Hello there everyone :) finally! Done with all pending tags! I had gone to Kerala last week for a marriage… yeah, Kerala is an amazingly beautiful place with amazingly beautiful people (hint hint ;) ). But my post is not about the beauty of Kerala, I’ll prolly come up with that later (btw, apologies to all those people who think prolly is wannabe. I use it cuz I think its easier to pronounce than its root word). I had gone to Kerala by train this time, don’t you just love train journeys? I’d say especially if it’s the Konkan rails. Seriously, you’re missing out on a lot if you’re amongst the ‘frequent flyer’ category.
So anyway, let me get to the point, this time the train journey was quite uneventful; just me, my iPod and a book. But I was reminded of this train journey from 4 years back when I was traveling from Mumbai to Coimbatore for the TNPCEE exam (ugh! Those terrible terrible days!) It was quite an amusing experience. I met a few people who were so typical in their mannerisms yet struck me as oddballs :P anyway, I can’t reproduce verbatim, the conversations etc, but I’ll try to give you an account of all that I remember.
Yeah so well it was sometime in April 2004. I remember it was one of the first train journeys with which I was extremely satisfied. A/C coach, nice new broad switches, all lights in working condition, clean white sheets, spic and span coach- all in all pretty neat! I had thought the place was fine for me to go about my last minute revision. Or so I thought. When my father and I boarded the train, there was this lady already occupying the berth opposite to ours. She looked the pucca tam-brahm kinds and had a nice friendly face (trap #1). No sooner had we locked our luggage in place and settled down did she start her rapid fire session (hello… father daughter eh? Where are you going? Enge poreenga? Mother didn’t come? Whyyyy?? Blah blah blah) courtesy sakes, my dad answered and asked her where she was heading to. Bus! Shuroo ho gayi... “Oh I’m going to Bangalore”. You’d think she’d stop with that but oh no she goes on, “it’s my daughter’s house warming ceremony you see. She’s working with so and so. Her husband is working with so and so. Nice boy. Romba nalla payyan. My son is not coming though. He’s in Hyderabad working for so and so. He gets a very good pay there. Used to be good at studies and blah blah blah blah blah…..” GAWD!!! And I always thought I was talkative! More than half of what I’d say in a day was covered by her in 15 minutes and the train had not even started to move!
There were still 5 minutes left for the train to leave when another lady barged in with her mother (or mother in law). I thought now that all berths were occupied and the place looked full lady1 would quieten a little, but boy was I in for a treat! Lady 2 turned out to be a Marathi- nice looking, sweet face, et al(trap #2) but when it came to the gift of the gab- she could beat lady1!
Now lady2 settles down and starts off with her story of her whereabouts. “I’m settled in Bangalore. I have a daughter. She has gone to America. Nice place it seems…’ at this lady1 interrupts (in an all too audible voice) “my daughter has also been to America” and ignoring lady 2’s slightly offended face continued, “she works with so and so you know, so she has to keep traveling abroad all the time. She finds it so difficult…’ and so it went on and on and on until both our ladies managed (or not) to convince the other that their daughter was superior to the counterpart. Lady2 then turned to dad, “so where are you going sir?’ before my dad could say anything lady1 spoke up, ‘Divya and uncle here are going to Coimbatore for her exam’. My dad looked at me, stunned, “UNCLE???!!’ he mouthed. I tried my best not to laugh and choked on my biscuit instead. Aunty ji 1 was evidently at least 5 years elder to dad. Poor him! Oh well! Their conversation didn’t seem to be getting over anytime soon then so dad finally asked if we could all sleep. Lady2’s mom seemed to be eager to… poor lady knew only Marathi so couldn’t join in the conversations (thank god!).
Next day subah utkar socha ki bhai kuch studies ho jaye… aakhir exam likhne ja rahi hoon, koi pinic manane nahi. But studies seemed out of scope. After tea, I was trying to squeeze some chemistry into my head when lady 2 asked me, ‘you stay in Colaba, nai?’ ‘yes’, I obliged and returned to reading my big fat chemistry book. Any sensible person would take the hint and shut up but sensible people are such a rarity!
Lady 2 – I used to live there. Do they still have strand cinema?
Lady 2 – aapko strand cinema nai pata? Oohhhh you have regal and movie time no?
Me- well... no… err…
Lady 2 - We used to stay behind a tall building in 3 pasta lane. The building’s name was …. Is it still there?
Lady2- nahi hoga, after all it was 37 years back (!!!!).
I didn’t know what to say to that. I was tired of starting and ending sentences in err... so I chose to remain silent. Tab tak lunch aa gayaso escape!
Lunch was quite ok. I mean, it was the Indian railways lunch so standards are pretty low but still, it was decent. Hmmm… or so I thought.
‘Cheeee' - lady1. ‘what rubbish is this? Rice is not hot, sambhar is just dal and salt, sabji has no salt. Is this jail food?? How are you eating it? We need to lodge a complaint. This is atrocious. Kadavule, after all they take so much money!’ and as always… ‘blah blah blah’.
My dad looked like he had had enough of the whole journey and would’ve loved to get off at the next station.
And so the train crawled on and on and so did the cascade of ever replenishing topics. Although the two ladies now seemed to be getting along better, so they kept to themselves most of the time apart from occasionally asking our views on some topic (but their alarmingly loud voices were hard to ignore)
One conversation that I remember:
Lady2 (to lady1)– Nice bangle. Were did you buy it from?
Lady1- It’s pure gold. Bought it from this shop in Matunga.
Lady2 (with that unmistakable smirk in her tone) - pure gold? But stones don’t stay on pure gold.
Lady1- yes yes… little bit of copper is there. But otherwise pure gold. And these are real rubies.
Lady2- ohhh.. must be expensive.
Lady1- of course. Very expensive. But we south Indians love gold. Uncle here is a Malayalee. He knows.
On being addressed as ‘uncle’ again, I could see his ears redden but he obliged with a smile.
And then several hours later, it was night and along came Bangalore (phew!!). Nearly everyone got off there. Our lovely ladies wished me all the best.
(lady2 – hope we didn’t disturb you much.)
(lady1- study well. You’ll also go abroad like my daughter)
(lady2- yes, to America like my daughter)
(me- (sigh) yes. thank you aunty!)
And with a final good bye (and all the best uncle! :P) they left. For once, I appreciated the peace and quiet around me.
Dad turned to me and said – “very silenntt nooooo?” (in that Tamil drawl)
But then all said and done, those ladies were sweet. Made our journey a little too noisy but interesting all the same!