The train to the Past

The train to Nowhere

Indian Railways – the lifeline of India have often been criticized nowadays for being too crowded, dirty and generally for being 2 generations behind every other national railway system. But for me trains have always been a source of something important – memories. Memories that have been stored in the deep recesses of the mind to be explored and nitpicked at in times of need, when nothing else suffices. Well, today I felt the desire to share some of these memories with you. Maybe some of these will wake up the traveler in you and urge you to travel those distant lands.

 

Growing up as a Keralite living in Gujarat, Train journeys were an integral and much welcome part of my life during childhood. Going to Kerala each year during the summer vacations was a big deal because of the cousins and the place in general. And since we went by train, the train journey was an exciting part of this experience.

First 8 years of my life the annual trip was Rajkot to Kuttippuram and back. The trip used to take 2.5 – 3 days depending on the route you took. I remember

  • The excitement at Rajkot station as we got onto the train with all our luggage. I was usually handled the responsibility to carry the Milton water jug. Before this I also remember getting water in those rubber bottles which were then hung out from the train with hooks
  • The scramble towards the corner seats. These were not only best for the view but also to put your hand out and feel the wind against it.
  • Those ashtrays near each window. Never found any cigarette in them. It was just fun to turn them around. They went extinct after the public smoking ban
  • Waiting for the different vendors to come and ask Dad to buy something from them. Come rain or snow I always succeeded in getting the pazhampuri coz my Dad loved it too.
  • Getting on to the platform at each and every station with Dad, just to fill water from the nearest water fountain
  • The change in the sound of the train when it passed over a bridge, especially a long bridge like the Narmada one or the one near Vijaywada.
  • The millions of questions to Dad
    • Where does the TT sleep?
    • Why are the trees going back?
    • Signal Kyu nahi mil raha train ko
    • Can I sleep on the upper birth?
    • When does the comics vendor come?
  • Taking bath in the train, coz the train journey was fucking long – 3 days..
  • The one time when our bogie was left in Palakkad to be picked up by some other connecting train.
  • The utter darkness and the peculiar noise when the Train passed through long tunnels
  • Making new Friends on the train, and finding ways to play cricket inside the compartment.

 

As I grew up, the journeys shortened and the memories changed, but the excitement was always there. When Sleeper Class journey was upgraded to 3rd AC, some of the magic was lost. How can I put my hand out, I asked? I had to settle for some lesser sources of entertainment, like switching the overhead reading lights on and off repeatedly to see how long till they burnt out. Even the vendors were limited now. Instead of the Kadak Meethi chai that was peculiar to each station, we had to be satisfied with the monstrosity that was the train caterers “DIP Chai” – Itne Paise mai itna hi milenga.. Even the Bathrooms were cleaner. Where was the challenge to hold onto the bars whie taking a shit in an Indian Toilet in a moving train in a sleeper Class. 3rd AC had Western toilets that too clean ones. One couldn’t even have a view of the outside when the train was speeding. But What to do – Papa k LTA mai 3rd AC milta tha.  Well, necessity is the mother of invention. Like any evolutionary human being I adapted. I began to spend more time reading books/novels. Thus trains too played an important role in cultivating my reading habit.

Railway Stations were also a constant treasure trove of things to do. Waiting for a train was tiring, but a railway station can never be boring. There was always

  • An A H Wheeler Book Stall to be found. Browsing through the latest editions of comics and sportstar magazines and selecting the 2-3 books that were allowed to be bought for that trip
  • A Chai ki Dukaan
  • Himachal Apple Juice Stall
  • Hundreds of Waiting Passengers who could tell millions of stories if they were observed properly

 

I might be 3 decades old, but every new train journey still carries some of that wonder. I still got excited my first time in a double decker train. I almost always check the reservation chart outside the door for any F – (21-31) seated near me, before every journey. The one time when I slept on the floor on newspapers when I didn’t have a confirmed ticket.

 

What do trains remind you of? What are your dearest memories regarding them? Am I the only one to be saddled with such memories? Share Away…

 

 

P.S – My last train journey was also memorable in that I sent back an entire dinner in a Shatabdi. I swear it will be the first and only time such a thing happens. And while I am writing this, I remember that I had put the Soan Papdi from that meal in my bag to be consumed later. Well, Later is tonight and now.. Adios.

Redux SBU

 

 

379907

 

When you are too dumb to realize you are making a mistake, does the price that you pay reduce proportionately? Apparently not. In fact it catches you off guard and bites you in the butt like that rabid dog your society never could get rid off.

Evolution’s a fickle bitch..

 

Happy Diwali – here is your Soan Papdi..

India during Diwali is a sight to behold. All of a sudden, for these 5-7 pious days, the city is filled with well intentioned, god trusting and sensitive people. People start believing in being nice to people they know, start inviting them to their houses; hell even the maids start behaving nicely – you know that when they start sweeping the corners they had long ignored.

