Friday, January 02, 2009

Train-Prem: From Chhuk-chhuk to Dhak-dhak

Dec 9, 2008

40 hours in train begin the moment the railway staff delivers a fluffy pillow, two off-white bed-sheets and a warm blanket at the berth. And then 8 hours pass by. If you have had a night-out as is the case with me, 12 hours pass by.

The two idlis of the Chennai Central Sarvana Bhavan have long been assimilated and the rats have started playing baseball in my stomach. Tan tanan, it's time to fish through the reserved bank of six idlis packed by Sarvana again. My rumourpedia says that there is a particular frequency at which if the human body is shaken, it goes into deep sleep. With no beautiful girl around, the frequency of train's vibration matches my crash-frequency.

Good morning, 24 hours have got down at the earlier stations and only 16 more to go. A very good morning, there's a cute 18+ lying on the lower berth. Her parents are asleep on the two middle berths. I am put up on the upper berth opposite the girl's column of berths. The gentleman that I am, instead of looking at her unawares, I start thinking of a plan to catch her along with her parents when they wake up. This is an apt time for Wodehouse, I guess (guess because I haven't read Wodehouse yet; you can bump me now). After an hour of Wodehouse laughs which manifest through changes in exhaling patterns (from ha-ha to hee-hee to huh-huh), I look through the corner of my eyes to check the girl. There she is - all awake, staring at me. It's quite easy for her in that position, lying flat on the back and looking almost straight up. For me, it's a bit of twisting my neck but as they say – no pain no gain.

She is from Bhubaneshwar but her accent has a tint of Delhi as well and one can't classify her to a particular region based on language. I am about to say - Excuse me, could you please pass on the newspaper. Suddenly I have this feeling that something is not quite right here. I turn a bit left and the next scene is straight out of Aahat Part 3. There is another character in the plot who was doing God-knows-what till now and is giving a frosty-nose look to me. She, without a speck of doubt, is the Daadi Ma who is all set to change the course of the story. As far as my experience goes, you can cross the hurdle of any girl's parents through the pole of your JEE rank but Daadi Ma is a real tough nut. She doesn't know the 1,75,000 people who appeared in JEE. She needs to be totally convinced that you are a Ram and only then will you be able to get Sita. Sounds like a challenge and the game has become interesting now. I have two females staring at me, one for the very right and the other for the very wrong reason and I don't have the guts to look at either of them. Daadi Amma is trying her best to find in me the wicked young lover who first traps gullible girls into his prem-jaal and then runs away with them.

I slowly fish out the other nice reads lined up for the journey, not to mention the 4 magazines I had bought at Chennai Central. All of them are piled up towards granny and then I sit facing her in a one-on-one battle. 8 hours elapse and the brave knight is either napping or reading. In this battle, even the soldiers who sleep in the runbhoomi are worshipped by prem-pujaris. But I have this strange feeling that the old lady is a Hitler. The devil would have rejected his son's application for succession the moment the old lady whispered to her son - Radhika ko idhar bitha do, wahan upar ek ladka hai. She has no mercy for the guy who has not uttered a single word in the last 32 hours. All through this time, she's been constantly monitoring me. God favours the brave and the granny gets her piece of cake when her son buys her a bright yellow, red & green coloured book from an unauthorized similar-books-carrying vendor who later tries to sell me some pink books in the shady corner connecting two coaches, completely unaware of the amount of exposure an IITian has to such stuff. The Dadi Amma's book is entitled Ishwar ke saath Sawaal-Jawaab – Special edition in Q & A format. She kept saying no but her son was an iron-willed man. I could agree no more to whatever reasons he thought for her to read the book and spare me the dragon eyes. Although now I have the opportunity/luxury to look in better directions, I am in no mood to break my tapasya. The man of dignity is not scared of walking on fire. Finally, the destination is about to arrive in half an hour. I slowly move out with my big suitcase and small bag. No glance at her, absolutely. And then, the Hitler moves towards me and says - Kahan ghar hai tumhara, bete? Kahan padhte ho? Abhi aadha ghanta hai station aane mein. Aao yahan baith jaao. For those of you who haven't guessed it yet, 'yahan' is straight in front of the girl and I feel like hitting three goals in a row in the inter-wing footer match. Radhika is giving me strange looks, with a slight smile and bewildering eyes. I can't help but smile back.

Instead of any intro-wintro which would have resulted into a detailed account of IIT life, I start a conversation with Daadi Amma about spirituality, the softest part of any old woman. As I open my gyaan ka pitara, granny starts raising her voice to strengthen her points and by now Radhika is laughing her head off while looking at the defeat of 'be a Ram/Sita' arguments she has been subjected to for ages.

The station comes. I quietly leave with my big suitcase and small bag without even talking a word with a cute girl near my berth throughout the journey, for the first time in years. And there were days when any such girl used to spend her journey reading my poems and leading conversations which used to begin with IIT to proceed towards more interesting things, with nobody around interfering. After first year, I left using IIT or poetry in train-encounters-with-girls. IIT brings more attention than one needs and poetry, the song of my heart, is reserved for someone who turns out to be more special. But right now I am just wondering why I converted a journey which could have been full of conversations with a cute girl and her family, ending happily with her cell no, into a fundae session on Bhagwan Krishna and his Maya with a 60+ lady? May be I wasn't desparate enough, which is a shame for someone from IITM. May be sometimes it's the squeeze that matters more than the juice.


TooL said...

Awesome piece..All of us have been there done that..You put into words..

Naren said...

Nice one da.. :) I have always wanted some beautiful women in my bay, but every time I go on a train journey, it's either old couples or newly married ones with small babies. Irritating, any way. :)

Virgineer said...

It has happened with me too but somehow, most of the times, Laloo Yadav's management doesn't disappoint me ;)