A Train to nowhere…

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“I need to experience the juice of travel,”
I told a friend on the phone,who pleaded with me, to not take the semi rush hour train into town.
“There are other ways to experience this juice or milkshake or whatever you want to,” he  tried convincing me but I was adamant.
I needed to get to Churchgate for a Poets Meet that Sunday evening from Bandra and I was hell bent, on not img_8600spoiling Uber or Ola with over priced fares that day.
Rs 30  return trip versus Rs 800….Do the math!
I must admit that I haven’t jumped in a local one in very many years. But how bad could it be?
I was glad to discover that the ticket counters were still positioned, where I remembered them last.
Looking for the shortest queue, my eye caught on the one which seemed slightly less intimidating than the rest, ‘Booking Window for physically disabled persons’ it said.
The line seemed to have only women standees which made me slightly irritated; ‘did they think they were handicapped as women?’
Then I realized it was the short, smart way my gender could be using at times to purchase quick tickets and my hesitation turned into silent applause.
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I stood there excited, clutching a fifty note, like a five year old about to embark on her first train journey.
Let me add that I have taken plenty of these, in my days at St Xavier’s College,Marine lines; with Rs 100 a week pocket money in place.
Patting myself on the back for remembering where the ‘fast train platform’ was, I walked quick paced, almost missing the swinging lathi that two railway cops were mock scaring the urchins with, on the bridge.
As I stood waiting for the 3.33 pm local to arrive, I sheepishly asked the bystanders where the second class ladies compartment was. They sized me up and down before answering ‘Last Last.’
Which I assumed meant :walk further and you will eventually slip upon it.
I started clicking ferociously on my 16 GB cell phone explaining to a group of giggling girls that it was for my blog and they asked curiously,”Kya aap foreign se aye ho?”(are you from abroad?)
 
I began to show off my minuscule Marathi skills; it seemed to turn on some laughing gas switch in their system and I was thankful that my train had drawn closer.
Everyone around me seemed to be geared for some action.
I believe that shoving each other before time of this action, can be totally avoided, if we all formed one neat, straight line, in a civilized manner.
How hard was it? Didn’t we do it on the London underground?
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I decided to impart this; I would teach everyone to do things in an organised way, for that day at least!
“Go easy, form a line, don’t push. Let the ladies with the kids go first….” I started to request the confused and flustered faces around me.
Soon, my red P cap had somersaulted on the floor, my ray bans in my hands, as two boxy women shoved me hard, “What are you waiting for princess?” they howled in Hindi, agitated that I was not pushing ahead of order, before the train had come to a halt
Having no opportunity to quip back, I quickly joined the mass struggle, realizing that if I didn’t, I would be camping on Bandra platform until dusk.
Phew! I just about made it, tasting parachute strands in my mouth and an armpit in my face.
Well I did say I wanted to experience the juice of life, did I not?train1
Not to miss a photo moment(yes yes for my blog) I started once again to shoot random faces around me, startling the others sardines who are as tightly packed as me in the overcrowded tiny space.
Dadar brought a welcome vacuum and when I could breathe once again; I continued with more selfies.
The hair accessories vendor boy smiled coyly at me, “Didi mera picture khico na.” (take my photo)
Snap!
Then came his mother, in tow; with her fruit basket…Snap!
Aha I felt like news reporter on the go, already….! img_8586
I spotted some girls on the seats bending over a box; curiously I go over. Ooh nail paints.
“Which brand is it?” I asked among some weird stares.
I Wondered why? Don’t they sell Sally Hansen in Mumbai locales? Apparently not.
I contemplated buying some ‘My colour,  Rs 20 each only !’ … And there were so many interesting colors for grabs.

The stern face of my manicurist appeared out of nowhere, “Yellow cuticles madam you will get; only OPI products you must use.”    He wins. Plan cancelled.

Snappy Music in the background did I hear? Oh we have progressed!

In house Bollywood entertainment?

Brief second of  glee was cut short; it turned out to be an audio advert for Badshaah masala pav bhaji ka masala, etc etc.

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Got me wondering  if I should make a catchy jingle for my forth coming novel too and let it sing in local trains? Clever gimmick, worth considering.
As Grant road station approached….it dawned to me that I haven’t made any friends yet. I looked around. What could a possible ice breaker be on a twenty minute weekend train ride?
I smiled at the neatly plaited lady at the far left corner, she looked amicable.
I went over and took a seat; she looked at me a tad suspiciously like most around did.
“Do any of you have a hand sanitizer?”I finally questioned the trio opposite me.
My O.C.D. had kicked in as I  had a flash image of being bathed in railway germs.
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One of them stammered as she asked me, what it was?
I gave them a brief: ‘We touch things in trains like seats, handles, doors, even currency notes.  When was the last time, all of you, cleaned your hands?’
My reply seemed to make her spring from her perch and hang her head out of the door.
The other two started talking in low whispers, avoiding eye contact in an obvious manner.
Okay, I got it …I was going to leave that train with no new friends or fans and failing to impart my hygiene concerns.
On my return trip post seven pm, I purposefully sat in a quiet corner all by myself, staring outside….Counting the number of trains that crossed us and thinking about the poetry reading session I had just attended.

