Thursday, August 26, 2010

Railgadi chuk chuk chuk

Trains fascinate me. My first train travel was as a one year old. The annual two day journey to Kerala was the greatest attraction for summer. As I grew up so did the Indian railways. The steam engine gave way to Diesel and then to Electric engines. But the clamour, melee at stations, the running after TTE for a berth etc continued. Then, few trains had AC coaches, now there are many and more travelers opting for it. But Iam here to relate few incidents of some train travelers of yesteryears.

1.Mr. Bannerjee took the express to Calcutta. At Jharsaguda, the train waited at the station for further signal. The power in the coaches went off. Mr. Bannerjee got down to the platform and dozed off to sleep on a bench that sultry summer night. Waking up, he asked the station master to send a telegram to his brother to collect the luggage at Howrah terminus.

2.Dad was single then. He was returning from kerala after attending the funeral of an aunt. He makes it to Jolarpettai. From there onwards, he has no connecting train for another 14 hours. Has to reach ASAP. He boards a goods train. Makes friends with engine driver, shares his dinner, sleeps on his bed and reaches destination in time to report to duty.

3.There was no direct train to Kerala from Central India. The Keralites in Bhilai gathered for an agitation. I remember riding on the carrier seat of Dad’s Yezdi, the road swirling up dust as hundreds of Malayalis- Hindus, Christians, Muslims all rode on various vehicles to the rail crossing to have a Rail Roko. Years later, I drew parallels when I saw Gandhi – the Dandi March scene. First we got two bogies which were pulled in by some train to Nagpur where it waited in the outer to get hitched on the Kerala Express from Delhi. A year or two later, we got the train Bilaspur Cochin Express which is now extended to Trivandrum.

4.Mr. Mahalingam, Mrs. Mahalingam and three kids board the train. There is nothing maha about Mahalingam, a puny man while wife is rotund and pregnant fullterm. Draped in a nine yard kancheepuram and bedecked with flowers they get on with at least eight small pieces of luggage. Dinner is packed in a typical cloth bag. After dinner, lights go off. At 11.00 p.m, the pains start. Mahalingam swoons. Other passengers now have it on them to pull off a delivery. The next station with medical assistance is a good four hours away. People run along the train in either directions to get hold of a Doc or nurse. They find an ortho and a military nurse who deliver a baby boy on lower berth with sheets as partition from passage.

5.Abdul Salim boards from Kurla terminus in Mumbai. He is a NRI- a poor one. He works as a labourer on Dubai’s prestigious projects. But he has a big suitcase. Two RPF trainees too get on the train. They want some goodies. They ask him to open the suitcase near the toilets for security reasons. Mumbai blasts are still fresh in public mind. So, they let RPF check. The lady occupying the nearby seat is concerned. She asks, “Kyon tang kar rahe ho bechare ko?”( why are you bothering him?”
People look up and want her to keep quiet. The questioning session goes on. The train is nearing Kalyan.
”Tum logon ko sirf uska saman chahiye! Arre logon, yeh bechara mehnat kar ghar kuch laya hai aur yeh nikamme use lena chahte hain. Hamare jaisa hai, Raipur ja raha hai. Kuch karo” ( you guys just want some goodies. The poor fellow has worked hard to bring some presents home and you good-for-nothings want to take it away? Hey people, he is like any of us, going to Raipur. Do something)
”Acchha Raipur Ja raha hai? Phir toh kuch karna hoga” ( He is going to Raipur, is he? Then let’s do something)
A group advances daring the RPF trainees. The train pulls in Kalyan outer. The two get off and disappear into darkness”
”Shukriya mayi”, Abdul salim says, eyes all wet. “ Main toh dar gaya tha” (Thank You, Mother. I was really frightened)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Accident Prone Kilometre

Driving down the National Highways of India, you get to see these boards now and then. Usually you find it near to a busy junction or sharp bend or blind turning the road. Similarly there are some people who can be called accident prone kilometer themselves. Things just happen to them in the most incredulous way, sometimes again and again. Let’s see what happened to Guptaji.

1. Guptaji and wife go to the railway station to receive some relatives. He wears a new kurta. As they stand on the platform, a train just leaves in the opposite direction and someone throws a pack of half eaten idli sambhar on to the platform or say directly onto Guptaji.

2. Guptaji buys a new car and parks it on the street. A coconut falls on a passing truck, gets deflected smashes the front screen.

3. Guptaji is going to home town by train. He has got himself a top berth so that he may sleep whenever he wishes to. In wee hours of morning, Guptaji tries to get down and discovers that someone had left the turkey towel to dry on the ladder. He jumps and promptly lands on to a fruit knife in open bag below.

4. Guptaji takes a holiday to Kerala. He is happy to see the greenery and fresh air and rolls down the windows of the taxi a take a fresh breath and gets splattered with puke. Someone has put his head out of the window to do so on the bus the taxi is overtaking.

5. Guptaji goes to enquire what the commotion is about in the marketplace. It seems a thief is being given the thrashing. And when the crowd wants to know who the accomplice is, he points to Guptaji and …

6. Guptaji comes home late after a party, changes clothes and goes off to sleep. In the morning, he goes to answer the doorbell and gets a queer look from milkman. He has his wife’s kurta on( all floral prints).

7. Guptaji( I.K Gupta) is a candidate at club election. And all the votes intended for him goes to L.K Gupta because the “L’ was written as ‘l’.

8. Guptaji’s Patient health card is borrowed by brother to avail free medical checkup and he eventually develops complications and dies. The PSU records now consider Gupta dead though he is very much alive. If he told the truth, he will be taken to court and his family will not get even a penny as compensation.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Celebrating 50

This is my 50th post and I would like to celebrate by giving away the Magic Blog award to some fellow bloggers. I like to read these blogs for various reasons. I like:
Insignia for her observations
Neha for her analysis
Aparna for her ruminations
Bikram for his takes on life, situations and customs
silverine for her humour
Destiny's Child for her wide angles and narrow escapes
RGB for her perfection
Karthik for his gift of writing
Anil Kurup for his quests
BK Chowla for his efforts for India
Kavita for information
wise donkey for her intense posts
Tomz for his out of the box posts
Swantantra for her simplicity
Shilpa for her variety posts
Lazy Pineapple for her humour and truthfulness
Sujata for anecdotes & Travelogues
Sana for her pure thoughts
Samvedna for her peaceful views

Monday, August 2, 2010

Comparing Notes

“Hello, we’re planning a get together. Come along. We can relive the good old times”, boomed Mr. Achuthan from the other end.

“Why not? Who else is coming”, asked Dad.

“Oh! The Menons, the Arvindakshans, the Nalinakshans, The Sudhakarans and the Surendrans.”

“ And Hemachandran?”

“ No. His mother in law is not doing fine.”

“Let me call him up”

Before I go further, this presumed get together was for some retired fellows most of them free with kids married and settled in far off places within India or in some foreign country.

“ Hello, Hemachandran? Ah! Why are you not coming over for the get together? You ask your brother in law to manage for a day, no?”

“Eeek! Should one bother?”

“Bother about what?”

“ What can we do? A pack of oldies who can’t drink or smoke or eat their fill? Compare notes on how much sugar one has or pressure? Or talk about the pains and aches? Iam not coming!”

Dad broke out laughing.