Friday, November 22, 2013

Many would have read the conversation between me and Andrez. Just after Andrez got down at Margao, a couple boarded into the same compartment and sat in side upper berth. Soon I realised that they were hearing impaired. They were voraciously conversing all throughout, in sign language, till they reached Panvel, where they got down along with me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Polandine kurichalla... Polandukaarane adhava polishine kurichu... (Politely speaking to a Polish)

The passenger sitting opposite to me in window seat looked like a middle aged foreigner. He had been taking photos in his camera along with me of the beautiful Konkan sceneries through the train's window from morning. He had a huge back pack which was the only baggage he was carrying. The Nagercoil-Gandhidham express reached Canacona. The fellow traveller suddenly shrugged and asked me.

Fellow traveller(FT): Is this station, Goa?
Me: Yes, this is the start of Goa. Where do you want to go?
FT: I want to go to. Wait…

he began to search in the front pouch of his back pack.

Me: Margao? I asked.

FT too some paper and said. "Yes, yes"

Me: It is the next station. Thanks to the application "Rail Time" in my "smart phone" I was up to date of the stations the train plies to. 

His English was not that much fluent (as if mine is fluent) and so I asked from where he was from.

Me: Where are you from?

He seem to have mistook my question and he said.

FT: I roaming around India. 2 months.

Me: Oh, great. But where are you coming from?

The train passing through the tunnels reverberated the sounds and it was difficult for both of us to hear. It was a tunnel some 1 minute long.  So there was silence for about 1 minute or so.

Me: Where are you coming from?

FT: I am from Poland.

Me: Oh Poland, great. So how long have you been in India?

FT: 2 months. It is snow in Poland. So I came for a vacation of 2 months. I started my journey onSeptember 25th (I guess?).

Me: Ok. Where all you went?

FT: I went to Kashmir, then to Nepal, from there to Kolkata, then to Huri.

Me: Huli, what?

FT: Huli, Kuli, wait…

He again took another booklet. It was a big India map. showed me some place below Kolkata.

Me: Oh, Orissa?

FT: Oh sorry, Puri.

Me: Oh, ok got it.

FT: Then to Konark, this place.

Me: Vishakapatnam.

He started to show me the way he travelled.

FT: Vishakapatnam - Chennai - Kannyakumari - Trivandrum - Cochin

Me: Wow. Good good.

FT: and now train to Goa.

Me: Oh you boarded this train from Ernakulam?

FT: Yes.

Now I remember seeing this guy the previous night, under dim light. At that time I thought he was some North Indian guy, thanks to his 6ft height and white skin (:P).

Me: I am from a place some 45 kms from Ernakulam.

FT: Oh, nice.

Me: By the way, what is your name?

FT: I am Andrez.

Me: I am Sridhar.

We shook hands.

Andrez: Just let me know when it reaches Margao.

Me: Sure. It is the next station. Where all you are planning to go in Goa?

Thanks to the 5 day Goa visit, just a month before, I was somewhat good at identifying places in Goa. Andrez again searched for some paper and took an old train ticket, in which it was written "Calangute Beach", "Baga Beach", "Aguada Fort".
I found all these are in North Goa.

Me: Oh all these are in North Goa. You will have to go to Panaji from Margao.

Andrez: Oh ok.

Me: So where are you from Poland? Warsaw? I asked him the only place I know in Poland.

Andrez: No. It is a place called Zakopane.

Me: Oh ok.
Me: And what do you do there?

Andrez: I make leather jackets, in there.

Me: Oh Ok.

So you went to Kashmir. Where. Ladakh?

Andrez began to be vocal again. I found him to be a like minded person, thanks to his passion in travelling that too alone.

Andrez: Yes. I went to Leh, then from there to Delhi, then to Nepal.

Showed a few places in Nepal in his map and from there to Kolkata.

Andrez: Yes. Kolkata. Mother Theresa's place. You know Mother Theresa?

Me: yes, oh to Missionaries of Charity?

Andrez: Yes. Kolkata is a nice place. Then to Puri. then…

Again took another book. It was India tourist Guide. Showed me the temple and the Chakras of the Sun Temple.

Me: Oh, Konark.

Andrez: Yes. Beautiful place it is.

Me: It truly is. I have also been once.

Andrez: Train is really nice in here.

Me: Yes, it is comfortable.

Andrez: For me from Kolkata to Puri, it took 28 hours.

He began to show the route once again in his map.

Me: Yes Bus travel is tedious.

Andrez: Also the roads were not good.

Me: Yes, yes. That is also a problem.

Andrez: From then only trains. Trains are good.

Me: So where all went in Kerala?

Andrez: I went in the boat. to…

Me: Oh, Fort Cochin, Mattancherry.

Andrez: Yes, yes. Then to beach.

Me: Ok.

By now I understood that he is a beach freak, different from my interests.

Me: In Goa, you can try going to Dudhsagar waterfalls. It is good.

Andrez: Ok. (Didn't seem interested)

Me: So where all you have been other than India?

Andrez: Oh me, China, Thailand, Malaysia.

Me: Oh great. So how is China? Went to Great Wall?

Andrez: Yes. Yes.

He began to be vocal about China.

Andrez: China is progressing, faster. Developing. Even USA knows it… India is not that developed.

Me: Yes we are still a developing nation.

Andrez: India has good resources. Farms, Fish….

He began to be vocal about fishes, now.

So many types of fishes you have. Delicious. Many are exported. India needs to export more. It has started now. Saw a news last week.

