1. I hate travelling in second class sleeper trains. By the end of the 45 hour journey I am dirty sweaty and smell like a skunk and a stinky one at that. I was on a train which consisted of 300 christians coming back from a convention in channai. All the time I feared someone would come and burn the train down given the situation in Orissa and the sudden hatred towards Christians. I will never understand communal riots. Out of my closest friends, 3 are christains and one is a muslim and though it sounds very dramatic I would rather give my life than see them die.
On the other hand I love travelling in second class compartments. This is where you can see real india and its people, admire the green fields as they whiz by, capture a beautiful sunset, wave to the little kids working in fields, talk to people who try to convert u to Christianity by giving u books on the gospel of Christ, get invited to the house of some random stranger in ahmedabad whom u know for ten minutes and have them scold you when u politely refuse and tell them u have to immediately catch a bus to Jamnagar. Hmmm. I love this country!!
THE ELUSIVE SUNSET THAT I TRIED TO CAPTURE
2. I am yet to come across a toilet in second class sleeper trains without obscenities scrawled on the doors, near mirrors, above the commode etc. personally I think the toilets in Indian second class trains is where the Indian male gives vent to all his sexual fantasies. And its really not an advantage when u can read hindi, tamil and gujarati, the languages in which most of the obscenities are scribbled in along with graphic pictures. The reader might ask why this particular blogger wants to go and read the stuff written on the doors. All i can say is "Hey!! Two days in the train. I need some entertainment man!!" :P
3. After I got down in ahmedabad I had to catch an auto to reach a bus stand. I had been instructed by amma, not to give more that 30 bucks to the auto guy. Anything more would be daylight robbery she insisted. I catch and auto guy and try my rusty gujarati on the guy. Its been 8 years since I spoke gujarati with anyone and I do not miss a chance to practice. I tell him “mane paldi javoo che” including a nasal twang to achieve the authentic gujju effect. 40 rupees he says. Though this is the first time I am going to this place in ahmedabad I act like I own the place. I turn my nose up act like a seasoned gujju ben and say “hoon 30 aj aapun” (I will give 30 only). He smirks as if to say “I can see through u clearly, u pseudo gujarati” and says “Beso Beso ben” (sit sit sister). That’s one thing about Gujarat. Everyone is a sister or a brother. He drives in a way which would make schumi blush, skips all the signals and says ahemdabad has become a very unruly place. He asks me where I am from and I proudly say “hum to madras se aaye hain”. “Ahhh madras. Wahan to roads acche hotein hai na?” he says and I just gape at him and don’t say anything lest I blurt out the truth. In the end I end up giving him 35 bucks for all the entertainment he provided me.
4. I go to the travels guy and the luck of the Ramanan’s starts working again. I have been travelling fro 38 hours now and all I want to do is reach home, take a bath eat good food and go to sleep and this guy tells me he cant put me on the 10.00 o clock bus because only “gents” are there in the bus and he cant send “ladies” in that and puts me on the 11.30. I have 3 hours to kill. I eventually end up calling up all my friends at STD rates. I figure that since I am anyway not going to use my phone for the next two weeks I might as well talk and while away time. I also finish the last few pages of maximum city by suketu Mehta. One of the best books that I have EVER read and will ever read about Bombay. Its amazing. Thanks to maximum city I had no idea how two days flew by in the train. Amazing book. People who haven’t read it yet please do read it. Will do a review soon.
5. Reached Jamnagar at 6 in the morning to be received by two completely excited human beings who have been waiting at the bus stop for an hour now expecting me to come. My parents crush me in a hug and the bus driver smirks and says “utarne to do” (let her at least get down first). I have come up with a law for family. This is how it goes
a. If you visit home daily parents don’t care two hoots about u. you are scolded frequently, the food is on the table, the keys are with the neighbor, u can fend for yourself they say.
b. If you come home once in 2 months they worry about how thin u have become, make sure you eat your meals on time, there is ice cream in the fridge keys are still with the neighbor
c. If you come home once in 6 months you are a princess, your food is ready when u want it, your bed is made, you are fed sometimes, you are scolded very rarely and they don’t leave u alone and go.
d. If you come home once in 17 months (a la moi) you are treated like ROYALTY. Queen Elizabeth doesn’t get the kind of welcome you do. Your mom doesn’t say a word when without taking a bath you sit in front of the computer. She climbs up the stairs with the breakfast in hand and comes and gives ur breakfast to you. You just say “internet appa” and your dad disconnects his laptop and connects the PC to the modem. You just saunter into the bathroom and scream soap, shampoo, towel at regular intervals and have them handed to you without a word. 5 years back amma would have said “did u go to take a bath or go for a picnic” (I have never really understood the significance of this statement. I mean I thought people went prepared for a picnic. whatever).
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the daughter she sent looking like “Karnam Malleswari” comes back looking like “kallubai” the woman from the famine affected district in Orissa which hasn’t seen food in 10 days. Appa gives me one withering look and says “she has lost more weight than I did after my open heart. Feed her something” and that’s what I have been doing since I landed. Eating eating and more eating.