October 7, 2010

Back on track...

It all started on a summer morning in May 2009.
I stood on platform number one of Lingampally station, waiting for the train to get to Rajbhavan Road. My first day at my first job.
The train came, I got in, got off at Necklace road station after 45 minutes, and walked to my office. That same afternoon, after an uneventful first day, I took a train back to Lingampally.
I think, I can safely mark that day, May 1st 2009, as the day when my tryst with the MMTS began.

What followed were days of running for the train (I’m not exaggerating), waiting on the platform endlessly, getting worried then pissed off, because first of all, I was taking a later train, and that itself was late. You start noticing the same people everyday, a pattern sets in. If I see a certain bunch of women on the platform, I know the train hasn’t come yet. If there’s a passenger train on platform one, I know my train is late by fifteen-twenty minutes.

One of my friends used to call the 9:10 train my boyfriend. :) …I would wake up late, rush through coffee and getting ready, and I would literally run to the station. Every single day, I used to test my luck, by leaving from home 2-3 minutes late, and believe me, even two-three minutes count a lot. I would reach the platform out of breath, and there it was, waiting for me to arrive. I would get in, and the very minute, it would leave the station. And I would sit at almost the same seat in the same ladies’ compartment every day. Nothing else would do. To the point that if I couldn’t get my usual seat, I had an impending sense of doom, that my day would not go well if I sit somewhere else. My entire day used to be planned depending on the train-timings. When I took out the timetable to check the timings, my friends used to say that I’m taking out my Bible. :)
I’ve read so much sitting in the train, coz that’s the only time I used to get to read.
There would be women jabbering away about the price of rice and dal, their children’s examination, husband’s promotion.. All one has to do is lend an ear. Full entertainment.
Sometimes, workers would get in, with their duplicate phones, and Altaf Raja would be belting out ‘Tum tho thehre pardesi, saath kya nibhaaogeeeee..’ So many times I’ve wanted to snatch their phones and throw it away..

The return journey was not as easy. The trains at night would be a minimum of half an hour late. I used to think, my entire life would probably pass just waiting for the ‘sir’ to arrive. And then it would waddle along at its own sweet pace, and then unashamedly stall in between for another twenty minutes. By the time I get home, it would be two hours since I left office. Necklace Road station is where I spent a lot of time brooding, laughing, crying, thinking, looking at the lake in the distance. The benches there would know…

There was a time when I reached the station 9:15 at night, to take the 9:30 train. It came at 10:30 finally. And I reached home at 11:15, all alone. I still don’t know how I survived that day. I guess living alone hardens you to a large extent. Another time, I reached the station to take the last train back- 9:57pm. The station was pitch dark,no electricity, with just a handful of people, and I don’t remember seeing any women. There were no policemen either. Somebody passed a comment. I actually prayed that day. I promised myself and god I wouldn’t try to do such brave stupid things ever again.

The best thing about travelling by public transportation is that you get to see a lot of people, all ages and classes. And some you can never forget. Like there was this one girl I used to see everyday taking the same train as me in the morning, and sometimes the same one back. She was very pretty, and probably had been married recently, going by the traditional bangles on her slender wrists. She was very beautiful, and I always used to stare at her. And then a few months later, I saw a small bump forming on her stomach. For some inexplicable reason, I was silently happy for that strange girl. Then one night, I was in the train back home, and she got in from the next station. Her tummy had grown a bit more by then. It was pretty late, around 9 in the night. She sat looking out of the window. There was fatigue written on her face. Then slowly, her eyes started closing due to the fatigue, and her head was rolling from here to there. I felt sad for her, I don’t know why. Wasn’t there anybody to come and pick her up from office, especially when she was pregnant? Why was she having to work in this condition? Did her husband not treat her well? Did she have to go back home now and cook dinner? There were so many questions in my head. Her beauty seemed very melancholic at that moment. I hope, wherever she is now, she’s happy, and so is her baby.

Another time, a lady got in with her daughter and occupied the seat opposite me. She was a daily wage labourer, I could make out. Thin as a reed, with an excuse of a sari covering her, she looked as though she hadn’t eaten and slept in days. And her little daughter, not more than four years old, holding her mother’s hands and sitting, her innocence still intact. I looked at them for a while, then resumed looking out of the window. After a while, I could feel somebody’s eyes on me. I looked up to see the little girl looking at me curiously, and she suddenly looked away when I caught her eye. So I decided to stare at her, and she kept darting glances at me, then she held my gaze. We looked at each other for a few seconds, and I smiled at her. I got the sweetest smile in return. I can never forget it. I rummaged in my bag and found an apple and gave it to her. She took it without hesitation and gave me another big smile. She may not have learnt yet to say thank you, but that smile was equivalent to a million thank you’s. After a while, I noticed that the lady had started crying. Weeping, her chest heaving. Her daughter, not knowing what was happening, kept looking at her, holding her hand. Then she rested her head on the little girl’s lap, and that innocent little thing was gently stroking her mother’s head, comforting her like only a kid can. The lady then took out a pen she had and scribbled something on the girl’s hand. There was a moment of terror in my heart. What is she writing down? Why is she writing it down? Is it a number that people can contact and hand over the girl to when the mother’s body is discovered? I don’t know…I was scared for the little girl. A little while later, I looked up from the book I was reading, and they were gone..just like that. I don’t know when they got down, which station..I only remember praying for that innocent little thing who had gifted me a beautiful smile.

