Monday, November 12, 2007

Deepawali trip home

This thought indeed striked me, as I reached the anjaneyar temple on the way to majestic. Oh my God! Why majestic? Why didn’t I take the chance of boarding at cantonment? Why was the ticket available only from Maddur and not from Bangalore? Why only one train to trichy from Bangalore? Why so few compartments? Why did I get a waiting list 60 days earlier within 30 minutes of booking ticket? Why did I drink coffee n waste time sending parcel at the last minute? Why did I forget my air pillow and go back to get it? Why did I not want to board the first auto because he didn’t wait near the Citibank atm n moved further down n waited? Why this traffic jam? and why did I miss the Monday evening train by 11 minutes?

I remembered seeing the train starts at 7:20 pm from majestic.It used to be 8:20 when I first boarded it last year. And now I find, it is 7:05 from Majestic and 7:20 from cantonment. I reached Majestic after all prayers at 7:16. So I had missed it by 11 minutes. I had started at 5:50 instead of my planned 5:30 to board my whatIhadthoughtAs 7:20 train. I thought I would make it just in time. As I reached that anjaneyar temple, I thought, if I missed the train, I will go back and sit in the room and write my exam on Sunday without tension. So what if I had to spend deepawali alone.

When I reached the station, I thought I had 4 more minutes. I was surprised though, that they had not displayed mysore mayiladuthurai express timings in any of those cctvs. I was agonized when the vehicle guy said, I would have to take the stairs, since the train was blocking the path that the vehicle was supposed to take. The train, the ttr and so many station masters said would be coming in platform 6. No one told me then that the train had already left. I reached panting and puffing at platform 6 and I was surprised, it didn’t look bustling. I vividly remember my earlier sights in the platforms. How true, you get to see the unexpected inside the station, waiting for the trains, almost always. There has hardly been an exception to this. I asked the Nescafe guy, he said, it had left just now, I could not believe my ears, I asked another vendor, he too said the same thing. My throat started hurting. I was so angry, so

Well, I was so happy with myself for the wonderful way the things were going. I called up R and Cheenu asking them to cancel my eticket. Their reply was that they could not cancel tickets since the chart was already prepared. Train would have reached cantonment as well, by the time I had reached platform 6. So going to cantonment and boarding the train was impossible unless, I aparated as in Harry Potter.

I had two options now, to go house and spend deepawali alone. Or travel by bus overnight to trichy. I remembered how I had felt on spending Ayudha pooja hols alone. I decided, comewhatmay, am going to go home. With great difficulty I had convinced my PM on getting almost a week off for deepawali hols. And I didn’t want to go back to office on Tuesday.

I went to majestic SETC booking counter, the guys there said…they would not give me 2 tickets to stretch my leg. He said, he would give the front seat ticket. I decided, this time, I would not look at the road and I would not get paranoid…imagining accidents. I got my ticket, and walked up the place where I boarded the bus to vellore earlier in feb march. I sat on the cement bench. I could see only Chennai, pondy n mahabalipuram buses. There were no south bound buses. I tried to solve my last exam paper. But could not concentrate. I tried bugging cheenu to check if he could not indeed cancel the etickets. I bugged mom, saying, I am not going to go home. She said, okay stay there and then I told her, I had booked and am going to come home.

The bus was at 10:30 pm. I had been accustomed to sleep at 9-10 and wake up early these days. I waited in that area till 9:30 and decided to explore the south bound buses area. I would have asked and confirmed my route with some 6 people before I reached the actual stinking mosquito filled place at 10:15. Just then 9:45 trichy bus left. That also had the same route number and next to me was a guy rather a group who were lamenting that their 8:30 bus bound to Thanjavur had not come yet even after almost 2 hours. We were all chatting on how each of us had wonderful experiences coming and going from Bangalore with these buses. That guy on my left looked like my nov 1, EP pm senthil and the guy on my right was nondescript person.

At around 10:45, after checking with the inspector/time keeper, Trichy bus came. I boarded it and collapsed on my seat. All the guys entered and the conductor diplomatically managed to extract more than the actual fare and keep the balance with himself. He justified saying, if kpn walla asks extra bucks, you would give without complaint, but I cannot ask for extra amount. And while guys who had not reserved tickets came to book available tickets, the conductor clearly said you should not harp about balance. So guys ended up spending 300 or even 500 for 235 ticket.

The ladies with kids and hus-wife pairs got to sit behind the driver seat. In the place where the second driver is supposed to take rest, the driver said no luggages should be placed near him and the guy whose luggage was moved to my place said, he had no issues if I placed my legs on his luggage. I was glad, I had all the prop and just when I had settled, the conductor asked me to move behind, since I might have to sit with a guy next to me while traveling. I said, it is not a problem if it is a guy next to me, but I will not budge. Then he made another lady who was sitting in the third row to come and sit with me. That thayir sadham was apparently going to meet her mom who was in her deathbed. I got to listen to all her story, on how she was traveling just for a day before deepawali, since she had to be back for deepwali in Bangalore, on how her sick mom was just asking for her alone and no one else as she lay waiting for death, on how much she had to do, on how her mom could drink only water, that too after someone stroked her chest to make her sip water, on howSoManyThings yaar.

So I slumped on the seat, closing my eyes, opening once in a while. Think atlast I must have slept. Around 4 am, they put Shivaji, I could not bring myself to watch shivaji this early in the morning. I lay closing my eyes, unable to turn n see the tv, since the maami next to me had her lips parted as she was asleep and it was stinking as with every one’s early morning unbrushed mouth. Somehow she turned the other side and I watched shivaji from that time, when everything that Shivaji started had ruined.

And then till we reached chathram I had seen the starting of Unnale Unnale as well… the driver had been calling the substitute for quite some time. When the substitute was watching Shivaji, once Shivaji got over… the substitute driver opened the door, banged the door shut and chided the driving driver saying, "enna ya…konjam neram padam parka vida mattiya, athukulla unnaku enaa." I listened only that much, till the door was closed.

Since I had the prop, my legs were not swollen…and in chatram I found oft bus waiting and I sat next to a paati. I had worn sky blue kurta and black pants and had tied my hair in a bun. That paati asked me if I was returning from college and then she corrected herself asking, if I was a nurse and if I was returning from hospital. I didn’t want to speak without brushing my teeth and said yes. She asked which hospital. American was the first that came to my lips and I said American hospital. Then she asked what was the elbow crutch for. I said for walking and she uttered some gods name. From chatram to subramaniapuram where she alighted, she was praying at every structure that remotely resembled a temple.

I reached home at 9 am and found mom had gone to office. On the way, I had to samalchify all my ever nosePoking ex Aunties and akkas who had been our neighbours. Ours was the only family which was still struck to the same block from my 4th standard. So many had come and moved away. Somehow we never felt like moving out, at least this is one thing is relatively permanent.

If were to describe everything that would take another hour of my time. Just 2 things. One was while I was returning home from poolangudi after visiting my grandparents, I happened to meet another lady, whom I had never seen before and who described everything that had happened in the family accurately. I was surprised, there was literally nothing that she didn’t know. She later told me that she was the Pandian shop lady which was next to Reddiyar shop in the oft busstand. God! well, these ladies… well… she has the time to develop her general knowledge…

On Sunday, I had my train at 8:20 from junction…