Statutory Warning: It’s a rather loooooooooooooooooooong post..Read it only when you have time…but it is interesting..atleast I hope you find it interesting…
It has been an evening of interesting (and surprising) experiences.
I am sitting in the waiting room of Bangalore City Railway Station. I am going home for Saraswathi Puja and Vijaya Dasami..hippie…..:) The Chennai Mail starts only at 22.45 and its just 21.00 hours now…so I have a couple of hours to kill. I had to come early as my uncle left for Delhi by Rajdhani which left at 20.30. I intended to spend an hour at the internet center here but the center guy told that he would shut at 21.00 but take the full fare for an hour’s browsing from me even though only half hour is left.
“Aasai dosai appalam vadai”
I decide to try out the waiting room. I had seen the waiting room from outside whenever I came to catch my train to Chennai which invariably starts from Platform 1. It looked ok so decide to give it a try..
The waiting room is large with sufficient number of chairs all in good condition. The room is reasonably clean and well ventilated. It does not stink as I had expected (Indian Railways has definitely improved over the years..Kudos to the team and keep it up!) I look out for a chair under a fan and luckily find one. I settle down, take out my recently bought ipod shuffle and start listening to my assortment of music from Ravishankar to Farida Khanum.
I look around the waiting room and I am reminded of the project that we did for our Marketing Management course. We had developed a plan to rebrand Indian Railways. We presented Indian Railways as a means of “Experiencing India” first hand and relived the nostalgia of our own rail experiences during the project. One of us came up with a brilliant piece of prose (or is it a poem?) as the brand proposition of Indian Railways. Our in-house graphics expert designed a brand new logo which captured the essence of the poem and even used the train sequences in Gandhi to come up with an AV ad sequence. As I look around me in this waiting room now, I realize how true it is to say that the railway station or train travel provides you a microcosm of India that very few other places can provide you with. I see a Rajasthani lady feeding her child..a tamil mama and mami involved in involved discussion (I bet it is about some action of a neighbor or a relative)..some young adolescents (must be on a college trip)..some guys lying and sleeping on the floor oblivious to the noise and the activity around them..the policeman comes on a beat..some workers taking a break in one corner..This is India for you (or more appropriately one slice of India for you)..
I get impatient looking around..(lest I be appear suspicious..you will get an idea of why this thought came as u read further J)..I shuffle the pages of the Frontline (actually I went to buy Outlook; but do u know that both Outlook and India Today now costs 25 bucks..I settled for a 15 buck and more intellectual Frontline J ) that I bought some time back. I read Praful Bidwai’s eloquent argument of why India should be ashamed of playing ‘crass realpolitik’ to get the Vienna waiver. I turn to the next article..a piece on terror by Raghavan..it has a photo of a policeman checking the luggage with a metal detector in Bangalore Railway station!! I had just come through the same exercise some time back..I start thinking of how terrorism has affected us..directly and indirectly..
Nowadays I don’t know whom to believe and whom to suspect when I go out..
I see a couple of bags next to my chair..they have been lying here since I came..that is for about 20 to 30 minutes now..There is no one in the two seats next to that. I grow suspicious..
“Don’t overreact” I say to myself…
“But what if it’s a bomb!!” – the other me..
“Security has improved..it can’t be a bomb!! And no one will keep a bomb in a school backpack”
“What if it is? You are sitting right next to it!! And even it blasts after you left will you be able to live with the knowledge that you suspected but did not take action?”
“Ya..moreover are we not supposed to be vigilant and help the police to counter terrorist threats..that’s the only effective way to fight terror”
Still I am hesitant..I look around for some five minutes..I gather courage and ask the person sitting in the chair behind the one having the bags.. “Sir, is it yours”..He nods a “No”…
“Leave it..don’t appear as a fool”
I start reading Frontline once again..
I look around again..I find some girls sitting two chairs next to me..I gather my courage again to overcome my hesitance and ask her
“Are these yours?”
“Appadaa…thappichom” (Thank God! Escaped!)
I reflect upon this brief conversation that I had with myself and see how terror has impacted me.
“It has made me more suspicious than normal”
“No..it has made me alert..and that’s the only way to prevent terror acts..We citizens should play our role as well”
Having so consoled myself I sit to write this blogpost..