Me: Thought "Oh these development maniacs" 

He was referring some US- Indo pact on export, which happened recently. I was not aware or interested in it. So tried to change the topic.

Me: Oh Ok. So this is your first visit to India?

Andrez: No, second. I have been to Mumbai.

Me: Oh. ok I am going in there.

Andrez: Oh ok, What do you do there?

Me: Oh me, I am studying.

Andrez: Oh great. India need intelligent people like you.

Me: Just smiled , thinking ("Oh.. thank you thank you . There are many in here sir.")

Andrez: Mumbai is crowded. I like places where there are less people.

Me: Oh ok.

Me: So you go to beaches mainly?

Andrez: Yes, I come from mountains.

Me: Oh your place is near mountains, in Poland?

Andrez: Yes. I like to go there in beaches and just lie down.

Me: Oh great. So in Goa, how many days?

Andrez: 10 days.

Me: Oh great. So after that when returning?

Andrez: December 2nd.

Me: From Mumbai?

Andrez: No from New Delhi.

Me: Oh ok.

Me: You are there in Facebook?(Oh me, the Facebook addict)

Andrez: What, face??

Me: Oh leave it, give your mail id.

Andrez: Oh mail id…

He took a book from me and wrote his mail id in English with a bit difficulty.
he wrote something else too below it.

Andrez: This is my address, he showed me his address too which he had written below.

Me: Oh thanks Andrez.

Meanwhile one vendor was carrying "pazhamporis".

Andrez: What are these?

Me: Oh those are pazhamporis, roasted bananas.

Andrez: Oh, they taste good?

Me: Yes, yes. You can try it out.

He bought 4 of them for 40 Rs.

Andrez: Have it.

Me: No thank you.

He again insisted to take one from it. So I took a piece of it.

Andrez: Oh they make this from bananas.

Me: Yes, using ripe bananas.

Andrez: Delicious. For 40 Rs, it is cheap. Good.

Me: Yes it is nice.

He again offered me pazhampori.

I politely refused

Me: You have it. I just now had break fast.

Andrez: Food is delicious in here. Fishes, meat, seafood. But most are vegetarians in here. I guess about 80% of them.

Me: not that much, may be 30-40%

Andrez: Oh ok.

Me: I myself am a vegetarian.

Andrez: Oh. (he smiled)

He was done with the pazhamporis and he promptly put the wastes in a cover he had kept beneath his seat. The fellow desi passengers who had also bought pazhamporis had just thrown away the wastes throughout the window.

Andrez saw a magazine lying besides me.

Andrez: what is it? Is it National Geographic Magazine?

Me: Oh that is local environmental magazine. "Koodu" .

Andrez: Oh local National Geographic magazine.

I laughed…

Me: yes kind of… 

He went throughout the pictures in the magazine, which had articles related to Organic farming, Silent Valley, Eravikulam etc… 

He saw one photo and asked me:

Andrez: What is this?

Me: Oh that is jackfruit.

Andrez: Oh it is a fruit.

Me: Yes. You can see it even in here, on the way.

Andrez: Oh, it tastes good?

Me: Yes, it is good.

Andrez: Great.

He was in awe on seeing the Simhavalan Kurangu(Lion tailed macaque) in one of the pages.

Andrez: Oh these monkeys. They are dangerous. There were plenty when I went to Nepal.

Me: Oh.. But these are some endemic species present only in these parts. Endangered ones.

Andrez: Yes, dangerous ones.

Me: No, Endangered one.

Andrez: Oh ok…

Again some silence amongst us as we were passing another tunnel.

Me: So to go to the beaches, you will have to go to Panaji from Margao and then from there you can go to Calangute, Baga and Aguada. So where will you stay there?

Andrez: i will go to some tour planners.

Me: Oh ok. Do try to go to Dudhsagar.

Andrez: Ok, I will try.

Me: Give a paper, i will write how to go there.

Andrez gave me a piece of paper, in which I wrote the way to go to Dudhsagar waterfalls.

Soon margao station reached.

Andrez: Oh this is the station?

Me: yes, you need to get down here.

Andrez: Oh thank you.

He took his back pack and was about to leave.

Me: Bye bye, Andrez. Nice talking to you.

Andrez: Thanks to you too.

Me: You can get buses to Panaji from outside the railway station.

Andrez: Oh sure, I will do that.

Andrez: Oh forgot… can you get me that cover lying below. The cover with wastes.

Me: Sure Andrez.

I gave him the cover with wastes, which was almost full and waved bye bye to him.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Face" Book

I removed my bulgaan(french beard) and had clean shaven my face after 3 months or so.

Few comments after this act of mine:

You look atleast 5 years younger...
Enthu patti? (What happened?) Some problem?
Were you nuts??
Why did you do this?
I didn't realize you.
I thought it as somebody else...
Oh, you look cute now...
Oh, is that you, Sridhar?
What the ****???
Maintain this and go for a spike... You look awesome.

General trend which I felt:

Many North Indians liked my new look(I suppose, from their comments) and South Indians thought I am crazy... Is it some cultural notion, we usually see? in film stars(clean shaven Varun Dhawan vs Fahad Fasil with a stubble) for eg. :) There was good gender balance also in the comments received.

Never ever had I received so many comments after shaving...
I realized, in TISS you have people for and against in anything one does, including things as private as shaving one's beard...

TISSians do notice and analyze people, unlike some "I don't bother" products of the previous organizations and institutions, I was associated with...

