Monday, September 20, 2010

There's no place like home

Part Uno:Delhi
It is 16th and “All my Bags are packed and am ready to go” this was my status message as the clock struck 12 on 16th September. I have the huge load of all my 1st year textbook’s with me(if anyone has any doubts regarding their sizes kindly check the last pic in the album named 3rd trimester @ IIFT in my Facebook A/C and you’ll know). With that mighty load on my back I took the Auto from IIFT gates to Hauz Khas Metro Station, that’s right baby, now the metro drops you off till New Delhi Station from Hauz Khas :) . Post the luggage screening and opening and closing of the bags for the CISF’s most honest x-ray scanning inspector, I move into the awesome Bombardier coaches which are waiting for me as I reach the platform.

I’m at NDLS within 20 minutes and I'm ready to board the Kerala Express from Delhi once again to Trivandrum. The last time I took Kerala Express from NDLS to TVC was in 2007 when I came to attend my job interview with IFFCO. That was in Second class sleeper, but this time I had an A/C seat, but still things don't change much as you'll see.

The 1st thing I do once I've stowed all my bags under the seats is to look at the passenger list chipkaoed beside one of the doors. Not to make sure if I'm on the list, but, to check out who else is there. M's of any age don't interest me at all unless there's an F of a reasonably acceptable age sitting beside them. But, that's for later. For now I mentally make a note of all the F-16s to F25s mentioned on the reservation list so that I'll walk pass their seats and check them out when my back starts paining sitting on the rock hard seats. Not much luck in there. My bogie was full of M30-M45 range. Well, okay. I don't want to travel among the hottest possible angels every time, but, what's the deal with so many M30 to M45s.

They say LUCK is Labour Under Correct Knowledge, but, the "Knowledge" part is something that makes me come back to square one every single time. But boy do you read what was in store for me.

I bet you know I am pretty pissed off because this post is being written after 1 am. I can't shake off the feeling that the Indian Railways with its offering of "the mo*^%&#-f$%^#ing AC-3 tier coach", along with my co-passengers, is out to screw me, have a smoke, then come back to screw me again. I present the following evidences:
  1. The compartment, including the side berths, is meant to seat eight. However the passengers in my compartment have approximately 287 people to see them off. And they all squeeze in or stand in the aisle, leaving no room for genuine passengers. All of them wait till the last millisecond before getting off the train. This is accompanied by shrieks of "arey train chal padi!!", as if we paid all that money to go sit in a stationary claustrophobic cell.
  2. Atleast one person attempts to swap seats. He offers a seat, usually a middle berth (Murphy's law) in a compartment 20 coaches away, or sometimes in the adjacent train. "Travelling together" is a big deal even in the night trains. If there is no such person, nocturnal predators with wait-listed tickets are usually on the prowl for confirmed ticket holders who can "adjust" for a few hours. Since I am a bachelor with the innocent face of a sucker, I can't escape being gang-adjusted repeatedly by a series of wait-listers. My medical results reveal that I may never recover from this severe trauma.
  3. Atleast one of the co-passengers carries luggage that will put an Antarctic expedition to shame. Consequently, the entire floor space plus halves of two berths and the aisle become full, allowing only someone with the skill-level of Bob Beamon to make it across to the bathroom. Oh! and needless to say, all that hunk of luggage will not have a single book to read on the way, except "Stardust" which will be over by the time the train pulls out of the platform.
  4. The presence of atleast one baby in my compartment is mandatory. And if the baby's bawling and howling is insufficient, the parents make repairs by throwing in some brain-dead baby talk. The baby talk comprises of atmost three sentences of the kind "Ale Ale Ale baby kyon lo laha hai...", "deko deko bahar doggie hai cow hai pigeon hai...aley waah aley waah" and "chalo mamma paas chalenge, abhi beta soyega, raaja beta soyega" and so forth. These three sentences will be repeated in an infinite loop until the mother dies of dehydration or I puncture my ear drums, whichever happens first. If the baby talk does not suffice, the dad usually initiates a suave and sophisticated game, like pulling a coin out of the baby's ass, thus cementing his skills as a magician, and the kid becomes all wonder-eyed thinking "Holy Shit! My ass did that ??" With all this talk of babies, I'm tempted to use the pun "berth control" here but I am sure it has been used a million times already.
  5. The person on the lower berth feels "sleepy" at 8:30pm, just two seconds after s/he finishes dinner, forcing the others to retire. Unless I am the lower berth owner, in which case, I won't be allowed to sleep before 2:30am. Even then, a group of wait-listers will suddenly materialize to sleep in the aisle, thereby giving a new meaning to "sleepovers".
  6. The person on the middle berth will sleep the longest, turning the rest of us into Hunchbacks of Notre Dame. On being woken up, he/she will generally give an Oscar winning "oh am I causing any trouble" look. The rest of us have, ofcourse, already been woken up by the obnoxious tea seller at 5:45am, who usually passes on secret information of the kind "abhi Aligarh cross kiya hai" along with the freaking mud water that passes for tea.
  7. All the bathrooms will be occupied till 2pm, so the elderly uncle will lose all pretense of good manners, and will let loose the dogs of hell, otherwise known as the farting guns of Navarone. While the more adventurous of us can start guessing which pickle did uncleji have with aalo and rajma last night, I prefer to lean outside the door, looking for the next electric pole to bang my head into.
  8. Needless to say, a delay by a few hours is to be expected. For example, my "prestigious superfast express train" took 53 instead of 50 hrs, and this was a good day I was told. The last 200 kms took more than 5 hours. Hell! I could have run faster than that. Shameless self-advertising ends here.

