggage which was now on the bus. Why was not the conductor stopping the bus seeing a stranded passenger running. He made a sign for me to catch the bus running. I ran with all I had and finally near the door I made this jump onto the doorstep. The feeling of going from the speed I was running to the speed of the bus in milliseconds is a feeling everyone should feel sometime.The acceleration was intoxicating. People in metro cities do it everyday though.

SPIDERMAN DID NOT DO THIS

The bus was overloaded by the time we reached Balasore. The conductor was hanging out of the bus literally gripping only to one of the handles on the bus. What a feeling must that be! The girl was sitting two windows away from the door. The conductor made a mini-trip then. He held onto the windows and came to the second window to make the transaction as he had not yet taken money from the girl- all this when the bus is in motion. Plus there was not a bit of fear in his face or eyes that he will ever lose grip and consequently his life. He also returned to the door safely.

And finally I reached Balasore.

HAPS & MISHAPS IN INDIAN TEMPLES

LOOK OUT!
My mother and I had been to this temple today. As it was Monday there was this huge rush in the temple and there were about a hundred to two hundred people in the room where the Ling was there. The floor was slippery because of a large number of mashed bananas which were supposed to be for the God. Finally both of us managed to get near the God and my mom stood near the corner while I stood beside.

Just then the priest who was standing still till then turned around ….

“Look out, ” I shouted.

But the priest had already smashed the coconut on the wall inches away from my mom’s face. OMG. Beware guys.

BURNING SAREES & BOUNDLESS FAITH
The following image showcases seemingly innocuous objects called diyas/deeps but can be fatal at times.

These are called diyas or deeps.

 

A lady’s saree’s (for all the non-Indian readers its a clothing Indian women wear) end caught fire and slowly burnt its way up but the devoted lady was busy chanting prayers with eyes closed. Anyone would feel that the saree was on fire but this woman was so much into her prayers that she did not seem to notice at first. Finally she did notice when the priest threw a bucket of water at her. The woman obviously was too taken aback by the fire burning out that she fainted.

Amazingly till she was praying she seemed fine. As they say, ignorance is bliss.

FORGIVE & FORGET
People give their offerings to God on this huge round bronze plate. It is usually filled with lots and lots of coins and a few random notes usually those that are torn or crumpled if you notice closely. I was just looking around while my mother finished her prayers and my eyes fell on this lady. Her fingers (and consequently she) were upto no good. She was faking as if she was putting a coin on the plate but actually she was taking away coins. She did this for about two to three times. Quite a thief !

But then all of a sudden she took out those collected coins and kept them back on the plate and looked around for people noticing her great offering because people usually give one or two rupees. God for this lady will forgive and forget.

 

ROOM CRICKET

HISTORY

In the 21st century a couple of bored Bansalites started out with this game. The task was simple to convert cricket from being a 75 yard field game to it being played in an average-sized room. They started playing with this clip-board for a bat, a rolled paper-ball for a ball and a bucket for a wicket. Obviously that paper ball did not bounce at all, so all balls had to be full-tosses. Very repetitive indeed.So they had to leave this mundane arrangement. These guys simply put cellotape on the paper ball which at least made it possible for it to bounce. After that there was no stopping them. Hours were spent sweating it out in the room. And fans had to be switched off as you know any aerial stroke then ended up being a threat for the lamp, tube-light, clock and etc etc which were saved many times from damage because of uber-quick reflexes of some players. The popularity of the game spread and the entire PG ended up playing it(even the nerds ended up here around 2 am sometimes.)Sometimes they had visiting players from neighbouring PGs as well.

THE PAPER BALL(As preserved in the Museum for Room Cricket , Rudra’s Room ,Trivedi Gardens made by the founders themselves.)


EQUIPMENT

1.BAT- Clipboard or a bat-like structure used to clean clothes or sometimes a real bat
2.BALL-Cellotaped paperballs, Smiley Stress Balls(great bounce and sometimes they spun as well.)
3.WICKET-Bucket or sometimes two buckets to give bowlers a good chance.
4.TOWELS- These were the most important because it got really sweaty.
5.BOUNDARY ROPE-The wall at the opposite end.

THE SMILEY STRESS BALL(Introduced by Apu. Available at any stationers for a price varying from Rs 10 – Rs 20)


SKILLS & RULES

Same as the usual cricket.

AWARDS
1.Most Unforgettable Moment Award – Debi(Myself) and Gunjan Misra. I smacked the ball with which Gunjan had promised by his life to get me bowled straight into the tube light and it rained glass and white powder leaving us in sheer darkness.

2.Best Commentator Award- Satvik. He has the best commentating skills and includes vernacular proverbs that make it so funny and enjoyable.(Once a match was abandoned as no one could stop laughing.)

3.Best Camerawork- These matches and the commentary on them were recorded on Apu‘s phone mostly by Rudra.