Photos with the various facial expressions after seeing my face to be uploaded soon...

PS: NOM to the "I don't bother" friends of mine. You respect my freedom of facial expression and I appreciate that... 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Adieu 09886546454... Welcome 09619435984...

It is always sentimental to part with something, that gets associated with us particularly when it had been so close to you for years. Dear 09886546454, you have brought me happiness, sadness, provided me opportunities, timely notifications and irritating promotions for the last 6 years or so. But as it is with any other materialistic phenomenon, time has come to part with you. You had been one of my identities and I had tried hard to make you my lifelong partner, but Govt of India ditched you and me, by not coming up with Nationwide Mobile Number Portability, though Kapil Sibal had promised to do it by early this year. 

Thank you for serving me, till date and for being a virtual friend of mine. I will surely miss you as you were very glamorous and were very easy to remember. Also as I, along with the callers will take quite some time to get adjusted with your successor 09619435984, which doesn't have the 'order of numbers' which you have had, we will surely miss you dearly at least for the next few days if not months.

Adieu 09886546454... welcome 09619435984. Family, friends, enemies, promoters all please note.... 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

An appointment with a Doctor

Met Dr. Binayak Sen once again today, in the campus (Previously had met him when he came for the screening of Sanjay Kak's Red Ant Dream). This time around he had came in here to see some faculty. Greeted him and we had a 10 minute talk.

He asked me which course I am into, also asked who all are teaching. Later on mentioning about the place where, I am from he was vocal about the Toll protest in Thrissur-Chalakudy highway and also the recent Kathikudam protest, where he had been 2 years back, before the current protests. He said, he is interested to have a talk with the Water Policy guys about the issues with water subsidies and dams in North East India. He asked my mail id and phone number. Amused by my mail id, he asked me what is "mizhaavu". I asked back whether he knows about Koodiyattam and that it is a drum used in it. So he asked whether it is similar to Chenda, for which I answered as Yes... Lastly when I said I had met him in Bangalore last year, he asked where I was working in and whether I was not happy with my software job, for which I said that only money speaks in there and that I wanted a career change which suits my interests.

Kannada Kamadhenu, Karnataka Kalpvriksha...

Thus leaving Karnataka for a few years. Sure that I will be roaming around the outskirts of this beautiful state. For me the most travelled state in India, perhaps more than my home state of Kerala. Yes, I have travelled from Bijapur in the North to Chamarajnagar in the South, Kolar in the East to Gokarna in the West over the last 7 years. The fertile plains of Raichur, arid, miners paradise of Bellary, jungles of Nagarahole, Bandipur, Kudremukh, the salubrious hills of Chikmagalur, Coorg, sexy seashores of Mangalore, Gokarna, breath taking water falls of Jog, Lushington and Shivanasamudra. I experienced the hustles and bustles of an urban city and also the hues and cries of the rural villages in here. I learnt how an MNC works and also what an NGO does in here. I came to know what is COBOL and Java as well as how eye catchy Jowar, Ragi, Sunflower farms can be. I won't say 'Kannada gothilla' now and its script is never broken Jalebi pieces. These Jalebi pieces have given the state the maximum number of Jnanpith awardees in India. Rivers Cauvery and Tungabhadra, their ecological and cultural sentiments are now mine too. Tipu, Hyder Ali, Adil Shah, kingdoms of Vijayanagara, Hoysala, have left behind some amazing architectural beauties. Jains, the Coorgis and the Tibetans have added the flavour to this state with their uniqueness. Karnataka is not about Bangalore alone but much much more than that. Rightfully acknowledged as "One State, Many Worlds".

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Caught in the Act!

Pre Script before reading this post: 

-> I have high regards to people with disabilities and I am ashamed now for the fact that I was traveling in a compartment meant for them. 

-> I admit my mistake of traveling in a disabled compartment and the whole incident you are going to read below had a more serious and an uncertainty tag associated with it, though it appears cool right now. 

-> Moreover I from now on abide by the rules of the law and also I respect the police and the magistrate for all their duties on catching a person who has breached the rules.

-> Do send in constructive feed back.

Caught in the Act!

Thus at last that too happened. I was caught by Railway Protection Force for traveling in a Disabled compartment of the Mumbai local train. I was lured by the almost empty compartment for disabled and Cancer patients in the morning rush hour, when I boarded the train from Malad. I was standing in the compartment, to reduce the "ethical uneasiness" though there were seats to sit. Train reached Andheri. I was just browsing in my mobile(FB, what else), when a police man came and asked "Vikalaank hein kya". Oops, I was caught and realizing this, I murmured no to him. He handed me over to another policeman outside. 

"Ek aur mila". 

He showed me the sign near the door of the compartment which showed "Compartment for Disabled and Cancer patients" and said:

"Yeh dekh lo, phir police station jaake nahin bolna ki patha nahin kis liye pakde gaye".

The other policeman caught hold of my arm and asked me, whether I had the proof to indicate disability. I again said no. He had another person held on his other arm, who was pleading him to release him and stating he would be late for his workplace. I came to know that he was caught for spitting in the railway station. I was more like a rat caught in a rat trap, still surprised (stunned?) by the proceedings, and not uttering a word. Holding two of us, the policeman started to walk. I came to know from the conversation between the policeman and the fellow culprit that we were heading to the Andheri RPF police station. I was surely stunned but don't know why I was not feeling afraid or panicky. This is perhaps the first time I am being caught for a violation perhaps after 10-11 years. That time I was in Thiruvananthapuram, where in I was caught for driving my scooter before the signal turned green. That time I escaped from their clutches, though I was riding without my license, perhaps seeing my worried, teenage, innocent face.

