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Monday, July 10, 2006

Bringing People Closer!

When I reached Mysore (From Bylekuppe), I decided to travel back to Bangalore by train. Took a prepaid Auto to the railway station and booked my unreserved ticket for just Rs 24. Wow! No wonder trains are the best mode of transportation here. A bus charge from Bangalore to Mysore is Rs 110. What a difference! I had to wait for a little while for the train to arrive. As soon as the train slowed down, people began to jump into the compartments. Some had already managed to drop their hand kerchiefs on to the seats, through the window. I quickly got on the train and chose a single seat. (I had already predicted the trouble in sitting on the 4 seater).

Now, as soon as I was in, a big fight broke out. Soon the bogie was filled with loud voices of anger, desperation and frustration. A women standing outside the train claimed that she had dropped her hand kerchief on to the seat but a man who walked into the compartment, not seeing it, royally threw his bag and conquered the seat. Now, both did not want to give up the place. Let me try to re-create the conversation here.

She - Hey Mister, I have reserved this place.
He – No way, I sat here first.
She - Reeeeee, sir...I have dropped the kerchief there.
He - I don’t know.
She – Hello… What do you mean? (A little angry now)
He - I can not see any kerchief. (Tries to avoid her and looks towards the door as though waiting for someone.)
She - Hey...get up man...I booked this seat first.
He - No way

The lady was traveling along with her daughter and an old lady. The little girl enters in and tries to drag his bag out. He holds on to it. (I remembered the Fevicol Ad at this point.)

Little Girl- Yelriiiii, (Get up man) this is our seat.
He - Don’t lie.
She - I don’t lie and I am not mad to argue with you. Get lost.
He – No…, mind your language.

She walks in and then forces his bag out of the way and sits. She is a hefty lady and he half her size! He still manages to hold on to a part of the seat.

He - You stupid lady....Lair.
She - Shut up man....I couldn’t open the door so I dropped the hand kerchief.
He -Where is it? (Again...why does he need it?)

The little girl passes her kerchief and the lady throws it at him..."here it is, take it". (Hey we found it)

He- Being a lady, is this how one behaves?

She- You better behave like a man first. Then we would behave like women.

(Hmm...The matter is getting heated up. I looked away.)

Meanwhile an old man sitting there got really frustrated at the lady. Not sure what he heard and what he dint like about the lady’s talk. He began to shoot some words of anger at her now.

Old Man – Hey you ...What do you think about yourself…What an ego…Talking as though you are a queen.

The lady turned a little softer now, she tried to explain to him, her part of the story. Meanwhile all of us tried to keep the Old man from shouting.

Seeing that the old man was supporting him, this dude started his fight again. His wife had just then walked into the compartment and she was taken aback by this quarrel. She tried to stop her husband from speaking and when it dint help she felt really shy about this and hid her face behind her hands.

Finally the fight ended. Now, everyone began to settle down. People wanted every small bit of the 4 seat bench. It ended up accommodating 6 people at the end.

An old man (Villager) was sitting in one corner and was shouting at everyone who sat on upper berth –

“Hey, do not move your legs, all the mud from your leg is falling down on my head… cant you clean your legs before climbing?”

A very studious looking girl managed to cramp in between two people. Well, studious because she had these really techy glasses, the one with thin black frame. And as soon as she sat, she pulled out a newspaper and started solving crosswords.

A Muslim family with 2 men, 2 women and 3 kids occupied the passage.

The two kids were made to sit on the upper berth. And the old man shouted again –

“Remove their shoes first and then make them sit there. All the mud…” He went on.

Finally, the train began to move. Even though the quietness and serene beauty of evening life out,  near the fields attracted me, I was more interested in noticing the chaos inside the train; Frustrated faces, some accepting all this as fun (Especially the Muslim ladies, they enjoyed standing there or when tired, they happily sat on the floor.)

The lady who had fought was still looking at everyone as though trying to read our expression and opinion about the fight. She looked disturbed and so remained her expression till we reached Bangalore. I felt bad for her. A fight could spoil my mood for weeks sometimes.

The man who had fought was now happily romancing his newly wedded wife. (She was covered with a lot of gold and wore a bright red saree. She looked really beautiful in her attire.)

Crossword girl, I guess had selected many newspaper for this trip. She kept on pulling out one paper after another from her bag and solved the puzzles.

People hardly had place there to stand but a group of people came selling one or other eatables.

“ Bissiii bissii madur vada…..” (A snack)

A lady followed him by shouting – “Sebeye kayeeeeeeeeeeee” (Guava)

And then came hot tea followed by a man with huge sack of charmoori (Another evening snack) Looking at this in flow of people the Muslim women burst into laughter. I couldn’t help smiling at the scene either. They hardly had space to stand and in between them, these people made their way, unaffected by the discomfort. Of course it’s their job; they must have been used to such crowds already.

