From Howrah to Bangalore - Just Another Train Travel

All my train travels being interesting, I decided to do the extreme this time.

Its a screaming 42 degree celsius in Kolkata, and I decided to travel to Bangalore on a sleeper class ticket on the Indian Railways. Yes, I was the original inspiration behind movies like 'Bheja Fry'. The only sane logic in all this was that wherever I would go, the temperature could only dip. I stuffed my rucksack with everything I did not need and a handful of things that I absolutely required. Then I latched a dozen water-bottles to my hand before I embarked on the journey.

Immediately, I made acquaintance with an uncle, who asked me what I do. Making no sense of telling him that 'Dear uncle, I am a jobless globetrotter currently, and still so for another 3 months', I fast-forwarded my story to a couple of months later and told him that I'm pursuing doctoral studies in the field of cell cycle and cancer. He jumped off his seat and introduced his unmarried daughter to me.

Her name was Rebecca, and she was prettier than other women in their late 20s. She was a medical school graduate but currently hoping to switch jobs. But there being some problem with her mother's knee, her being obese, and her resultant inability to get up on to the upper bunks, I volunteered to exchange my own seats and go to the side-upper bunk as Rebecca continued staring at me blankly.

...

Once I changed seats and came to sit at the side berth, my allegiances changed swiftly (although I never really stopped glancing over at the medical graduate on the other side of the aisle). However, I made some more friends - this time, two Bihari labourers in all their glory.

'Mangal' said one.
'Sumangal' said another.

These guys were two brothers who lived in Park Circus at Kolkata and are going to Bangalore in search of a job at a restaurant. Along with them, they were carrying tonnes of basmati rice and moong daal in sacks that were stuffed below my seat.

They seemed like an intellectual lot. When we were passing Orissa, Mangal offered randomized statistical insights, 'There is a place outside India (but) in Nagaland, where people eat other people.' which Sumangal didn't miss to counter with his own reasoning that if that were the case, those people will be extinct by now. That shut Mangal up, until we were to cross Andhra Pradesh.

As my luck would have it, the temperature outside had dipped considerably and it soon started raining. I've never liked rain much, but I have never missed to welcome the freshness in the climate that it brings along. Everyone slept off soon, as the train tore into the rainy night.

Next day, I was woken up by Sumangal, 'Bahar itna bootifool climate hai, aur aap so rahe ho? Utho, chalo!' It's a beautiful weather outside, and you're still sleeping! Get up, come on! Not even my mum does that to me - wake me up from a deep slumber, but how can I counter the request? So I got up. The labourer brothers had ordered tea for me while I had gone to freshen up, and although I preferred coffee in the morning, I decided not to disappoint them.

I looked outside the window and my 5 years of travel experience on the route told me that we were passing Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, Mangal came up with another fun fact - 'In Nagaland, (but) outside India, there is an endemic tribe who feed their dogs and then catch it by the tail to swirl it around at a cruel speed..' As if the image wasn't revolting enough, he concluded it with further information '..then they lick up the dog's vomit and kill the dog! That's the only thing they'll ever eat!' Sumangal pointed out that at that rate, there would soon be no dogs left in the area, and hence the race will go extinct if it hasn't already, that is.

So again, that shut Mangal up until we reached Bangalore.

Somewhere in Andhra Pradesh




















There was another development in our compartment that I noticed only on the morning of the second day. A gregarious bengali aunty - probably in her 50s - had shaped up from nowhere and finding me to be the only Bengali person around, she started chatting.

'Where are you traveling to?' she asked.
'Umm.. Yeswantpur, Bangalore..' I replied.

The train was a non-stop - only one source and one destination - so it was a weird and awkward question to ask on the first place. Her answer though, was the weirdest.

'Arrey?! Aamio toh!' Oh sweet mother of God, me too! - shouted she.

She shifted her seats to come sit beside me and talk about her daughter, to see whom, she's thus travelling. In the next half hour, I got enough information to forge her very existence on this planet. Her daughter is currently in the last year of engineering studies at a college in Bangalore. She is going through a rather happy break up, as her ex-boyfriend was very genitive. She is doing an internship at HP parallel to her studies, where she's being paid 30,000 per month - something that I just couldn't digest. And lastly I got to know that her parents having had a love marriage, they would only love to see their daughter go the same way.

I shifted in my seats, and turned the deaf ear to whatever she said in the next few hours that was left in the journey. Except when she offered chocolate chip cookies.

By the time the train pulled up at Hebbal and waited for a platform to be cleared for it's entry in Yeshwantpur railway station, Mangal came up with his last and final insight, 'You know, girls of the Ramaiah College - who roam around at night on the 80 feet road - are nothing in comparison to the ones we find in front of Ferguson College at Pune!' to which Sumangal could only smile and say, 'Sahi bola, bhai!' Bang on, bro!

With that, I entered my own 'mind-palace' and landed at Bangalore to greet my amazing friends with a sly smile on my face. Another journey awaits only a week later, that'll also be synonymous to bidding farewell to the best of my friends for a long time. How I wish it never comes.

4 comments:

  1. Train travels are the best. I have forgotten the number of romances I have had during long train journeys. :) This brought back some very fond memories.

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  2. And 11 days later, I check my blog. And who's comment I find unattended on my post? :) Thank you Diptee di, I'm so glad you liked it. Trains are seriously the best thing yet in travel!

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  3. Khub bhalo likhechish. onekdin por porlam. Am in eternal love with train journeys. More than sharing glances, I love sharing food from neighbours :D
    PS: 1st para, fourth line : THEN I ..... hobe.

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  4. This, I wrote on the very night I reached Bangalore. I was tired, dirty and feeling hot - but I managed to pour the initial reaction to my heart's content! :) I think this was my last train journey in a very long time though.. Oh, and my mother will have a thing or two to say about sharing food with strangers! :P

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