Let’s come back to our present day events from the flash back. My face didn’t seemed innocent enough to the Mumbai police to leave me. I had worn a "Bulgaan(so called French Beard)", shaven just a day before to increase my "maturity" and "decency". This might have further reduced my innocence in my "paal vazhiyum" face. :) The policeman was holding both of our arms in his heavy hands just like people carrying ducks in their throat, through the busy Andheri railway station. Andheri RPF police station is roughly quarter of a kilometer from the Railway station. All people around were looking at us. I could sense their amusement, as I have been there in their shoes many times. Weird things came into my mind at that time. I visualized Sreenivasan in movies like "Akkare Akkare Akkare" and "Chandralekha"(I had seen this movie once again, a day before, perhaps the reason) being carried by the police, before Mohanlal comes to his rescue. The situation was similar here, though no one was there for our rescue. 

Soon we reached the police station. "Yeh dhonon bhi", the policeman carrying us said. 

I could see some 20 odd other people in the police station and the tiny room it was almost half full. "Purush Bandigruh" and "Sthree Bandigruh" were adjacent to this front room. I realized that all were caught for similar charges. As I have observed, anywhere you go, whether it be a job interview, studies, Short film festival, Baul music concert or in this case, even a police station as a culprit, you will have at least few with same credentials/interests as/than yours. That is the beauty of India. I checked with others for what their crime was. Majority were for travelling in the "Disabled Compartment". Few for spitting in the railway station and few others for crossing the railway path. Offenders were pouring in at equal intervals as the RPF police were on a catching spree that day. All sects of people were there. Few seemed IT professionals (even I am one, even now), one was a college student, a doctor, few daily wagers, a seemingly film professional, business men. The youngest one was a teenager and the oldest one a 50 year old. All were going to their work place/college. I also found that there were 3 Malayalees including the Doctor and me in the group.
All were restless and didn't consider themselves to have done a mistake and were pleading the police walahs to release them after paying the fine. They refused this and asked us to wait till the Inspector comes. Soon two lady police officers came in and took out a file which had a bunch of papers. The heading mentioned "Charge Sheet". Seeing this many had a sigh of desperation. A senior person in the group said: "Ab toh magistrate jaana padega. Aur der ho jaayega re." I was sure that I was going to miss my morning class soon as I was caught, so there was not much of an impact on me. People were more panicky on hearing this and started pleading the two policemen sitting in the front. The policemen refused and repeated what they said earlier. All were making calls to relatives, bosses etc. Soon the two lady police women started to write down the details of each of the culprits in the charge sheet. They were taking their own time chit chatting and making fun of each of the person while writing in the charge sheet. 
. "Jurm kya hein" based on which she wrote a Section number(mine was Section 155-1), "Naam", "Pathah" were the questions and also a sign on the back side of the charge sheet. The room was slowly getting crowded. I eagerly went and completed the formalities with the hope that I will be released soon. But that was not to be. The inspector came and called up the names of the first 6 from the list, in which I was part, to go inside the "Purush Bandigruh". There was also another person, who had attached Dr. prefixed to his name, to identify him to be a doctor.  The jail gate was not closed and inspector assured as soon as we went inside that we were not criminals and are being asked to stay inside the jail as the room is crowded and there was space constraint. He again assured the doctor that he values his profession and there wont be any verbal or physical abuse to anyone. I meanwhile found the things amusing and was naughty enough to send Whatsapp messages to my classmates explaining the situation and also browsing the Facebook(During that moment, I realised how addict I am to this social media, that I can't part with it even at the gravest of the settings). The police as said were indeed cordial with all and never spoke anything rubbish. Soon I started to voice record the conversations that were happening inside. One as I said was a under grad student, who had to submit his project report. He pleaded the police saying that others in his project group will not be able to submit theirs, in case he doesn’t reach the college. Another person was calling up his mother and saying that he was in a meeting at the office. I realised from the conversations inside that the Doctor saab was from Kasaragod and was a homeopathic doctor came to Mumbai for a conference. He was in discussion with a business man from Anand, Gujarat. Soon the inspector came in with the next set, instructed them to get inside the jail and again gave reassurances. He said if we comply, all the proceedings will get over in another half to one hour. 

The jail was a 2X3X4 metres cell. There were pan spits in every corner and there were no ventilation or light. Being the first experience inside a jail, I took a photo from inside the jail. With more people coming inside, it began to suffocate. Soon the inspector came in once again and called up once again the first set of people. 

"Iske andhar rahke kaise mahsoos ho raha hein? Saas atakh raha hei na? Yeh tho criminals ke liye hi sahi hein. Aap logon keliye nahin. Aap mein ek Doctor saab bhi tho hein. Dhoda dher hawa mein bhahar rahthe hein". 

Soon we were standing outside the police station, chit chatting each other. There were many and all of us were asked to wait until the charge sheet be prepared for all. There was another police officer guarding us who seemed rather new and jovial than the strict others. We just got to know about the further process from him. He opined that all will be took to the magistrate, where after the verdict as of how much rupees fine, will be released. 
People asked him, how much it usually will be, for which he said it depends upon the judge. He also said that this is a daily process and at least 50 get caught each day and the previous day the fine was Rs 300 and the day before it was Rs. 500. He said that the fine can vary from Rs 50 to Rs 500. Another person was bold enough to ask what happens if anyone run away. The police officer said politely that a case will be charged and he will be deemed as absconding and that everything was getting video taped.

