Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Great Indian Railways

Me and trains, we are linked by something deeper than the season tickets. For instance, the day before I was born, Amma decided that it was better to “download” me at her ancestral place in Kanjirapally rather than at Kollam, so she boarded a train which was newly inaugurated on that very same day. Appa still considers that as one of the dumbest things she ever did, on the other hand, I am angry at her for not downloading me on the train. That would have meant free travel for a lifetime.

Traveling in Indian trains is always a mind broadening affair. The number of people you meet, the friendships you strike up, the food you share, the songs you sing, the vendors who cajole and push you into buying the food stuff, the filth, the smell and the Good Byes. In short, the amount of “life” in each journey is extremely high.

I and Appa used to frequently go to Trivandrum by train. During these journeys when Amma was not around, Appa would play a game with me. After the train whistle is blown, Appa would ask me to start pushing on the windows “to start the train”. Poor me, I used to believe that I was the guy who actually started the train with my superman strength. But I guess it was good for my self esteem. Anyways, I have decided I will play the same prank on my kids too!

Damn the crowd
When I think of trains, the first thing that comes to mind is their peculiar “iron” smell, the next is the crowd. I don’t know how many billion people the Indian Railways carry each year, but it is definitely no small number! Like most other compatriots, I have traveled in every “position” possible. From sitting comfortably on a seat, to crouching on the floor, to standing on one foot in the loo, to hanging out from the door doing some “wind surfing”. Depending on the crowd, I have felt like I would suffocate to death, get slowly cooked in the heat, die of cancer from the illegal smoker who has to smoke even when you cant get a single breath and a lot more!

Discovery of India
“The real India lies in its villages” or something similar was once said by the Mahatma. In the same vein, any “discovery of India” will be incomplete without extensive train journeys. The villages, the scenery, the dilapidated bridges, the poverty, the wealth, the beauty, the mountains, the sea….. the railways show you everything. The best and the worst, with nothing hidden!

Desibaba on a train
Except for trips to Madras, my train journeys were fairly short 3-4 hour episodes. But that changed when Amma along with Appa’s sisters decided to ditch their husbands and go for a trip to North India. But they wanted one male to carry their bags and basically act as a non-obtrusive escort for their escapade. Since I was hanging around jobless after my engineering, it was no wonder that I was an obvious choice.

The journey itself was fantastic. We got nearly two nights and two days on the train, but the real “fun” started somewhere near Indore. It was sometime in the afternoon and I was lying down half asleep in my window side berth, when this reasonably good looking Auntie comes and sits near my foot. Before she sits down though, she pushed my legs a little to the side to get some room.

I half opened my eyes and then closed them, but a few minutes later, she was doing something with my feet which woke me up again. She was trying to arrange them, as if they were some inanimate objects. In the end, she put one of my feet on top of the other, then put her arm around the top one and rested her breast on the bottom one! I put on a “what the f***” look on my face, and an “ooo man this is my lucky day” look in my mind.

Out of the corner of my eye, I took a peek at my mother and saw to my dismay that she was giving an appraising “CBI” look at this saintly lady. I had hoped that she wouldn’t notice, but that was not to be….:( This is the problem with mothers. They can’t take a lil bit of innocent fun in the right sense! Now, I had to show my “displeasure” regarding my foot hijack. So I wiggled my toes, which naturally had the reverse affect. She held tighter now! Unfortunately she also gave me a conspiring look in full view of my mother. I am no groper and didn’t plan on becoming one right in front of my mother, so no-heartedly I was forced to pull out my legs from their utopian embrace. I still remember that occasion as the best part of my North Indian trip….:)

Those were the best trains of my life
But the best train journeys I had were the ones to Chengannur. Every weekend there would be at least 20 people from my college in the train, enough to cause a general riot. We used to sing, play games and have a whale of a time in the train. When my stop came, I would feel so bad about getting down, that I always seriously considered going on till the next station.

Normally, I never travel without a ticket though a lot of my class mates did that. I was always in love with the Indian Railways. To travel ticket less, was like cheating somebody in the family. But on rare occasions when I did travel without a ticket, I was never caught, except once. The fun fact being that actually I had a ticket till Ernakulam, but I decided to get down at Aluva and that is where I got caught. The ticket checker took one look at my angelic face and for some reason decided that I was up to no good (is there something written on my face?) and asked me for my ticket.

I begged and pleaded for quite some time. It was late in the night and I guess he was sleepy too, so in the end, he let me off with stern warnings. One more reason for me to love the great Indian Railways!

P.S: I remembered all this when I saw the mal film “No. 20 Madras Mail” and decided to post it.


N!$#@N^# said...

I think you should right a blog on KSRTC and also on the people who love to travel in it(Rameez, Nikhil..etc.. etc.. ) lol...

pinne Aby i don't think you will ever play Superman or any other man... hahahhahaha...

A good wirte up though... :-)
And the train journey did remind me of Saint Albatross : -))))

Anonymous said...

i guess the one called nishanth, is one fanatic fan of urs

Abraham Menacherry said...

Nishanth: I dont want to be banned in blogosphere for explicit adult content...:D. Saint Albatross was one of the funniest things that ever ever happened.... he he he... maan I cant believe that we were that stupid!

Anonymous: To be very modest, the most part of the known universe will fall under the same category...:D
It is just that all my other fans are reclusive non-commentors or reclusive "anonymous" commentors...:)

TESSIE said...

nice one :)... i meant the whole blogspot is too good....finished reading the whole thing in two days....
pinney the things i assumed about u after reading ur blog....
an achayan from somewer around kottayam now with a s/w firm in b'lore... studied in chengannur engg college.... a not so bad brat... (u made me feel like i'm a saint, dude... thnx )
("why the hell did i say all that"????) mmm... just wanted to leave a huge cmnt....
:)(chk out ma blog if u feel like am a lunatic... i really am )
and i did leave cmnts for 2 of ur earlier posts

anon said...

the "anonymous" have a name , but giving u admonishment , is just not my thing ...........
"It is just that all my other fans are reclusive non-commentors or reclusive "anonymous" commentors...:)"
i guess the only "one"left out would be GOD...

Abraham Menacherry said...

tess: Thank u for the "nice" things you have said about me...:D and i am only half achayan, Appa is not from that part of town. I'm in process of checking out your mal blog.... the first post itself was very nice!
Anon: now you try to take my identity!!!

Celeste said...

Good words.