The Yellow Board
I took the train back to Chennai from KR Puram railway station. My host, my friend for life, Kamesh, was kind enough to drop me at the station, early morning on that Christmas Day.
We reached the station just few minutes before the arrival of the train. The queue in the ticket counter was so long that I couldn't want for Kamesh to buy his platform ticket to accompany me to the platform. Kamesh instructed me to find the parking lot of my reserved compartment 'D' from the board in the platform. I couldn't find the board written 'D' on it. I could find A,B and C.I was looking at the small boards that were hanging from the roof.
I walked from this end to that end, twice, looking for my compartment number, in vain. I finally decided to ask some one. I went near two ladies. Looked at the younger one and asked,"Yeh compartment kahan rukega?" showed my mobile for her to read the booking confirmation SMS. She didn't look at my mobile and blinked at me.
I again said,"Chennai Express, compartment D, kahan rukega?". She murmured something which I didn't understand.
I said,"Do you know English?". She smiled and shook her head twice, which meant a NO.
She smiled and nodded her head up and down twice. People were watching me strolling up and down with my mobile stretched forward. I felt like an uneducated nomad. There was a family standing next to the girl watching and listening to our conversation.
I walked forward a step ahead and asked a girl,"Do you know where the Compartment D would be parked?"
She answered,"You can find out from the board there. Which train?".
I said,"Chennai Express. But I could see other compartments and not D", pointing at the hanging boards.
She smiled and said,"Oh! you missed the large yellow board that shows the train names along with the parking spot of the compartments. Come with me"
I followed her. The large yellow board was erected right at the middle of the platform. I felt so shy and foolish to have missed that board that I laughed at myself.
She scanned the board for a few moments and said,"Your compartment would be parked in the place where you asked that girl. So lets go and wait there. In fact, I have bought a general ticket, though I have a tatkal ticket booked for me. But it is in waiting list. I shall ask the ticket checker to allot a cancelled seat for me."
I looked at her blankly. She understood and said,"Yeah, when your booked ticket is in waiting list and if you buy a general ticket before boarding the train, you can cajole the ticket checker to allot any of the cancelled seat, by giving him 'something'." I smiled at her.
The train arrived. People who were standing here and there started running towards the entrance of my compartment. The train would stop just for 2 minutes in that station. So,everybody wanted to get in before the train moved. I found no change in the behavior of the crowd.
The Fat LadyI had a reservation and my seat number was 49, the window seat. I don't remember the name of the station from where this fat lady boarded the train. She looked at me and said,"50,51,55 get up". I looked at her and she waved her hand at me and at those who were sitting next to me. The one next to me was an old lady and she took her own time to get up. Probably she didn't have a seat reserved for her. She was supposed to travel in a general compartment. The fat lady looked at me annoyingly. I actually laughed at her and showed the written seat numbers to make clear that my seat number was actually 49. She shouted until others got up. Her behavior looked so funny to me. She didn't even made an attempt to verify or ask for my seat number, before commanding me as well as the others to get up. After the seats were vacated by a handful of people, her husband, her daughter and herself took their seats and sat comfortably.
While this fat lady was preparing to sit I heard a loud argument just two rows ahead of me. I heard a girl shouting,"You should ask us politely, Mam. We have also reserved seats for us and we all are friends. We just want to sit near each other." LOL! I know why the girl was angry with that woman.
Uma, the Observer
I am a kind of person who is interested in observing and analyzing the actions and reactions of persons in any given situation. This fat lady just got inside the train carrying all her luggage. I guess she was tired because she helped her thin husband to carry the suitcases from home to the train. She must also be tired due to her body weight. She was upset because her seat was occupied. She just wanted to sit and relax ASAP. Until then her body would not cooperate with her mind to act in a more polite manner. I was right. Because after sitting comfortably on the opposite seat of mine, she was bit composed and quiet. She stamped on my feet almost ten times before making herself comfortable. She didn't bother to apologize. I know the leg space was too small to accommodate her big feat. I had to sit tight to make more leg space for her throughout the 6 hours journey. She smiled at me after some time. I smiled back at her. She tried to strike a conversation with me. But I was not interested. So I buried my face in the book I bought from Higginbothams, Jeff's 'Kane and Abel'.
I found Bangalore very very very cold. I returned to Chennai, with severe cold and throat infection. I had to pop a pain pill in the middle of the journey to feel better. After reaching the Park station from Chennai central station, I walked towards the ticket counter to buy the train ticket to Pallavaram. The girl who helped me in KR Puram railway station to find the parking lot of my compartment, was walking on the platform.
I smiled at her and said,"Oh! we are here again, together."
She smiled back and asked me,"Oh, yes. Where are you going?"
I said,"Pallavaram. And you?"
I asked,"What about the ticket?"
She said,"I have a monthly pass."
She walked away from me and I went to stand in the queue. There were five persons in the queue already. I was the sixth and the last. A guy came and stood beside me. I thought he has come along with some one else who was already standing in the queue somewhere.
After a while, he went to the guy who was standing before me and said,"Kannada"?
This guy looked at him questioningly. He said again,"Neenu Kannada?" and added,"Oru ticket Tambaram."
The guy who stood before me said in Tamil,"Queuela vaanga." (Stand in the queue)
The "Kannada" guy went back to stand in the queue. Three more persons were standing behind me in the queue now.
I bought the ticket and started to climb up the overhead bridge to the platform. The train to Pallavaram arrived and came to a halt. I was still climbing down the stairs, carrying my rolling travel suitcase. I didn't want to run down with the heavy suitcase, so I climbed down in normal speed. The train didn't leave the station until I boarded the ladies compartment. I found a vacant seat and went to sit there. The same girl was already sitting in the opposite seat of mine. This time we both laughed.
I said," I am back to you, again."
She playfully said,"Are you not going to leave me?"
I said,"Nope. I feel grateful to you. Because you helped me in Bangalore."
She said,"Oh! that's ok."
I got down in Pallavaram, waved my hand at her and said bye for the last time. She smiled and waved her hand back at me. Some people come into our life for a reason, a season or a life time.
Luv u all