Some were still pleading to the inspector to let them go for which the inspector said "aap thackerey ke aadmi ho, ya amitabh bhachan ki. Koyi phark na padne wala."
Soon the whole charge sheet making process was over and we were asked to make a group of three. The inspector commanded us to hold the hands. Other policemen were making sure everyone did this. Some were reluctant to do this for which he replied "Khush raho ki rassi se bhandha nahin". I and two others were leading the pack. We the group of 38 were walking under the command of the inspector across the busy Andheri roads, with people in the road quipping, "Kya hua?" as they saw the whole pack. 
Soon we reached the Andheri metropolitan magistrate court. The campus was busy enough that we were rarely noticed. Soon we reached outside the court. We had to wait till the charge sheets were processed and reaches the court. It was a 20 minute wait in there. Meanwhile the policemen surrounding us asked us to put the mobile phones in mute or switch them off inside the court. Soon the charge sheets came and all the 38 of us were guided towards the accused stand, big enough to accommodate most of us. There was a lady judge presiding and there was another case going on for which we had to wait to get completed. Judge provided some verdict and took up our case. 
The foreperson (the one who speaks for the whole jury, another know how gained) began to take the attendance, for which we had to raise our hands and the inspector said "Aye he sir" for each of us. Thus instead of giving attendance in the class I gave the attendance at the court. The whole dialogues were in Marathi and I couldn't sense anything. I just chorused what my fellow accused uttered. The question seemed to have "Do you admit that you have traveled in a disabled compartment?" for which all replied "haan". 
She gave a verdict, again in Marathi, which I later checked and came to know that was a fine of Rs.500. I was only having Rs 200 in my purse. We got outside the court and the police started collecting the money from each who had with them Rs. 500. Later they asked me to get the receipt from the room number 205. For 5 of us, who didn't had money but had the ATM card, the inspector collected our mobile phones and asked us to follow him to the ATM to get the money. Rest were asked to call up somebody and get money. 
Soon after a walk, found an SBI ATM from were I and fellow culprits(still culprits until fine is given :-)) withdraw Rs. 500 and gave it to the inspector along with other four. The inspector gave back the mobile and said "Beta, iska bill lena hein tho court me 205 room pe jaon. Yadhi nahin chaahiye tho aap jaa sakthe hein". Freedom after almost 3 hours of caged existence. It was surely a sense of relief and did got to know the meaning of what real freedom is all about. Also got to know that if you have eaten salt, you definitely will have to drink water, sooner or later. Made a decision that from now on, I would never get into another compartment other than the one I am legally supposed to get into. Also on a positive note got to know the various proceedings at a police station and a magistrate. 

Reached TISS by afternoon and shared the experiences with few of my friends. One of them was a pediatrician who is doing his Masters in Disability Studies at TISS and had his legs affected by polio from birth. He replied back "Bhahuth acha hua. Police ne tik kiya. Tumhe aisa sazaa hi milna chahiye." I showed him the receipt which had a mention of the Section under which I was fined. He took a note of it and said that in his home state of Bihar, people do this more often and no law prevents them creating problems for people including him. 

While in the evening it was raining and the trains had got delayed. 

In the Govandi station the speaker beamed with the Railway Rules.

Don't travel over the trains.
Don't spit in the railway station.
Don't cross the railway lines.
Don't try to board into a moving train.
Don't feed dogs in the railway station(??)
Don't travel in First Class compartment with a Second class ticket.
etc... and at last if caught will be fined.

I ruminated the whole morning episode upon hearing this, while waiting for the train. 

While waiting in the Kurla station, a person sitting nearby asked me: 

"Uncle, yeh CST keliye gaadi yahaan pe aayega kya?" 
"Haan yahaan pe hi aayega. Aap ko Dadar jaana hein?"
"Nahin CST"

I started of a conversation with him. 

"Aap kaam kar rahe hein?" 
"Haan Panvel mein"
"Kahaan pe" 
"SSV internet" 
"Aapke office Deonar mein hein?" As we had to get an internet connection at home.
"Deonar mein nahin he, Chembur mein hein" 

This guy was seen spitting in the railway station as he had pan in his mouth.

"Aaj mujhe police pakada thaa. Disabled compartment mein se"
"Oooo, kahaan pe"
"Andheri pe, wahaan pe 38 log the hum, jyadathar disabled compartment mein yaathra karne keliye, koyi railway line cross karne keliye aur koyi station mein dhookne 

I said to him as he was about to spit . He spit once again neverthless and said to me. 

"Hotha hein kabhi kabhi. Mere ko bhi ek baar TTE ne pakada thaa. Phir meine hath paav pakdke, gareeb hoon bolke nikal gaya"
"Chod diya" 
"Mein kabhi bhi ticket nahin letha hoon, harbour line mein, Panvel se Kurla thak" 
"Tho aap abhi bhi ticket bina yaathra kar rahe hein kya?" 
"Central line mein nahin CST mein khoob checking hothi hein. Mein harbour line ke bhaare mein bol raha thaa".

The train came in for Dadar and we both boarded the train. Soon the train reached Dadar and I bye byed my internet-wala, bina ticket se chalne wala friend and got into the Western line to catch my next train. The experiences continue in the local trains.