Now, the two kids at the upper berth wanted everything that passed by. They kept crying and asking for “Madur vada”. “Ground nuts”, “Coffee” and what ever that passed our compartment.

I also found a Tulu speaking Mangalorean as well. He identified me as a Mangalorean when I got a phone call from a friend.

Then I was again busy looking out at the fields and small huts here and there until all of a sudden I heard someone cry –

“Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeoooooooooooo”

The two kids on the upper berth had emptied a bottle of water on the old man’s head. I burst into laughter. Poor old man; after so much of warning, he still had to face this.

Exhausted by solving crosswords, the crossword girl by now had slept off.

A small boy came and stood next to me. He said that his mom had forgotten to bring water bottle and that he was feeling very thirsty. So this Mangalorean sitting next to me bought a bottle of water and shared it with the little boy. I tried to shrink a little and shared my seat with the boy. The boy pointed out of the window, towards Wonderla, A fantasy park and shared his story about the place –

“Our school had once organized a trip to the park, but our teacher asked us to give in writing that we ourselves are responsible for any accidents that might happen. So I thought it’s very risky. Why should we go there and die? I like to play in the lake. I use a smooth wooden plank and slip on it to land in the lake. We spend a lot of time in the lake when I go to my grandma’s place. Then why, GRS or Wonder’la”? 

He shared some more of his holiday adventures and told that he would return back to his village next week for a festival in the temple.

“A big electronic hanmuntha (God) statue will be placed at the entrance of the temple which would chant lord’s name and then I can watch that for a while, play for sometime and eat ladoos also and at the same time I can visit temple as well.” I couldn’t help smiling at these innocent statements from him.

The train took 3 hours to reach Bangalore. Everyone suddenly became busy, dragged their bags closer, some occupied the passage already. I had enjoyed this whole journey a lot. A journey by train gets you closer to people than in any other mode of transportation.


As I enjoyed watching everyone, somebody must have enjoyed looking at me and may write – “One guy sitting in a corner just kept observing everyone else.”

A crowd of people wanting to enter the train even before I could get down, a station full of happy, sad, irritated & frustrated faces, Auto drivers fighting for extra money, all this and much more welcomed me back to back to Bangalore.

8 comments:

  1. *GOLD*

    Amazingly written!!! It felt like "been there seen that". :)

    Ofcourse, I usually try to travel by bus rather than train for missing these cock-fights ;)

    Have you tried the maddur vada? Its nice ;)

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  2. Harsha,

    Yep. If you want to miss all this chaos, bus journey is the best. But I think train journey's are always enjoyable. I have enjoyed every train journey which I have had so far.

    This chaos speaks for itself about the daily irritation and frustration that our people go through.
    Until recentlyI have travelled by Bus and have seen many such faces, irritated with Bangalore traffic jams, rain or any other issue. Standing in a bus for a very long time was not enjoyable for me either at times.
    People are flooded with insecurities, tensions and preoccupied minds which shows up during such situations.

    Havent tried maddur vada in train. Have tasted it before. :-)

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  3. Ajeya, beautiful post. I loved reading it. It brought back memories of my own train journey from B'lore to Mysore and back when we were in India on our last trip there. It is as if the exact same fight occured. Its funny, isn't it? Everyday the faces of the people traveling probably change, but the scene is the same:) The thing that really intrigues me is that all the people who were fighting, settle down after a while and travel quite amicably the rest of the way. I just love it..even with all our frustrations and worries, we really learn to move on and get on with life. I miss being there so much. Thanks for taking me back through your blog:)
    P.S: You just have to try Maddur vada on that line, it delicious. Even my kids loved it:)
    Maybe this comment should have been a post..lol, its so long..sorry!

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  4. Hey! Loved the post. It felt as if I were travelling. I miss those night travels in the 3-tier trains :(

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  5. @ Travel Plaza - Thanks, Yep totally agreed to your view.
    Please continue writing long comments, i enjoy reading them.
    :-)

    @Bindu - Thanks. Welcome to my blog.

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  6. Ha ha ha!!! That sounds like fun... Your literature really has a 'touch' that allows you to turn something sub-par into an interesting encounter. Things do really look different if you sometimes look the other way eh? Love the part about the child talking about wonderland and how the old man got water on him... ha ha ha.

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  7. Ajeya, sorry for the Offtopic comment but if you feel strongly about the images of the dead shown without scant regard on the Indian TV just blog about it. I am trying to aggregate all such links here

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  8. @ Edmund - Thanku

    @ Mridula - Thank u. Definetly,I will.

    ReplyDelete

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