4. Best Spinner Award – Robin. He really spins it a lot with that stress ball.

5.Most Damages Award – Debi . I somehow ended up breaking the walls of the PG a lot of times. (Sorry Uncleji for all that noise and bits of walls missing in Rudra‘s room.)

This post is now available to be put in any physical education book for 12th class.

OF HYPOCRITES AND BISECTED CURRENCY NOTES

It was swelteringly hot and five more people stood in front of us in the line at the Vigyan Nagar Post Office. The line was static. Why? The man at the counter said whatever may be the case they won’t take letters or parcel during his lunch hours even if he just sat and chat with his colleagues.

Just then three ladies entered the scene.

“Oh My God! What a long line ! ,” said Lady A.
“Don’t Worry,” said Lady B. “There must be a separate line for women. Since there is none now , we will make one.”

Saying this she had started a line for women. There was a protest from a person ( obviously bearing a different set of chromosomes) but that was snubbed down easily by the threesome.Other ladies also followed suit as in a game of hearts. My friend Rudra and me were left flabbergasted.

“It is such a waste of time for students when they have to come by themselves to post their forms. I wish the Institute would do something for these students. It would save a lot of time and…” Lady C did not seem to think it proper to keep her conversation private or short.

Suddenly an idea clicked. I went up to Lady B ( the most vulnerable looking) and said ,”Aunty , Can you post the form for me when you are posting yours. A lot of time would be saved. Please Aunty,” in my most flattering voice.

“Son, it would be injustice on others standing here if I did this for you. It would be wrong and you are…”

I cut her short. “Thanks a lot, Aunty, anyways” with a lot of stress on the word Aunty.Hypocrites. She had a chance to save my time but no… justice, truth and what not to cover up.

Five minutes later when the counter opened there was some confusion there. Lady B came out of line, in her hand she held half a twenty-rupee note. I say half cause it had so dexterously torn into two halves(one of which she held) that it seemed that it was a note that was folded in half.

See you can’t tell whether its folded in half or cut into two halves till you feel which our lady here was too preoccupied to
notice.

“That potato-vendor. I will kill him today. Look at the rascal…., ” said Lady B although she was using language that forbade the use of the title.

Serves her right for being so obsessed with justice.

“Thank God, it was not a hundred rupee note,” said Lady A as the trio left the post-office.

Now just look at the economics involved. The potato vendor if he got away with the other half he gets away with a total of twenty plus twenty forty rupees. So a profit of twenty rupees if that note was his and a profit of forty rupees if he had found it and also the idea of not discarding it.

SNIPPETS FROM AN INDIAN TRAIN JOURNEY

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.

Style 1
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.

Style 2
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.

Style 3
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.

A HYPERNATIONALISTIC INDIAN – PART 2

EDUCATION

I am back today after a two-day trip to my village. My first day there was mostly spent with a Mr. Mishra whose job is to set up free schools for tribal girls in that district. He is a very enterprising man just entering his forties and also very knowledgeable too. He was telling me about the new school he had set up in our village.

“Building a school and getting teachers and other functionaries is the easiest part of having a school here. It’s getting students to study that’s really difficult. I had to employ five men to go around neighbouring villages to gather students. We managed to get about thirty girls who agreed to attend school. But after the first day the attendance dropped to fifty percent.”

“Why did that happen?”

“The girls said they felt hungry and could not sit for such long hours at a stretch. So we decided to give them a couple of breaks of fifteen minutes. We also got our school registered in the Free Afternoon meal programme. But these girls never stopped complaining. They did not want dal and rice everyday. Let me tel you my friend these girls come from families where they only eat two times a day. Still I hung on with them and had them egg and chicken given on alternate days. I am ready to do anything my friend only if they agree to study. But these girls don’t seem to be doing anything remotely associated with studying. After a month also, there were lots of them who could not start with the alphabet.I told them that they won’t get good marks and one asks me “Sir what shall we do with marks? We can’t eat them or live in them.”Then these girls made a group and told that it hurt them to walk all the way to school and they were too tired to concentrate at night. So I arranged a vehicle who would collect all these girls to school and drop them later.”

“That is so good of you Mr. Mishra. Now these girls must be studying and …”

Mr . Mishra cut me short.

“These girls are nothing short of scoundrels. They came to me again in a group and told they can’t study. It’s not that they were not given opportunities. They just can’t study. None of them wants to try even.”

“Then, what did you do?”

“I called them for a last lesson last Tuesday. My friend who was in the local theater group agreed to help me out. He and two of his colleagues staged a play in which they showed an illiterate girl being exploited in the market: buying overpriced stuff, not being able to know and identify weights and so on. The girls realized then the purpose of education. Next day there was full attendance.”

You just can’t force things on people even if it is for their own good. Self-realization is very important if any such endeavour has to take a practical shape.

And education needs to be backed with purpose. Education without purpose is useless – similar to teaching a tribal girl The Theory of Relativity.