Somehow I have always found it inappropriate to bore people with my travel escapades but can’t resist putting to words this exceptional experience. Now that you have decided to read through this post let me briefly do what I love doing the most- talk about myself (as a traveler this time). I am a man of very few words . Unlike many,I avoid striking conversations with co passengers . It feels good to just gaze out of the window thinking about my next blog J. And there is always a respite in the music of the collection of songs that I carry in my mobile. More so a notion has gotten into my head that women fall for men who speak less J . Not that I am always on the lookout , but trains are the most promising platforms to bump into some beauties. The idea gets strength from the numerous success stories that my friends have shared over a period of time. I haven’t met success yet but as they say “one should never lose hope”.
It happened when I boarded the train back to Mumbai from Ranchi after spending my vacations. After the emotional adieu that my mother had to offer (I ensured it to be a low key thing), in the hope of a rendezvous with some lovely work of art by the Almighty ,I scanned through the passenger list, hoping to defy my usual journey bad luck,eagerly looking for any signs of F 23-30 ( I have raised my age limitsJ) only to find a F8 and M9, F35,M38, M 48,M50, M60,F58…. There you go!! I knew how my journey was going to be. With a heavy heart I got myself seated and donned the usual “Angry Young Man” look. The recently grown “Sarkar Raj” style moustache finally touched up the look .Without making an attempt to exchange greetings with the co passengers I had my ear phone plugging me out from the outside noise of the stupid games that the kids were playing so joyfully. I am always intrigued what makes the kids do these stunts in the railway compartments. I never indulged in these activities as a kid. . And even if my brother and I tried to, a stare from my father was enough for us to get back to Chacha Chaudhary and Billu. “These new parents should know how to discipline their kids” I thought and tried giving an irritated look to the mother of the two who was busy picking out oil laden puris from the huge mountain of eatables she had packed for the entire family. “No use”I shrugged.
On the other side sat two middle aged men with pan masala stuffed up their mouths. They seemed to be engrossed in an animated conversation. I got curious and took the earplug out . Yes,my guess was right. It was the usual political discussion that had gotten both these gentlemen so charged up. People in this part of the country are never short of opinions. So one of these gentlemen had a word or two to offer to the Bihar CM. Poor Mr. Nitish, he missed those words of wisdomJ. Their conversation meandered from Nitish to Dhoni to Bipasha Basu and finally came down to the Mayor elections in Dhanbad.
Gentleman 1: “Are is baar Dhanbad k mayor elecsson me kisko bhot diye?? Srivastav ko ki Jhaji ko???
Gentleman 2: “ Aur kisko denge, apna jaat bhai ko diye hain….kaahe tum kisko diye??
Gentleman 1(with a smile): “Nechural hai” (It’s obvious, no need to ask)
I smiled. Don’t know why. Just when I was about to re plug myself to the wonderful world of music I exchanged glances with an old man who was constantly looking at me. I cursed myself for the immediate reaction of smiling to him. “Oh God, now I will have to talk to him and wear a plastic smile for atleast an hour”. He started with a normal “Kahan padhte ho beta”? And then what followed was a series of similar questions. By the time I was answering questions related to family his wife had joined the conversation. Thankfully they recognized the name of my college which was quite rare. Incidentally their elder son had passed out from the same college and was working with a multinational in Mumbai whom they were visiting. Surprisingly I survived the conversation much longer than I had expected and found it not that boring J Sensing the silence, I excused myself and climbed on to the upper berth. And then it was Sonu Nigam all the way J .
A sudden commotion woke me up to find that the old couple I had chatted with was in a heated argument with a few men. I leaned down to learn that the seat numbers had been reshuffled thanks to Lalu ji’s innovative idea of adding an extra seat on the side. So the original seat numbers got all jumbled up. One gentleman had carried out the math and taken the lead to put people at their new locations. The old man resisted and so the heated discussion. By the time I could grasp the matter; the men had started mishandling the old man and displaced his luggage. The old couple looked up at me; whereas all I could utter was ” Are bhaiya,buzurg hain…zara aaram se baat karo”. The old couple was displaced and all were settled in their new locations but the desperate look on the couple’s face started to haunt me. "I should have done something". I hated myself for the inaction.
Unusual things happen with Indian railways. The AC of the compartment stopped working. After numerous attempts to repair, the crew decided to shift the passengers to an empty coach in Nagpur. As I was getting down I saw the old couple struggling with their luggage. I bent down to lift his suitcase when the old man caught a glimpse of me. I could just manage an unconvincing smile...