Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A train to hell...

*this was the first post on this i present u the revised and edited version.enjoy

27th February 2002

"Do ghante late hai"

Beeped the man sitting at the railway enquiry counter like an android.

My heart sank deeper hearing this as i trudged out of the queue with a heart heavier than my suitcase. Life’s tough.
I looked at jadda, my roommate for the past 3 years at the NIT Bhopal hostel. Nobody knew why he was called jadda, which was of course not his real name. May be because the name suited his personality well. Jadda as u could expect from his name had features that were anything from remotely handsome. This 6’ 2” lanky lad was often approached by the local Raamleela organisers(obviously for a role of some general in the ravan’s army) but jadda would brush off the proposals saying “Studies first, showbiz can come later”. Smirks followed.
Even the “Red n white” smokers would have fainted at the sight of jadda up close at night.

Well this diary entry is not jadda’s modeling portfolio so I’ll cease elaborating on the looks of my gem of a friend. You know he was the only one who came all the way from the hostel to see me off in such a spine chilling winter night.
Jadda did care for me.
There he was standing at a distance guarding my suitcase n bag which had a bottle of water pushed in to side pocket like a torpedo.

“Arey yaar 2 ghante late hai #&*%#$ train” (the train is 2 hrs late)
I bemoaned.

I had to reach ahemdabad the next day to attend my IIM interview on 2nd march obviously one of the biggest days in my life.

“It seems the biharis have hijacked the train”
jadda tried to crack a joke hearing which even Navjot siddhu would not have cared to even smile at. But I was used to this.

Actually the train originated from some place in north Bihar to ahemedabad, The long distance train was bound to get late in winters. And tonight was one of those nights

After analyzing the situation I told jadda in a polite and formal tone
“jadde u go back to the hostel yaar. It’ll get pretty late and it’s getting colder by the minute. I’ll call you once I reach ahemedabad. OK??”

Jadda was a bit reluctant initially but I managed to send him back to the hostel eventually using some licks and kicks.
I knew his whole family would have to adorn the “hot seat” in KBC to pay the autowallaahs late night for a ride to the college hostel.
I picked my suitcase and bag as jadda departed and ambled towards the platform. The nip in the breeze had a sting in it. Which I felt each time it intruded my was time for pink Floyd to operate, who were hitherto screwing their guitars waiting for me to hit the play button of my Walkman. Soon I plugged my ears and the melody flowed.

In one hand I had the suitcase, which contained all the ammunition I needed to advertise myself to the interview board in an effort to fool or euphemistically speaking convince them to let me in their premier institution.
The suitcase contained everything ranging from certificates of a rhyming competition won in the kindergarten (the number of participants was three which will become 3 million when I face the panel) to the internship done at BHEL in my 3rd year of engineering. (My stint there at BHEL rewrote the meaning of INTERNSHIP)

The bag contained a pair of brand new formal shirts, which I bought for wearing to the interview. Though the pair I got for just 600 it was extravagance by my standards.

My mother was a Biology teacher and her meagre salary was the only target for the bills to draw blood at. Father’s demise in my 2nd year of engineering forced me to apply for an educational loan. The insurance money and compensation what we got from the company for which my father worked helped us to get a 2 BHK flat where two pure souls (not too sure about the 2nd one) lived, my mother and my little brother.

I don’t want to sound any more melodramatic and certainly not fishing for some sympathy, as I know there were hundreds of other poor students who were burning their ass at different IITs. Those students lying prostate before their parents passport size photos each morning after taking a lifebuoy bath and diving in the pile of books.

And here I was just another ordinary student at just another NIT.

You would find Mithun chakrowarty on the cover page of filmfare more often than you would find me with books. But I was hopeful that I would at least land up with a job with enough salary to pay my debts off after I complete my degree.

All in vain as 9/11 made sure that I didn’t have a job offer cuz of the recession which ensued after the top floor of the twin towers kissed ground zero and the US of A began irrigating the Afghani land by sprinkling life size bombs.