After travelling by train for a year, my office shifted, and it was getting difficult to take the train anymore. So I started travelling by road. It saved me time. But it was just not the same. And now that I’ve changed jobs, and because I’m tired of fighting with the f*&%^#g auto drivers, I’ve decided to resume my rendezvous with my old flame again. I’m prepared to wait endlessly. I’m looking forward to get some reading done. My daily dose of exercise (running) has started. And I wonder why I don’t put on weight.

Yup, I’m back on track.

57 comments:

  1. Your best as yet.

    "Romance", joy, concern, fear, poignancy...most of life's better emotions captured. Life takes you through a journey while moving you from one place to another.

    Loved it. Well done.

    Cheers.

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  2. The time I was in Delhi and staying at JNU,I had to walk for about half a km to the main gate before I got a ric or bus. During my daily morning walk, there was a lady whom I saw daily, who used to walk from the gate towards the campus. Almost everyday I used to meet her at the same spot. It was like a natural clock. Depending on where I meet her, I would know if I'm late or early. Depending on the pace at which she walked I would guess if I am the one who is late or she is the one. Don't know how it was for her though...

    This post reminded me of that. Enjoyed reading it...

    And I pray that child, mother and the then expecting lady are safe and happy!

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  3. @Mushy: Thank you so much.
    @Arun: Was the girl cute? :P

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  4. @ Spaceman Spiff
    Why do you think I walked the same path day after day even if there was an easier path!!!

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  5. @Arun:Ayya! She must've dreaded walking that route, in that case.

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  6. @ Spaceman Spiff
    Or probably thats why she never looked up while walking. Not a very pleasant sight in the early morning. And that was the time I was inspired by the last life of Jim Morrison. So no haircut, no shaving and since Delhi was 0 degree, almost no bathing too!

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  7. @Arun: Best alle!! every girl's dream.

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  8. Yes I know (Suraj style)
    Like Rajen told me..its okay to do pot and look decent, bout not okay to not do pot and look like you do!!!
    I accept I did look like a mass murderer or a rapist out on the prowl!!

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  9. Yes.In my blog, i forgot to mention how you accompanied me in the train once when your spectacles got smashed, looking at every lady like a rapist. and to think i convinced you to get into the ladies' compartment!! LOL!! that was fun!

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  10. Oh ya...good that you convinced me to get in with you! if not you would've had to pick me up from the tracks somewhere after the mass practiced all forms of attacks on me. I remember sitting in my office with my sunglasses on!!!

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  11. @Arun: What re! you're in Hyderabad.even if you wear sunglasses while sleeping, they'll only think you're the epitome of high fashion. kya mamu!:P

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  12. @ Spaceman Spiff
    Ha ha ha...very true. But you've to waer matching silver shirt with black likes and tight jeans with flowers on it!! only then will the whole look be complete.
    Sunglasses - makes a complete Hyderabadi

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  13. Dont forget dirty brown colour on your hair. i mean, cool brown colour.:P

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  14. quite substandard. yeah, the daily scenes are catchy but there is a monte-carlo effect to the whole thing. if you get the drift of what i am saying that is

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  15. @Kaali: No i don't get the drift. WOuld you mind blowing the wind a little stronger so that i can get the drift. I would really appreciate that. Thank you.

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  16. @ Kaali
    As a regular reader of the blog and being a blogger myself.

    Monte-Carlo effect?
    Well..not too sure about the term. Could you please explain?
    Quite interesting term though! so please grace me on this. Maybe I can incorporate it in my blog too!