Thanks and regards, 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Prove the following - In Mumbai : Rains + Trains = Strains + Pains

Prove the following:

In Mumbai : Rains + Trains = Strains + Pains 
Rains in Mumbai has lost its vigour, it had during the initial two weeks. Mumbai had welcomed me (who had came in here for the 'Water' course) with 40% of the total average rainfall, clouds bursting out in the first few days of the monsoon itself. After that havoc, its strength has reduced considerably. But that doesn't mean it has lost its ability to slow down the usual pace of the city for a day or two. Last Friday was one such a day. It had started raining from early morning. It was gloomy outside when I woke up in the morning and I was sure that I will have to carry umbrella. I hate carrying umbrella(even during my school/college days in Kerala and mild drizzles of Bangalore, I seldom carried it), unless it is really needed. It is difficult to carry it, difficult to keep it and easy to forget it. The thought of travelling in local trains with umbrella makes it more haunting, here in Mumbai. I prefer getting drenched in rain, than carrying this cumbersome device. I could sense the rain's "ability to slow down" Mumbai during morning train commuting itself. The crowd was much less in the stations and I got a seat in two out of three trains, I travelled during the morning rush hours. This was first such instance over the last one month. Thus it was a travel in the "Business Class" and I had felt blessed. 

Soon after the classes, there was a fun event organized by the TISS Counselling Team "Celebrating Mumbaiya Rains", where in there was a Mela, some games and also a Rain DJ. Most of the students enjoyed the concept of rain dance with many dancing to the tunes of the DJ drenching themselves in the rain and others viewing it from the balconies. It was a very well organized event, though I felt the selection of the songs could have been better. There were usual "Balma", "Munni Badnam Huyi", "Ringa Ringa" and few Punjabi beats, which kept on boringly repeating. Dinesh, Deepesh, Anubha, Vivek, Akhil, Apoorva were some of the fellow dancers. "Tip Tip Barsa Pani" was the only song related to rains, which was un-danceable number for an "below par dancer" like me. I too tried my usual steps(Jai Salim Kumar) in what in Kerala we call it as a "Koothara" event. After "celebrating" the rain, I decided to return back to Malad. My aunt had called me in the afternoon and had informed me that many trains had got cancelled due to heavy rains and hence to start early from TISS. I forgot that warning as I got too involved in the event. Now the question popped up as to "How to reach back to Malad?" It was around 7pm. Called up Elizabeth and asked her whether she is planning to leave. She accompanies me to Govandi railway station last few days, from where she catches a train to Nerul. Elizabeth was relishing the Kulfi (another Mela product) along with Nidheesh and her other friends(Anupa, Brinda, Aswati). Soon Nidheesh, Elizabeth and me left from there. Elizabeth and Nidheesh are from Public Health course and both are jovial Malayalees(conspiring regionalism :-)). Nidheesh stays in TISS hostel and before parting ways, three of us got involved in a discussion. The discussion was on the topic "Caste Reservation" with each having interesting(controversial?) views, that we stood there on the side of the main road under the umbrellas(yes, it was raining still) for around half an hour and debating on the topic. Elizabeth put an end to the discussion stating it's almost 8pm and that it is getting late. After saying bye bye to Nidheesh, we walked our way to Govandi station, got tickets to Nerul and Malad respectively. I was eager to check whether trains are running in the "Harbour Line", which is usually the one which is worst affected and the service gets cancelled in this route, in case it rains heavily in Mumbai. While on the ticket queue, found a train plying and I had a sigh of relief. My mobile had 2% charge. Called up my aunt and conveyed to her that I will be boarding the train and my mobile is about to switch off. She said as it was 8 pm and she will expect me to reach by 10 pm. Another train came just after getting the ticket, as the ladders were wet and slippery (and since the trains were aplenty) decided not to rush to catch it(Ahankaaram). Elizabeth's train came soon (train to the opposite direction) and she was fortunate to get into the less crowded ladies compartment sandwiched between fully packed "gentleman's" coaches. Usually there will be a digital time table of the next train as to where it is going and the expected time in all the stations and it works efficiently on all "normal" days. But whenever there is a delay or cancellation of services, this digital device always shows the timing as 00:00 which in a way states you are doomed and the train could arrive at any time or even not arrive. I got a non-wet seat after some search in the platform and waited for the train to come. My phone had dead and there was nothing much to be done rather than waiting for the train. Rain was pouring outside and the railway station speakers blared something in Marathi. From the message I could only sense the apology from the railway authorities, which I assumed to be because of the late running or cancellation of trains. The railway station slowly began to get crowded and I started to feel restless partly for not risking to catch the previous train. To make matters worse, 4-5 trains went past in the opposite direction. . At last after about half an hour wait, a train came moderately packed. The crowd outside was enough to make it fully jam packed. Got down at Kurla station and the situation was similar in the "Central Line" too. Trains were cancelled and the digital clock time table showed 00:00. Waited there again for 15 minutes. Train to Dadar was a relief and I got a seat to sit. Now the last part of my daily train expedition, the "Western Line". Here too trains had been cancelled. Here the digital time tables were not 00:00, but it showed a time one hour back. This digital time table also shows whether the next train is a Fast or Slow train. All the trains were showing up towards Virar that too Fast trains. Few of these trains stop in malad, where I need to get out. It was getting late and taking my chance I rushed into a Virar Fast and thought even if the train doesn't stop in Malad, will go and get out at Borivali, two stations after Malad and come back from there. I got a seat in the train and thought the drama for the day has unfolded. The train reached Andheri station. From here the train has to go slow(means have to stop in the minor stations, of which Malad is one), in case I want to get down at Malad. But soon the speaker blared that the next stop is Borivali. 