The IIM call was the only high(?) point in my career, which would also get me nothing if I couldn’t convert the call and no surprises I was accompanied by a truckload of expectations.
I was stirring the cappuccino endlessly till it formed a whirlpool as all these thoughts were stirring me up. At least I could fulfill one guy’s expectation that was the coffee boy at the stall waiting patiently for me to pull out a 10 rupees note and hand it over to him.

It was still about an hour or so for the train to arrive. It seemed that the passengers were pushing the train all the way from Bihar.
I thought of looking at the reservation chart to look for the F’s (females) in my coach. But to my disgust there was an array of M’s interspersed with few F’s that too 40+, on the sheet of cheap quality paper pasted on the notice board called the reservation chart.

After checking the last name which also had an M in the column, I yelled a common Hindi gaali(expletive) starting from the same letter (details withheld for the sanctity of the space)

I retraced my steps back to where my luggage was kept near the bench.

I couldn’t digest this for it was really strange to have no young females in the bogey, all the Males boarding from the same point and their destination was also the same that is ahemdabad. It couldn’t have been a baaraat (group of relatives going together to attend a marriage) as without females it would sound like a baaraat for a gay marriage, the concept which was not all that popular in our country. Nevertheless I waited for the train…

Still 15 minutes to go before the aging monster arrives crawling on the rails.
The night was getting more seductive by the minute as a poet would express it.There is nothing more “HOT” than a chilly winter night. And my teeth were like a morse code machine, punching the code into thin air cuz of the spine chilling winter. Kitt kitt kittt….

As the human count on the platform became sparse, the canines started patrolling the platform with their tails up. Dogs added the required Indian ness to the platform landscape.

One of them looked at me inquisitively and after a moment joined its pack, which was howling together at a distance.

In spite of all the atheism and rationale I bred in me all these years, I was still feeling really uncomfortable with a pack of dogs howling at a distance for no reason. It was a bad omen and I had an IIM interview 2 days from now.

It was the 2nd weird thing to happen I didn’t know what was to follow…

The horn of the train arrested such thoughts to proliferate in my mind. I stood by the LED display, which read “S6”.
Coolies appeared from thin air (probably mutated from the dogs) to look for incapable passengers. A bunch of frenetic red shirted coolies crowded near the S5 coach as if they got the news that all the inmates of a old age home were returning from a excursion trip sponsored by help age India.

I entered the coach and reached my berth to see the interiors of the coach saffronised….i had my doubts cleared. The reason why there was a barrage of male names on the reservation chart was actually a whole group of middle to old age people were returning or going on a pilgrimage or probably some religious rally. Well by the worn out looks I could guess easily that they were retreating. With my least bothered self I made myself comfortable on my berth after chaining the luggage to the hooks below.

As I was about to doze off…my cell phone rang. It was my mom calling… I informed her about the delay earlier. She was awake as it was the exam time on (march) , not only the students the teachers too had to slog it hard for preparing the question papers. which I could have auctioned for quick bucks. (The devil in me).
I picked up the phone.

“Beta!! Train aayee ki nahee??” (did the train arrive??)

“Maa train me hi baithaa hoon abhi bas chalne hi waali hai” (“yeah I have boarded mom..its about to depart”)

I sat upright to gobble up maximum N/W coverage.

“chalo theek hai!! Waise beta tumko jyaada pata hai lekin thodaa dhyaan se dena interview unki koi baat kaatna mat.aur nervous mat honaa.yahee aakhiri ummeed bachee hai….” (Motherly talk and instructions to handle the interview coolly)

I was listening like a 4 year old. Whatever she told me was echoed a zillion times before by a million people but the motherly affection and concern in those words were capable of extracting tears out of my eyes.

“Haaa maaaa…..”

I could barely she went on mentioning the do’s and don’ts to follow at the interview.but I was not listening. The words “yahee ek aakhiree ummed bachee hai”(this is the last chance) were ramming inside my mind…clearly 2nd march was a big big day for me and my family..
After some more informal talk I hung up…and slowly I drifted off.

