"Good tidings by the mugfulls..."
A hot sweaty day spent walking from pillar to post trying to cash my stipend cheque. Of course noone will cash it immediately. The most impressive reason I got was "Its not good banking practise...". Knock knock anyone home up there? Banking involves BOTH give and take remember? Dammit. (I am using that word a lot of late. Time for another yoga session me thinks.) So I finally gave up, made a regular deposit and decided to have a late lunch.
Late reminds me. Roommate was cribbing big time about the situation our country is in. Trains run late, beds have bugs, etc. etc. (And of course cheques dont get cashed I reminded him.) I told him a funny thing that happened to me maybe 4 years ago.
I was on one of those trips back to college (Trichy) from Trissur. There's just one train to go by really. The 11:10 pm Tea Garden from Trissur Station. I normally catch a local from Guruvayoor and spend an hour at Trissur buying mags, bottled water, banana chips for the roomies etc. This time too I was there an hour ahead of schedule. Its a dim dank station with two working platforms and a third used to let goods trains through.
The Tea Garden always (always) chugs in on the second platform. The most mosquito infested stretch of concrete in the world. But the first platform is much better. So I wait there till 11. A couple of cups of tea, an Outlook magazine and some chocolate. At 11 the speakers mumble out that the train is late by an hour. In every station I have been to, an announcement like that is followed by a collective groan across the entire platform. Then it breaks up into several high pitched conversations. Many unprintable.
At 11:45 I hurry across on the overbridge. (It is dangerous to cross the tracks on foot. Besides not being able to climb up onto the platform across without help is a petty nightmare of mine.) And promptly on the hour the Tea Garden bellows in. I board, fluff up my travellers bag and drop off to sleep. Trichy at 7:30, one hour to run and make it to class.
I wake up with a family size yawn and suddenly notice that the train isn't moving. My watch says 8:30 am. On time. Impressive. I peer down from the upper berth. A set of eyes stare back with not a hint of love. With ridicule even. I jump out and look out of the window. An hour out of Trichy by the look of the surroundings and my superb sense of location. "Not too long to Trichy eh uncle..." I said to a portly old man.
I walk up to the door, (why is everyone looking at me?) splash some water and roughly reset my hair. I lean out of the door. There were a lot of people standing outside brushing their teeth and reading the papers. Some guy points at me and shares a laugh with a friend. Puzzled I crane out my head read the stations name (Mankara, how obscure... never heard of the place...) and walk back in. I intently study the grime patterns on the rubber flooring to avoid looking at the staring eyes. I stop dead in my tracks.
I run back and look at the sign board again. Malayalam. Why is it still in Malayalam? It should be in Tamil now. We should have crossed the border. I run back to my place. The family offered me a cup of coffee and told me what had happened. They enjoyed it tremendously. "Funny uncle" some of the tiny ones said.
The train had ground to a halt 40 minutes out of Thrissur. The lines were down due to a derailment a little out of Palghat. While the entire train sat and waited, I snored away blissfully for 8 hours. In a perfectly still train. An hour from home. There were smiles all round the compartment. "We thought you were dead" a wise old man mirthfully wheezed. I felt a lot like that. They tried waking me and telling me to go home. I didn't even budge.
I could still here the children saying "sleepy" and "funny" when I finally got down at Palghat and took a bus back home. The family had much fun over my story.
Memories like that need more than a mug for consolation. So if your the brew loving type rush to Sundance Cafe next to Eros. Two mugs at 20 bucks a piece. All day long. Announcing which was the entire objective of this post in the first place. Digression thou art most vile.
P.S. A friend thought sidin.BLOWspot.com was this site. He figured that was why it was getting read a lot. Dammit.