As a guy who is oblivious to the ways of the world, I was quite intrigued. Until I found out, according to some pre-written law, Diwali is the time of the year when all your asshollery of the year can be forgotten and you can be blessed with untold wealth only if you do the following:

  • Shower gifts of sweets, cutlery and dry fruits on your near and dear ones. Of course they are expected to revert with gifts of similar or more value
  • Pray to Laxmi devi and light some Divas in your shop/house – no matter how many unfortunate souls you squeezed off during the year
  • Observe a whole lot of social customs which don’t make an iota of sense only so that the uncle who only met you once your whole lifetime, doesn’t take offence
  • You fast for 2 days (not eat chicken) so that your soul is purified of the sins committed by you between Navratri and Diwali

Indians surely are a bunch of strange people. They have long started to subscribe to the belief that their sins can be washed off by just 2-3 days of good behaviour. As if fasting and not eating Non-veg on a Tuesday will absolve them of the sin of mistreating their fellow human beings on a daily basis. Just travelling 400 kms in an AC bus to visit a temple will make GOD forget the times when you lied to your family. Diwali is that time when these behaviours are legalized as customs.

 

So get our your Soan Papdis for your neighbours and those dry fruits for your unknown uncle. You only have 1 week to call back Goddess Laxmi to you house. What are you gonna do?

FACE VALUE

To Take something at Face Value

The dictionary defines it as – to accept someone or something just as it appears. 

Well, we Indians have been guilty of doing this for quite some time now. You want examples, you say??? Well here you go

  1. Honey Singh music – Well, I dare you to ask some of this teens and Post Teens of today with FB statuses as – “Not Working, Still Studying ha ha ha”, 20 years from now about their favorite Honey Singh song. I guarantee most of them will draw a blank. In fact most of them will ask you to check their spotify profile to confirm. The guy is just that. Even I have some of his songs in my day to day playlist, but I still change it with an occasional Rahman song every now and then
  2. Politician Promises – whether it be your Aam Aadmi Kejriwaal or your devta PM Narendra Modi, the promises they made during the election would never be fulfilled immediately. You either have to see your expectations dwindle down during the first 6 months itself or wait the full 5 years for him to implement a part of the plan. You have got to be patient. Politics is like advertisement. You never get what you are promised fully.
  3. Indian Cricket Team Potential – They will always have that potential till Rohit Sharma is in the team. But you can never expect quick results from them with the way BCCI is built. If you are going to let an organization with no accountability manage the affairs of the favorite sport of the country, you have to wait it out to let natural selection form the best team once in every 5 years or so. Then maybe you can win the WORLD CUP.
  4. Social Media Shame Posts – After the example of the Rohtak sisters and the current jasleen kaur case, I have been wary of sharing any shaming posts on Social media without any adequate representation from both sides. Although Social Media has done a lot of good recently in raising concern for serious issues, we have got to limit the herd mentality when it comes to sharing sensitive issues. Do your own investigation and ensure that both sides are represented before shaming someone’s son or husband for some crime that you are not even sure he has committed.
  5. Life Partner decisions – Take it from an experienced hand, choosing a life Partner should never be taken at Face Value. She/He may be pretty/handsome, but if you don’t delve deeper and try to find out a real connection, you will be staring down the barrel of some unfortunate decisions 6-12 months after marriage
  6. Abhishek Bacchan Solo Movies – Sure they have good production values. They might even have top level co stars. His dad might even manage to score some decent director.But you have to look beyond all this. When you are buying the tickets to an Abhishek Bacchan solo movie, you are investing in something whose returns are lower than the lottery. So please do some research before encouraging that guy. Buy your kids some ice cream instead.. Really

Well, I can only come up with this much now. But you understand the gist of it. Keep your minds open. Don’t follow the herd. Make informed decisions and stop disturbing others with your impulsive social media sharing.

Seriously, they should start a new Social media platform wherein everybody can keep on sharing their unchecked, impulsive and not at all thought out political beliefs (maybe – POLITICOBOOK). Maybe then the rest of us can lead a peaceful, stress free Social media existence.

 

Sarath

 

P.S : – Will there be a time when we can be free of Social Media or is this only going to get worse? I miss those times, when people had to actually call or meet others to gossip about their fellow beings..

The dark side

The Tubelight in my room’s been blown off to heaven.. God rest it’s soul.. The incident happened last night when it ended it’s journey on this earth with a loud pop and a burning smell..

In its absence I have been leading a life pretty similar to what our ancestors used to lead; of course they didn’t have the laptop and the fan working but still I am pretty much in the dark ages now, living by whatever little light that filters out of the adjacent rooms..

Now you would ask, why didn’t I repair the damn thing or go to my friends’ rooms.. ? I have kinda started liking the dark.. You know why???

  1. One can’t look at one’s bulging tummy in the dark and so that’s one less reason to be sad off.
  2. One doesn’t have to study anything; how can anyone expect me to
  3. Horror movies look even more awesome when watched in the dark
  4. It’s simply awesome to play such games in the dark as “Where did I keep my Damn socks>”, “Is that my cold cream or my toothpaste I am putting on my face?”, “What did I step on just now, my clothes or a mouse>”, “Where’s the question mark key on the keyboard> “
  5. It’s in a strange way more peaceful and calm for the mind.. The tubelight sometimes fills your already cluttered mind with irrelevant thoughts.. it’s more easier to think in the dark.

Just pray that the hostel authorities take 1-2 more days to replace the bulb.

N one more thing; it’s hot like hell in Delhi. It seems like when God created Delhi he said to the people, ” Here you go guys, a place where there is almost no rain, where the cold freezes your bones and the heat then bakes them. Go enjoy yourself”

Till Next Time

Sarath