28th February 2002

I woke up rubbing my eyes as I found the train stationary. With a yawn I checked with my wristwatch it was about 7:45 a.m.As I lifted the window up a cold and spine-chilling gust of air greeted me. I could see the sun was not out yet for some unknown reasons may be the early morning cloud cover.
The train was not supposed to halt for so long at such a small station. May be some train crossing I thought…I could hear some raised voices from a distance. Probably some dispute. I was not concerned as I was looking for any chaiwallah to cross my window…

Then I saw a man wrapped up in a shawl probably hiding something inside, coming towards our coach from a distance. I looked him in his eyes as he came closer.

His eyes were like he hadn’t slept for decades. Such creepy eyes were they…I asked him casually

“Kaun saa station hai bhaiyaa.??” (Which station is it?)

He replied in an intense voice “GODHRA”..
I saw an angry mob coming......


14 Mirch lagi kya?? paani piyo yaha..

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, I am impressed by your research and care for getting timings right - a must in a fiction.
If you justify (ctrl+j) your posting, it would be very easy to read them.

12:30 AM  
Blogger itchingtowrite said...

hey what r the changes- the last line only??

1:04 AM  
Blogger Mumbai Guy said...

Have to say your writing style is just awesome. Any chance your going to proceed beyond this last line? You really got me wanting to read more.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Lady Godiva said...


I really like your writing style... you surely are good :-). keep it up.

can you please take the pain of explaining the difference b/w d first and the revised version of this post.... i dint get it... just the last line looks different (here i'm trying to look confused)...

and one more thing (a dumb question), did it actually happen to you???

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

verry verry well written.... too muchhh
lage raho....
BTW exans kaise hue?

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soldier, are you okey? come on, don't die on me, talk to me, talk to me...

11:54 AM  
Blogger Neers said...

you are really good, Abhi!! :)

5:18 PM  
Blogger cardamom said...

@ aashun
thankoo bahut bahut thankoo..mujhe aise mat maaro yaar..hey buddy if your 1st comment didn't contain (ctrl+j)mai to koon ke aansu rotaa...then i wud have read.."If you JUSTIFY your posting, it would be very easy to read them".

@ itching to write

i think the dates are mentioned here in bold...and then kee farak painda...jinhone ye nahee padhaa tha pehle ye unke liye thaa...shauri

@ mumbai ka dost

sequel aayega jaroor aayega...thodaa intezaar...waise thankoo...

@ lady godiva

Welcum jee!!
agar ye mere saath hotaa to mai..mai BAAP re naheeeeeee!!!
aate rahiye...

@ adarsh

exams to nikal gaye yaar...ache hi huye..bas ab ghar jaa raha hu...

@ neers..

thankooooo jeee...shweet words!!

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

//hey buddy if your 1st comment didn't contain (ctrl+j)mai to koon ke aansu rotaa...then i wud have read.."If you JUSTIFY your posting, it would be very easy to read them".

-- The pun was intented! :-)

3:55 AM  
Blogger Lady Godiva said...

i must say, you are too good. the way it flows, it looks real.

and m still awaiting the difference b/w the first and the revised versions.

1:24 PM  
Blogger phatichar said...

Good one, man! As usual.. I guess your style is the 'descriptive' kinds, which tends to digress the reader at times, but then you get back on track neatly. This was good. I guess we both have a lot of notes to exchange. All the best.

11:11 AM  
Blogger cardamom said...

# pahtichar

i write at length...Initially i was planning to get my collection just to fill up sum pages the story went on...but i's not that boring...and yes we do have lots of notes to exchange..we need to !! :)

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! too well written.. liked the flow...

3:31 PM  
Blogger Shubhankar said...

Good post dude...a very surprise ending indeed..!!!

However to be honest...u din't do this reader of yours any favours with this lines of yours
And here I was just another ordinary student at just another NIT.

4:18 PM  

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