Moments after this, there was some sort of confusion in the entrance, where in I saw a person coming in to the train and getting out with a bag from the baggage section of the train. The train just about at the same time started moving and another person rushed towards the door exit crying that it was his baggage. People standing near the door prevented him from jumping from the moving train. He tried to pull the chain but the fellow passengers said there is no use getting out as the person who took his baggage had disappeared into the crowd. The next stop being Borivali, the passengers began to circle round the "victim". I too went near to the person trying to console him and discuss what could be done. Some said to check the other person's baggage. All the passengers took their baggage and the one that was left behind was a pink plastic cover. I got particularly afraid while they were searching the baggage as two day's back I had that "Bomb"ay incident and aftermaths. 

Two or three searched the bag and found that it has some spinach in it. Soon the discussions followed. 

Pass 1: Arey, woh tho yahin pe khada tha. Door ke aas paas. 
Pass 2: Woh chalke phir aaya, aur bag leke nikal gaya.
Victim: Mera purse, company id aur laptop uspe hein . (Frustrated, busy trying to call someone through his mobile, but couldn't get them) 
Pass 3: Ab kya kare. 
Me: RPF ko phone laga sakthe hein na?
Pass 1, 2 and 3: Usse kya hone wala hein. Woh chala gaya hoga.
Pass 2 to Victim: Chehra dekha aapne?
Victim: Nahin.
Pass 1: Meine dekha tha. Woh yahin pe khada tha. 
Pass 1: Aap bhi na. Kyun yeh purse, id card sab uspe rakhe the? 
Pass 2: Laptop bhi hein. Aur kyon baggage vaha pe rakhe. 
Victim: Meine andhar he rakha tha. Kisko patha kein ki utaake le jaayega wahaan se?
Pass 2 to victim:(Trying to console) Bale aadmi hein tho call karega. Uske andhar thera number hein na?
Victim: Haan. Sab kuch hein us mei.
Pass 1: Nahin tho samjho gaya. Lekin woh kyun bag leke baagega? Uski tho yahaan pe ek cover hein.

This conversation continued and Borivali station came where I got out. (Hope that guy got his baggage back). 

Borivali station was again crowd sea. So many people waiting for trains. The effect of delayed and cancelled trains was clearly seen as the clock struck 10:00. Here too the digital time table was running 1 hour late. Soon I realised that the same problem which I faced in Dadar was in here too. All the trains that were coming were Fast trains, means they wont stop at Malad. Miser in me prevented from going in an Auto to Malad from Borivali. I had crossed the deadline given to my aunt, ie of 10:00 pm and with no mobile charge to call her up, I was sure about wrath There was another person who seems like a food vendor, an old man who also wanted to go to Malad. He was conversing to me in Marathi as he found me also bound to Malad. Though I couldn't understand anything he said, I just nodded my head to everything he was saying. Two or three fast trains went past. I was getting restless and decided to board the next train whatever it may be. 

In the digital notice board, for the next train it was mentioned as it will stop in Malad in one side and it won't stop in Malad in the other side. This added to the confusion. I decided to try my luck once again. Boarded into the train. The old man kept on asking me whether it will stop at Malad, but I didnt had an answer. I just said to him: "Dekh lethe hein, nahin tho Andheri jaakar, wahan se vaapas aa jaayenge." He rubbished me in Marathi and went on to ask others the same. Later I recognised that he had his vessels with him which would be difficult to carry if in case he had to get down and board another train. The train was not going to stop in Malad only for me and thus, I shuttled back to Andheri. I had to wait another 10 minutes there. There were many dogs lying around and I fondled it caringly. It was almost 10:40 pm and atlast a slow train came to Borivali. Slowly but surely, it reached Malad at around 10:55pm. There was a shared auto waiting for a person. Got into that and I reached my aunt's home at 11:15pm. They were surely tensed and I didn't describe all this to them to make matters worse . Was feeling horribly hungry after all this ordeal and hence gobbled up the delicious, home made dinner and went to bed.

Thus In Mumbai:
Rains + Trains = Strains + Pains 
Hence proved.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The class got over early today and as a result was returning back to Malad before the rush hours begin. As a result could see the spacious interiors of the train and also got the rare opportunity to rest my weight on my buttocks in the train seats(I travel in 3 trains, remember). After a smooth ride from Govandi to Kurla and Kurla to Dadar, I took the third train to Malad. It was a Virar Fast and got a seat in spite of a crowd, thanks to an empty train. The train left Bandra and Andheri and the un-embodied lady voice in the speaker said "Poodil station Borivali". Borivali station comes two stations after the Malad station. Being a fast train, this train was not going to stop at Malad, just for my sake. Cursing myself for not getting down at Andheri to get another slow train, I hoped that TTE(have not seen him in local trains till date) wont find me in Borivali. Soon after the train left Andheri, suddenly there was a blast. People standing near the door as well as few sitting panicked and started to run towards the other side saying "BOMB". I too thought something has went wrong, though didn't get up from my precious seat(chathalum vidilla(wont give the seat, even if dead) :-)). Soon there was an alcoholic smell all around. :-) Somebody was carrying a Beer bottle and it had broke due to pressure. Everyone started to laugh around realizing this and one mockingly said this is not allowed in train and we should call 1311(RPF number). Soon there were discussions and comedies regarding the same.