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  17. ta-da! too many defenders i say!
    So lets start with Arun John, the blogger - Monte-carlo effect is nothing but another term for cliche. I, having read all other posts by Spaceman Spiff (and admittedly being a fan of them)felt that I am looking through a pair of camera lens and not really reading a blog. This is just a snapshot, not a blog (this particular post, mind). It captures the motions of a day passed by and not really a heart that feels it all

    @Spaceman Spiff - You can do better. Create the spaceman charm. Your writing can be made precious. Just concentrate on writing than capturing a day :)

    Cheers

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  18. @Kaali: WOW!!! Insightful!! I’m enlightened!!
    Dude, who’s getting defensive here? Pick out at least one line that shows that we were getting defensive. I, unlike some people I know, take criticism with a pinch of salt. Although, there are a few things that I would like you to clear up :
    1) If you felt as though you were looking through a camera lens, then I believe I’ve been quite successful in my descriptions. I made you visualize it, not just read it.
    2) Of course my writing is clichéd. Do you know why? Because I write about life as I see it around me, not an imaginary world. How can I mess around with reality? And life, much as we deny it, is clichéd.
    3) I have not captured ‘the motions of a day passed by’, but of moments that made the day different, memorable, and that too of many days over a year. Would you mind reading it again? (No compulsion, though, since you found it substandard. I wouldn’t want to put you through the torture again :) ).
    4) If, as you mention, you’ve read all my posts before this and you’re a fan of my writing too, how come you never posted any good comments on any of that, but chose to single out the one post that you felt is ‘substandard’ and then criticized it? Do you think that’s fair?
    5) And yes, my style of writing in this post is nothing different from what I’ve written in my other posts too. So in that case, are all my posts clichéd? Well, then I guess I should just stop writing.
    6) ‘Standard’ is a very relative term, you know. Who sets the standard? You? Me? God? And if speaking democratically, I should be happy because the standard is set by the majority and the majority thinks my blog is standard, if not exceptional.
    7) I appreciate your comments, I really do. I’m sure you have a stronger hold on writing than I do. Can I read something you’ve written?
    8) I would like to get a better understanding of ‘Monte Carlo’ effect. Can you please send me a url of where you read it from?

    I’m not defending myself, nor am I out for a debate. As a writer, an honest feedback will only help me grow. Thanks for calling my writing precious. Someone else has also called it precious. Of course, you wouldn’t know him. :)

    @Arun: How dare you try to defend me??? Don’t you know it’s against the laws of blogging??!! Shame on you!

    Thanks kaali! Cheers!!!

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  19. @ kaali

    Hey, thanks for the info on monte carlo effect. But I am afraid, I cannot blindly believe you as I myself am a literature graduate and my network among the literary crowd if I may call, it is quite huge, but none of them seemed to have heard about the 'monte carlo effect'. But again, seeing is believing, so if its ain't much of a trouble could you gimme some link or so which leads to this theory or mail it to me or something. Please don't think this is again being defensive, Just that I don't want to use it somewhere and be the butt of jokes.

    And I am sorry if you found my comment asking for monte carlo effect defensive. It wasn't meant to be, but quite amusing to see that you thought it is!

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  20. @ Spaceman Spiff

    How come my friend, people think we defend each other when all we do is pull each other's leg even in public. people, i tell you are wierd, not us!!

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  21. @Arun: Maybe we're not pulling each other's leg enough. Maybe we should openly start abusing. Being abusive has proved to help people out of many a sticky situation, you know. ;)
    So, i'l start. Poda koppe.
    Your turn.

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  22. @ Spaceman spiff
    Abusing is the last resort of a scoundrel or a politician losing an election or a impeached judge or such people ...so I am abstaining myself from it! I cannot lower my esteem in a public forum like a blog!!
    And please if you abuse, abuse in a tongue people understand so that they know how mean you are and how neat a guy I am!

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  23. @ Spaceman Spiff

    But lemme also tell you, you are quite abuse worthy!!!

    I feel like putting my hands away from the system in some jar because right now my hands are itching to abuse you, but I being such a decent guy cannot abuse you in public! wait till I see you next!!!

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  24. @Arun: Unfortunately, i don't know the english equivalent for koppe. Are you aware of it? Or is any abuse in english acceptable to you?

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  25. @Arun: Magane, maangayulla maavile aalugal kalleriyaarullu..kettittille ee banana talk?

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  26. @ Spaceman

    English is a foreign language yet I am dependent on it. I can accept abuses in English, but lemme warn you. It'll be a one sided abuse space. I will not abuse you. You are free to wash your linen in public if you wish.
    For all you people reading the blog. I unlike Spaceman is a decent cultured guy who doesn't abuse in public or swear at people. On the other hand she, as you must have noticed ain't quite like that.
    I request you spaceman..please behave like a grown up person and becoming of a cultured woman!

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  27. And lemme also tell you people. Her secret intent is trying to provoke me to abuse and keep on replying is a stunt to increase the number o comments she gets!!!

    If you want more comments you shouldn't be writing 'substandard' stuff you know!!!

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  28. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  29. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  30. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  31. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  32. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  33. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  34. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  35. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  36. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  37. @Arun: If i want more number of comments, i can do this.