Next time, I am travelling in the cargo hold of the first airplane that I see.

Some people never learn, right? Yeah, they don't. And that's what makes this world funny. I'm honoured to be contributing positively to the Gross Happiness Index of the planet. I repeat, as I often do: If you don't have the balls to hold your breath for half an hour or so, you shouldn't be boarding the Indian Railways. Also applies to people with breathing ailments like asthma. Enough Bitching about Train Journeys. Now the good part:

As soon as the Train entered Kerala, the rain gods started their job and what a scene it was :), the picture below pretty much describes the entire scene which unfolded:

Photo credit: Train in the rains by Bramha.

Part Deux: Trivandrum
Out of the railway station and it's a different world every time I come here. Small city, now developing into a bigger one, some changes are nice; like wider roads, some are not; like cutting down trees for the same; nice, easy climate(not for all), and lots and lots of places to visit, especially the three beaches. But, it's my home I'm longing for. Now, just because it's your city doesn't mean you own it. 3 dozen taxi and auto rickshaw owners around me, asking me, no, telling me to board their vehicle. Then I find dad amongst the crowd and he gets me away from these buggers.

As much as you want to spend more and more time with your girlfriends and boyfriends, there's nothing that is remotely as inexplicably touching as a long and silent hug from your mom.

Now, it has been an unwritten rule in my family for the last 3 years since I've started living outside my house, the first thing my mom asks me is "What would you eat?". I remind her that I'd love the Chicken Curry which I had told her when we talked while in the train. Turns out the question was asked just as a continuation of the tradition and Chicken Curry is ready. I only have to take a bath and be at the table. I don't take a bath and no one insists me to have one. After all I'm the son. I have the best Chicken Curry and wipe off the last bits from the plate. I could’ve even licked the plate, coz it is my home and I can bloody do that here :)

My sister and her husband (I should get used to that more now) come at 7:00 in the evening. Hellos, hugs and we're out of the house to the temple near my home. Post this we have dinner together and then off she goes to her home and me and parents go off to watch the new Mammootty movie which has him playing a typical Trichur guy. While reaching the theatre for the night show, I felt like the whole car owning population in Trivandrum City has come down to watch the movie and I pick up an argument with a cop over the parking of the car and it went on to become a pretty heated one and that tells you about the status message. After a 15 minute verbal duel, finally when the cop threatened that he’ll get the tow truck and get my car pulled away I moved my car to another spot and got inside the movie. We had the very last row of seats and the kids rules that were mentioned above apply here also. There was a big family consisting of four couples all having multiple kids in the 0-5 age group out to ruin my movie. But surprisingly all of them slept off within minutes of the movie starting and I could have a good time watching the movie. I just loved the movie and all this reminded me on my trip back home that:

There's no place like home...


athul v dev said...

"As much as you want to spend more and more time with your girlfriends and boyfriends, there's nothing that is remotely as inexplicably touching as a long and silent hug from your mom."
Good one man well said i liked it verymuch :)

Abhilash Suryan said...

Waiting for my turn :)

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