Poets they say are highly intelligent people who have a depth beyond common understanding. dfhthruhru

I had clearly established at the attended reading, that I was definitely not one of them.
I don’t recall being carried away into a beautiful world of poetic beauty or literature, ever….
But that did not mean that I could not get carried away elsewhere. In this case- to Andheri; which happened to be five stops away from where I was supposed to originally skip off.
Eventually, I called it a night as I hopped off the carriage, on to the wrong platform and apped for an Uber straight back home.
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Sunrise and Sunset

Sunrise!

A New Day! In my wildest dreams, I had never imagined sunrise to be among my favorite words.

For until recent, I had associated it only with fatigue, groggy eyes and an unearthly hour to wake up to.

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Then the meaning changed…..

The day you realize that life is just a successive number of sunrises and nothing else and if you keep missing them you are going to soon wake up to nothing more than nothingness, you ironically rise up.

So, I changed its inference in my dictionary.

I made it a synonym for -New dreams, new laughs, new insights, new fantasies, new goals and new directions.

Of course I still refuse to start my day with five Surya Namaskars, for that alone would just be sheer torture in my case.

Sunset for that matter is luckier; it at least gets an au revoir from me once in a while.

Just the other day, my three year old nephew tugged my hand at Joggers Park, stomped on the concrete track and demanded, “Make the sun stop setting.”

I looked at him defeated. I kept promising him all day in emotional spurts that I would do anything for him and there I was standing unusually helpless before the enchanting gold ball that was slowly disappearing before our eyes.

“Stop it,” he was close to howling now, “I don’t want it to set.”

The sun was in no mood to listen to us and I walked along wondering….Would that ever happen?

We have mastered almost every single thing we could get our hands on and our brains around.

Words, actions, technology, progress, evolution.

As adults we have insisted on controlling almost everything within our radar.

Thankfully, what we simply cannot seize is ‘nature’.

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The Trumpiest Trump in the Universe, the brainiest squad of NASA, the fastest space orbiters,  the chants of all the holiest saints of the world put together… no one and nothing could have stopped that sun from setting.

There are some things that are simply beyond our command.

And though I felt sad for letting down my little one, for just this once I wish I had David Copperfield’s chest of illusions hidden in my sling purse, it gave me immense contentment reflecting that there were some forces in this universe which were way out of our league and reach.

Some places we will never be able to taint with our greed, some missions which we will repeatedly fail at and some phenomenon that we will have no power over, ever; until the end of time.

Sunrise, sunset, the ebb and flowing tides, moon shimmer , the four winds, the Northern lights, the shooting star, gravity, cosmic design, love …oh what a relief it is knowing that some things will always be!

 

Chai with Granny

As a child my Grand mother I remember was the best story teller I knew.

She would tell me everything, right from Persian  history to her childhood days of fun and frolic.

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While some had morals, others were simply tit bits of gossip that kept me wide eyed.

She narrated them as she stroked my arm in affection after I returned tired from a mundane school day and hugged me to story land nights when I stayed over with her, on vacations.

She told them to me over cups of sweet tea and chocolate walnut sandwiches.

She conveyed them to me over mango marathons we had with each other all afternoon and mid night fridge raids.

Come what may she always had a new story. There was never a dull moment around her.

I wondered sometimes, did she have an elephant memory or was she making some up, just to keep me gripped?

But the day’s, dates and people easily matched and I accepted that grand mothers are just fantastic entertainers.

At least mine was a mind blowing one!

Maybe that’s where I got this gene to narrate. Tell ordinary things in an extraordinary way or so I would like to think.

Unfortunately I could not relate half as well as her for am not a very convincing conversationalist.

Luckily some part of the talent rubbed off on paper and as a child my diaries were filled with self written characters, both real and unreal.

My imagination was anyways bordering on berserk and that’s where my love to write fiction came about.

As am ready to publish my first work of fiction in paperback this year, I realize that I have countless unique anecdotes from my own existence that happen around me more often than not.

It would be pointless if I didn’t let others in on my unique adventures and escapades.

And what better way to share…than over a cup of Steaming Chai……..

Where it all begun…

Where it all begun...
Where it all begun…