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  38. @ Spaceman
    Damn good man..you're proving to be a know it all in blogs!! I am so amazed and impressed at your comment increasing skills!!! maybe you could float a theory of your own now on how to increase commenting activity!!!

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  39. Yippe! 40th comment..ho, now i can log off and go home. what a productive day at work.

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  40. lol
    interesting piece of conversation happening here :)
    well, its getting colder out here in Europe. So here I am,with some wine in hand, looking forward to reading more from you spaceman spiff and Arun John.
    Cheers!
    Kaalimirchi.
    (monte-carlo effect is there in Bible. SEARCH!!)

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  41. Hi Kaali/KaaliMirchi/Mirchibajji

    I am forced to believe this monte carlo effect is a fictional creation or the figment of an imagination. Because:

    (a) If at all the so called Monte Carlo effect has a biblical reference then come what may, it should have at least a mention in the Google or the Internet which unfortunately there ain't any

    (b) I admit that I haven't read the Bible myself completely, but I come from a family which has many priests and all of them testify there ain't any biblical reference of Monte Carlo effect. But again all of them including me could be wrong. So if you can give me your email id I can mail you the pdf version of the King James version of the Bible which I believe you know is considered to be the best in the world.

    (c) The Italian name Monte Carlo is a derivation from the word Mount Charles. It is a very recent nomenclature, as recent as 1866. Then I would like to know how it was mentioned in the Bible which was written approximately 1700 years before.

    Anyway thanks to you! Honed my research skills over the past 2 days! Hope you enjoyed your wine.

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  42. @Kaalimirchi/Radiomirchi: Wow, my blog has a follower from Europe. I’m going global! Which part of Europe are you from? And a word of advice: rum and whiskey would serve you much better than wine in the winters, believe me!
    Still awaiting your clarifications to my queries.
    @Arun: It’l be there in the bible, arun. Search properly! And while you’re at it, search the Bhagavad Gita and Quran too. Who knows, you might find it in one of them.
    And the Bible was well ahead of its times. Maybe Jesus wore Monte Carlo robes or He must've sent Mathew on a Monte Carlo race-track for his birthday!!
    I'm having grape-juice now, but still, Cheers!!!

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  43. Spaceman!!!
    How can you forget the disputed Vodka!!! You mentioned rum and whiskey! Now sentiments of Vodka is hurt..go spike your grape juice ;-)

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  44. @Arun: I mentioned rum and whiskey coz one of my dear dear friends talks more abt it than anything else. so it kinda stuck in my head.
    And spiking my grape juice might be a good idea. It might take away some of the boredom arnd here-not mine, of others, 'if you get the drift of what i'm saying, that is'. :P
    I'll buy a hip-flask and carry it around from tomorrow. If anyone asks, i'll say its medicine. :P

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  45. Dear Friend!
    If you've to go by your dear friend's constant reminding it should be beer and rum, not whiskey and rum :-P
    And I didn't get the drift! Please blow harder :-P

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  46. Oh sorry sorry. Beer and rum. but since beer is not for the winters, i skipped it. And hello, watch your language!! Blow harder??!!!what nonsense!!!

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  47. @ Grammar Nazi
    Beer is for all seasons...
    Many a time I've thought about giving up beer...honest!
    But each time I see a bottle...I think about the labor behind that one bottle! The people who work in the factories. Their dreams, their aspirations, their lives...it depends on people like me! And if I give up drinking...isn't it a blow to their dreams and ambitions?
    Ah...there is a pleasure in drinking for others!

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  48. @Arun: Grammar Nazi??? Excuse me????

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  49. @ Spaceman
    Did you go through the Bible? Ive been searching for it since yesterday morn!

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  50. @Arun: When i tried searching, i got this automatic message: 'Searching for something based on tall claims will not accomodated. This is the Bible, for god's sake, not google.'
    So i stopped searching. I've left everything to God...and to Kaalimirchi.

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  51. If you got that message...
    I must admit, God definitely has style!!!

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  52. @ Spaceman
    Now I can believe in Monte Carlo thing...if that came up when you searched, then God is damn capable of wearing a Monte Carlo sweat shirt and a Levis jeans when he was turning water into Sula White wine!

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  53. @Arun: Ya well, he has to keep up with the times.

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  54. @Arun: Hey Arun, is mirchi bajji out of season now? I don't see any around. :P

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  55. @ Spaceman
    Reading your comment, somebody must've polished it off with the rum or whiskey! Mirchi out of stock. Farmers still gathering the buds ;-)

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  56. You really made me see the whole scene. Reminded me of my regular bus trips. Very descriptive. :)

    And I can see, why you called this post controversial. Hey kaali maa! ;)

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  57. Great post as usual.. The factor which stood out though is the language is just so lucid. Love your blog!

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