Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An Hour On Railway Station

It was six fifteen of the evening at the Pune railway station when I dropped my heavy suitcase and baggage on the platform. I took a good look around me and I noticed the amazing detail of observation of my class seven teacher, who had dictated that 500 words essay on railway stations. Things were there, exactly in the same place as described in that essay. The clock, the platform number-boards, the overbridges, the AH Wheeler Bookstalls, the people with large and small handbags, the speakers for announcements and, among other trivial and incidental things, railway trains.

I don’t usually travel by railways. So it was with the excitement of a second-standard student who notices stuff he’s only heard of in the classroom that I said—“Ma, wow, that’s a coolie!”

So, feeling as stupid as an ape, jumping in joy quite involuntarily when I saw such basic things on the platform, I found myself standing at the platform, with half an hour to kill before the Pune-Ahmedabad Ahimsa express was scheduled to arrive.

Meanwhile, in front of me, I could see a train. (And yeah, you guessed right- I jumped up and down on the balls of my feet and kept pestering mom till she allowed me to go and touch it. Are you satisfied?). I remembered that there is always a board on the bogies of the train on which you can read where that train is going to. But I couldn’t see that board from where I was standing (and I guess it must really have depressed me, because that was the only detail from the essay which I didn’t get to observe). Taking pity on me, my mom asked me to wait till the announcement is made.

(And so like the eternally enthusiastic little brat of seven years age) I went down to the place where I could see the speaker, so that I’ll know what train it was. In five seconds the announcement was made.

“May I have your attention please? The Garbled to Garbled, Damned Garbled Express will leave at its scheduled time of Garbled Hours and Even More Garbled Minutes from platform number Inexorably Garbled ”

(Crestfallen like a little child who realizes that his role model, the engine driver, doesn’t get to own a railway engine) I scurried back to mom, to tell her about the story of the garbled express. I was asked to check on it once more.

No point.

So I decided to screw the essay and junk the schoolish ‘observe what your textbooks have been trying to choke your nose with’ adventure, and took to a more mature and grown-up activity of observing the human life on the platform.

I faced an overload of samples.

A man with a towel wrapped around his waist and nothing else, with his perfectly spherical belly open to the public. Then this woman sitting by the window a little off, throwing banana peels on the platform and, I don’t know how it happened, eating banana chips (you have all sorts of nuts in the world, don’t you?). Then there were these two brats juggling two balls, which seemed to have a strange attraction towards the pot bellied chap (one of those balls did enter his towel… fun, eh?).


“May I have your attention please? The Garbled to Garbled , Damned Garbled Express will leave at its scheduled time of Garbled Hours and Even More Garbled Minutes from platform number Inexorably Garbled .”

There was a very reluctant hiss punctuated by a comfortable horn and the Garbled-to-Garbled Garbled express in front of us started moving from Platform Number Irrevocably Garbled. (Once again, the surge of childish excitement in me, so that mommy had to hold me by the collar to prevent me from chasing the train to touch it one last time).

Amidst such utter confusion, came the realization that the train we were going to board was half an hour late. This information ‘accrued to us’ from a fellow passenger who seemed to understand the railway announcement.

(The phrase ‘accrued to us’ made the previous sentence grammatically incorrect.)

Meanwhile, a cause to celebrate. It was Diwali season, and therefore a large bunch of the people on the train were students. The College Student is a different breed of the human being. The female College Student being a very interesting species. I had the ample opportunity to observe a few of those from close quarters.

To our right, there was a group of MIT Engineering students. (And yeah, that’s another ‘variety’ of the college student breed. And damn it, I hate them…)

They were all asking everyone (read as ‘me’) where the train was going to leave. Being a college student myself, I reckon only I was equipped to speak in their language.

(Adults face a genuine problem. Like, I mean, like, oh man, like, you know, like, if college students, I mean, like, you know, like, speak like this, like, I mean, like, then, like, it’s, I mean, you know, like, oh man (insert giggle here), it is difficult to, oh man, like, understand, like, isn’t it?)

( Tired of brackets? )

And it was amidst such utter chaos and confusion that the train I had been waiting for arrived, at around seven thirty. Of course, we got this information from a guy (who had a rather sumptuous belly and his face radiated an odd sense of contentment about it) who suddenly began chasing the AS-2 bogie with a vengeance.

(Once again the childish urge to give the guy a nice and sharp poke in his belly, just to see how he would heave and let out a mammoth sigh, similar to the sound of an out-of-commission steam engine being revived, quite against its mechanical desire, after seventy five years for the railway minister’s entertainment.)

And that is where chapter two of this madness begins…

(And such other statements that serve as ineffective and irritating advertisements of a possible review which may appear sometime shortly, urging you desperately to keep your eyes open for it and read it when I publish it, but actually ensuring that neither of it happens, thereby resulting in the misfortune that my first-time reader would never really read me frequently, unless he/she wishes to give his/her child a lesson in bad, boring, non-stylish, meaningless, dragging and stupid writing, in a bid to improve on the child’s high school essays, or if you want me to be more optimistic, in a bid to try and ensure those essays don’t rot to hell as a result of reading my reviews without parental guidance, and such other statements that will generally look stupid at the end of an already pretty stupid review, of course, not forgetting to mention that this is an extremely long sentence and since I don’t take in a new breath till my current sentence gets over and I start a new one, it becomes pretty obvious that I’ve gone a violent shade of blue, not forgetting to mention the retching sounds of a suffocating man that are engulfing the internet cafĂ© here, so I guess I’ll just insert a full stop somewhere random---.)

(Ah… I love abrupt ends)!

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