Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Five people you will meet in your train journeys

Disclaimer: Characters mentioned in this post are purely imaginary. If you can identify with any of them, chances are high that we took a train together sometime to some common destination.

Train Journeys form an indispensable part of my life. They have always been my comfortable and favourite mode of transport. As a child, looking out of the window and watching those lush green fields passing by, was my favourite pass time during my train journeys. Cows grazing in the fields, children playing cricket, bridges over those beautiful rivers were some of the common sights during my journeys. There were a lot more of such beautiful sights on my way to my ancestral home. Periodic visits by chai-wallahs, pantry boys, magazine sellers used to pipe up my mood more.

Even now, with the cool breeze touching my face and tousling my hair, I can hear train singing a lullaby for me. Now most of my train journeys being overnight ones, i don't get to enjoy the sights anymore. But something that hasn't changed till now, is the different types of people I travel with. Let me try and broadly divide them into the some categories:

Loners: 'Live and let others live' types. The easiest of all types to put up with. They would either be listening to music or reading something or dreaming(???). Whatever they are doing, they won’t bother to interfere with what others are doing. They are content in their own world.

Mother India types: They have taken it upon themselves to take care of everybody. They will start off with questions like where u are going? what u are going to do there? where u are working? etc... They would normally be traveling with their sons or husbands or nephews. If they are traveling with their daughters or grand children, they chose to ignore u. Come on, how can they have time to spare for u when they are busy feeding their grand children, talking to them and putting them to sleep. The main advantage of travelling with them is the occasional food packets that they take out and insist that you eat atleast some of it. But I somehow like travelling with them. I feel a sense of security when a motherly figure is around.

Aunty Number One: Mostly in their middle ages, they love to extract each and every minute details of your personal life. Though they will start off with asking about your work and education, it won’t take much time for them to drift the focus to your family. They would be eager to know what your dad do for a living and where your home town is. During one of my journeys, I met this corpulent, nosey lady who started off a conversion with me, in a very friendly manner. She kept on extracting the minutest details from me, starting with the place i stay now to the nursery school I attended(!!). Considering the tangential direction in which the conversation was heading, I started smelling something really fishy. Disappointment was quite visible in her face, when I politely(Gosh, I extracted the last drop of patience in my body to sound so) told her that I don’t belong to the religion which she thought I would be a part of. She shifted gears and continued the conversation with increased vigour. Then, the conversation went something like this.

Auntiji: So do u know that girl named X, who stays there. (She infact gave me her full house address with her dad's name)

Me(thinking when will this conversation finally end): Ya, I know her, infact she studied with me in school(World is after all so small. The girl in picture happens to be one of my best friends from my school days).

Auntiji: U know what? One of my relatives told me about this girl, I wanted to see her for my son. (This was followed by a string of questions about how she looks, where is she now, etcetera)

Me(cursing myself for starting a conversation with her): Hmmm, yeah, she is good Aunty. (I didn’t want to explain the facts that she is seeing someone and she is not interested in marriage and stuff).

I finally managed to act as if i haven't slept for days and if i dont sleep now,i am drop dead. I withdrew to my upper berth with the auntiji wondering whether she should ask the girl sitting in front of her, about another girl whom another relative talked about for her another son :)

Next type of people is the most interesting...
I want friendship types: Travelling alone and mostly in their 20s or early 30s, these men believe that train journeys are the perfect place to make friendships. And me, a girl travelling alone beg to differ. Typically, I carry a book with me and attempt to read it, no matter how noisy the atmosphere is. Moreover, whenever anyone belonging to this group asks me a question, I tell all my details wrong, right from my name to the organisation i work for :). But, sometimes, you dig your own death trap. This happened when i was travelling one day, back to Bangalore, from my hometown. I was sitting in the side upper berth, reading a book. This guy was in the upper berth, perpendicular to mine, sitting on the edge. He tries to start up a conversation. For the sake of simplicity, lets call him Mr.X.

Mr.X: So are you working in Bangalore?

Me(starled by the fact that someone is actually interrupting me while i am reading): Hmmm... yeah.

Mr.X: Which company are u working for?

I mumble out the name of a famous multinational though i work for another company :)

Mr.X: Oh!! So which vertical u belong to?

Now I am really surprised. I have learnt about vertical, horizontal and diagonals in my mathematics classes, nowhere else. The organisation I work for, don't use this terminology either. So I gave him a look as if how come he knows about the organisational ladders existing in my company.

Mr.X: (As if to clear my confusion) By the way, I work for the same company.
This is followed by a grin that says “Don’t you know? We are long lost friends” :|

Now it was my time to be surprised. I didn’t know that one innocuous lie that I told would backfire at me with the same pace. A sheepish grin and a nod, that’s all I could manage before I turned my head back to my book. The guy was left wondering the entire journey how snobbish I am, not even bothering to answer a simple question. As if I care !!!

Papa, Mama is here to take care of you munnu types: Lets end this with the most difficult types to put up with. People traveling with babies. They carry with them feeding bottles, four course meals, innumerable dresses for their baby, small commode and what not. I really don’t know whether they are shifting their base to some other city or traveling in a train. Though many of you may disagree with me, I find them the most difficult ones to put up with. As it is you are crunched for space and you will have to move a thousand times over to make space for them. Not to mention the baby crying whole night, not allowing you a wink of sleep. I may sound presumptuous here, but hey, even I want to have a peaceful journey.

Whether its the sheer experiences it gives, the type of people you meet or the comfort, train journeys remain the most favourite means of transportation for me.

So whom did you meet in your recent train journey?

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A broken leg and boredom to boot

So there I was revelling in the financial capital of India, pondering over excel sheets, struggling with the traffic woes, having fun with my friends(the fellow interns spread across different companies in Mumbai), enjoying my hectic schedule, and baaaaammmmmmmmmm, there comes the inevitable.

One crazy dog, one run down the stairs, one twist of ankle and a fall, this is all it takes for me to be transported back to God's own country with strict instruction from three doctors in the family and other othropedics that complete immobilisation of leg is required for the next 3 weeks. After all, ligment tear is not something to be proud of and definitely not something to walk away with. :)

So here I am with a broken leg and boredom to boot, trying to pass the time doing something constructive. Any tips to pass time while immobile, fellow bloggers?



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