“Gosh..i should use my laptop as a laptop and not as a desktop..Lets get cracking”
And that is the genesis of this blogpost..my first realtime blogspot..(though it can’t be posted realtime as I don’t have wireless broadband connectivity here..it has to wait atleast till Friday afternoon to see the light of the day)
P.S: I had started this blogpost by talking about interesting experiences. Here are the other two:
1. We got the call taxi in front of the City Railway Station. The driver came out to open the back and helped us in downloading the luggage. As mama, mami and me were trying to gather the required chillarai (change) among us the driver got delayed by a couple of minutes. In that short time, some one had flicked the driver’s mobile which he had left on the car dashboard (he had left the window open!)..We called his number immediately.. “The Airtel number you are trying to reach is temporarily switched off!!” We were there not more than five minutes and were there only near the car and it was enough for someone to flick a mobile right under nose!! This is my second (second-hand) experience of theft at the City railway station..A couple of years back when I was visiting Mysore with my college friends, the train had stopped in Bangalore for some thirty minutes break..some one stole a couple of bags from the train..though some of our friends were still in the train and some of us were having coffee in the platform shop..And that bag had the money that we had collected and my friend’s ATM card..We managed to get through the helpdesk of his bank within an hour but that was enough for the thief to empty his account (we still don’t know how he knew the PIN!!!)..Luckily there was not much in the account! I still remember the famous statement that my aggrieved friend made in Mysore railway station as we went to the railway police to lodge a complaint…One of us remarked something about life to which he replied..
“Ennada vazhkai…idho enna paar..oru T-shirt Bermuda voda onnum illama verum kaiyya nikkaren paaru..idhaan da vaazkai!!” (“What do you mean by life? See me..Stranded with only the Tshirt and the Bermuda that I am wearing and nothing else..THIS IS LIFE”)..
It’s true that the most philosophical of statements come one finds oneself in desperate situations!
2. The second interesting experience..We fixed a porter to carry the luggage as it was too much and Rajdhani was in 8th Platform…After the regular haggling we reach a consensus and he efficiently did his job to take the luggage right till inside of the train. My uncle pays him the amount..
“Thank you Sir…have a happy journey”..He darts away to catch his next customer as me and my uncle look at each other with surprise and smile at each other J
3. My ticket is RAC which got confirmed…S8 berth no 25..I only pray that it should not be the “Side Middle Berth!!!” (yet another manifestation of Lalu’s ‘Milking strategy’). But you know it has been an evening of interesting experiences…
P.S. to P.S:!!
I am sorry to extend this blog..but what can I do..the evening and now the night refuses to stop being interesting..
To ensure continuity..first let me inform you that I did not get a “Side Middle Berth” and got a Lower Berth…
Its Midnight..the train has not yet started!!! It was supposed to start at 22.45…I walk out of the train after an hour of delay..confident that the train would not start any soon J I walk up to the couple of TTs who are sitting chatting outside the compartment..
“Is the train delayed?” (“What a stupid sa question?” – Me to myself J )
The annoyed TT remarks to another passenger sitting next to him
“He says some good train has derailed” – the other passenger..
“There is no announcement” – to the TT justifying my question!
TT waves his hand and look at the announcement speaker with helplessness.
“the train will start after 12..it will go through Salem” – TT
“When will it reach?”
“maybe around 11 AM”
“If you had told me an hour earlier I would have taken the last bus available”
I walk back to my seat and start blogging again J
Another interesting thing happened when I boarded the train..A north Indian couple boarded the train ahead of me..They stopped before boarding the train..and touched the steps and prayed for a moment before entering the train..in the same fashion as the artistes and the players do before entering the stage or playground..This is the first time I see someone doing it before boarding a train or bus…
Now I look back to that and think,
“What’s the use of that prayer?”
“Maybe this train is delayed..but it is not derailed!!” (yet… J ).
I have a dilemma now..Should I walk out if the train is delayed further and take a bus to Chennai..or should I stay in train only? Interesting Qn!! J
And to think that I was waiting for the last one week to spend three full days with amma and appa!!
The battery is down to 57%…Hope my night does not become more interesting…
Wait..there is an announcement…I had never been so attentive to railway announcements as I had been over the last one hour! It is official…the train is going to go through a different route..via Salem, Dharmapuri..Erode…
Hmm…Over the last five years as I had shuttled between Bangalore and Chennai I had travelled to Chennai by all possible means (except air – that option now is anyway in the realm of stupidness).. This is one more to my numerous experiences of travelling from Bangalore to Chennai…
I had travelled to Chennai on the day Rajkumar was cremated..the day a Supreme Court judgment on the Cauvery issue came in the favor of Tamil Nadu..On both days I took a risk..travelled through empty roads and crowded trains on both occasions…Those stories though will be told in a different blogpost..I am going to spare you of those now..
Another strange thing is that I am not hassled today even though there is so much delay that I could have gone to Chennai and even come back..maybe because I am blogging this as it happens..
“Arey bhagwan..is raat ko aur interesting mat banao..bahut boring bana do” (Kareena Kapoor, JWM, 2007) J
What timing!! The train has started moving at last!!
“Bhagwan hai…kadavul irukaarpa..”
P.S to P.S to P.S: I reached home at 11.30..a full six hours later than the scheduled time..Normal time to travel from Bangalore to Chennai in train/bus – six hours!!