The train journeys to and fro were the best part of it all.
Here are a few things that stayed in mind.
Train journey to.
It's a five-hour day journey and my co passengers are four strange men and a teenaged girl who looks quite sleepy.
The train is chugging along just fine. There are bits and pieces of conversation floating all around me. Out of the four men, two seem to be friends and one of them is the questioner and the other one, sitting next to me, by the window, is reluctantly giving answers. The question mark man is a typical one of that variety...always asking questions whether to himself or to another doesn't really matter. But he must not indulge in thought; only ask questions all the time. I've noticed, the one that doesn't ask questions is more often than not, also the one who is reluctant to answer. The conversation is doddering.
The train stops at some nondescript station and four Big passengers get on and move towards us. Turns out, out of the four strange men, three were traveling without proper tickets (and I didn't ask him for the window seat thinking it was booked by him!). So finally what we have here is one Big lady sitting by the window on my left (and clearly spilling over to more than half the space for three people, which also means, she is practically sitting on me), the sleepy teenaged girl on my right and the fourth strange man on her right. I do not know at this point, which one of them is traveling unreserved, either the girl or the boy. I am being pushed to the right by the Big lady on my left (she's leaving hardly any distance between left and right). The other Big three new co passengers have pulled out large bags of food and now all four of them are busy gormandizing. Big lady asks me if I want some.
Boy on right decides to try and strike up a conversation with me. Asks me a funny, obvious question ("so, what time does the train reach this place? ") and the bumpkin that I am, answer him nonchalantly. (It always dawns on me too late that the people who ask me these silly questions are doing so not to know the answers, they already know them. I always answer. Whether it's the lech asking me what time it is, or the man on the zebra crossing from the shuddering incident who asked me where Barakhamba road was, when we were crossing the road to get on to the road in question). He asks me another question and by now I know he's only asking to talk, not just to question.
Meanwhile, Big lady has also decided to ask me questions...are you going there for college training?...no? ...then whom are you going to meet?....where will you be staying?...what do you do?...why're you traveling alone?... Boy on right thinks of more questions too.
So, finally we get talking and it's not that bad, really. I mean, normally I hardly ever talk to people around me when I'm traveling alone. And it's such a task for me to think of an alternative name impromptu.
Much later, I cannot resist it anymore and decide to talk to the girl. I ask her silly questions....where're you going?...do you study in school? (as opposed to??)....have you been on this train before?...which class do you study in?....do you visit Delhi often?.... And I also realize that I cannot resist asking her more silly questions because I'd really like to know about the life of a thirteen-year-old girl! So...what time do you leave for school in the morning?...what time do you wake up in the morning?...what time do you get back from school?...what time do you sleep at night?...what do you do on Sundays? (she could've turned around at any moment and told me squarely,” It’s none of your business, you freakin woman! Too bad you aren't an adolescent anymore, but it's hardly my fault!" and so on and so forth. But I guess she was enjoying answering my goofy questions.
She was in Delhi for her fifth eye check up, after a surgery in October to amend a slight squint. She was a really friendly girl. I wish I could've hugged her! But, Big lady on my left, left me no choice and space to do so.
I slept for almost an hour after that. Just before we reached, the boy asked for my phone number. I gave it to him (someone please teach me how to say no) but I don't think I'm going to answer his call, if he does call.
So, the wedding was tiring. It was minus twenty degrees Celsius (I'm sure!). We were breathing out smoke. We got no sleep at all. The ceremonies went on till five in the morn. And then it was time to leave.
On the way back, I got the window seat.
Here re some statistics...
and 43 piglets on the way.
The little boy came in with his old wooden Rawanhatta and sang something not purely melodious. But his voice was mellifluous and I felt like giving him some money. After all, he wasn't begging. He was earning a livelihood by singing to travelers. So I did give him some money for singing that song.
There was a brawl. Someone who wanted to walk to the door got into an argument with someone standing in the aisle. I did not hear most of it but I did hear some words in passing.
" Krrgistlejjjffphh Whafgerstest hristended You Stupid Man!"
"Whaa&*kllltleefff beetkfghrrs You Bastard Guy ngbeeexitestt!".
It was cold. We were tired. It was fun nevertheless.
But what broke my heart was the sight of a little street boy, getting down at a small station with his dirty cloth bag, looking around, lost. I have absolutely no words to describe how I feel when I see a little child in such a state.
One day, I will fulfill my dreams by taking some of these children home for a hot sumptuous meal, a hot water bath and a silly song.
Till then, I will buy them food and talk to them while they eat, drink chai with them and share jokes while doing that.
And if I can't even do that, it will continue to break my heart every time I see a child in such a situation.
Zofo, where's the story? :)
Avalonian, thank you very much for the bucket full of music...