Passenger 1(a middle aged man): Arey, mein tho socha bomb phat gaya?
Passenger 2(another middle aged): Haan bhai, mein bhi tho dar gaya thaa.
Passenger 3(an old man drenched one side with beer): yadhi bomb hua ho tho mera sar phat gaya hotha.
Passenger 1: aap hee nahin sabhi ke sar phat gaya hotha.
Passenger 1 to Passenger 4(the one with a broken beer bottle and seemingly broken heart): RPF ko phone laga dhoom? Beer train pe laana mana hein. Patha hein naa.
Passenger 4:
Passenger 2: Chalne dho yaar.
Passenger 1 to Passenger 3(the old man): Aapse, beer ki badhbhu aa rahi hein, aapki biwi aaj daandegi aapko.
All passengers including me

Soon Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Malad and Kandivali stations pass through, and people including me started to move towards the door to get down at Borivali. The whole place was full of Beer and there was an intoxicating smell all around.

Passenger 5: Arey kissi police ya TTE aaye tho kya bolenge?
Passenger 2: Bol denge ki dharu ka bhaarish aaya thaa...

Everyone including me laughed once again and all got down at Borivali... :-)

Thank God I am alive. After all laughter improves longevity of life :-)

Escaped from the TTE(if there is any) at Borivali station and took another train back to Malad.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Trains, trains come again…

Mumbai local train lines are divided into mainly three - Western, Central and Harbour lines. These are parallel lines and to reach a destination in another line, we need to change trains at few of the common stations. Malad comes in the Western Line, while Govandi, the stop near to TISS comes in Harbour Line. So to go from Malad to Govandi in train means I will have to change trains twice and thus travel in 3 trains. I usually get a train from Malad to Dadar(Western Line), then Dadar to Kurla(Central Line) and from there again another train to Govandi (Harbour Line). There is another way the number of trains traveled can be reduced to two, but that doesn't seem to be time efficient. Hence I usually take this three train approach. This non availability of a straight train had compelled me stay at a place near to TISS, though the expenses are more. I had been in Malad at my aunt's house last whole week owing to the need of Internet to do my IBM work. This made me travel to and fro TISS in the local trains of Mumbai and experience the rush hours, both in the morning and in the evening. Trains come and leave almost every 5 minutes at any station, up country or down. People bulging out of the trains are a usual scene during these hours. Some seem to love this as it is airy than the suffocating insides.

Mumbai train commuting has made me spell bound, to say the least. Mumbai is the densest city in over populated India and the local trains in here are even denser. By far it might be the most efficient public transport system available in this world. Not only because these trains run on time and ticket charges are less but also because of the fact that it is used to its maximum capacity by the people. The train charges and nil blocks are perhaps the main reason why people opt this service even if they need to fight it out everyday with other people. Rains do reduce the time efficiency, with cancellation of services especially in the Harbour Line, but that doesn’t dent these services being the life line of Mumbai. All varieties of crowd can be seen in a jam packed train if we go at 9:00am. From college/school students, fish sellers, IT professionals, Bank Staffs, blind, deaf, differently-abled, wannabe directors, actors, all have made this part of their life. There are two types of services – Fast and Slow. Fast trains stop in few of the main stations, while slow trains stop in all stations. During rush hours, there is a heavy demand for faster trains. Each train has compartments meant for ladies, differently abled, first class and general. There are 12 compartment trains as well as 9 compartment ones. Moreover there are some trains exclusive for ladies.

All railway stations I felt as neat and tidy, as per our Indian standards. All the railway stations have food joints, where they serve all Pav varieties, Lime, Orange, Kokam juices and other namkeens. The next train timing can be seen in the platforms and also the speaker blare moments before any train come, as to which time it is of and where it is bound to.

You need to be fast, furious and more over physically and mentally agile in case you need to get into a crowded train. I am more of a safe traveler, who prefers to miss the train rather than clunging on to it. Being a bit fat commuter in Mumbai is a crime, especially if you are traveling in the local train. Anyways even if you are fat and manage to get inside, you will be squeezed to the portion allotted to you. Carrying a baggage again is considered an offense and in case you have one, it has to be within the space allotted to you by others. Most compartments have the station indicator installed, which blare out before every station reached. “Poodil station Malad followed by Agala station Malad“. The train stops for roughly 20 seconds in each of the stations. But as a matter of fact, it is advisable to make your way to the exit 2 stations before, in case you want to get down. Twice or thrice I have missed the station, simply because I had not prepared to get out well in advance. In any case verbal abuse is sure. Verbal abuse in various languages, you will get to learn in a crowded train. There is virtually no regards to people who are differently abled kid or a woman, but better I don’t generalize all.

Rains + Trains = Pains in Mumbai. As mentioned above, trains run late in case there is heavy rain. Moreover people become more frenzy and aggressive. Even if it is an empty train, the crowd has developed the habit of mad-rushing into the train.
Just mentioning a recent “decent” conversation between two fellow commuters to give an idea of how the trains are interconnected to the everyday life (& perhaps death) of people in here. Though I couldn't see any of them, found the conversation interesting. It was the one which I heard as the train started from Malad. It was raining and I too rushed inside the train from Malad railway station like many others. A person was hanging out of the train, getting drenched in rain outside and this conversation was between him and a sympathetic person inside.

Man Inside: Arrey, kyun aise latak ke aa rahe ho? Agale train pakad saktha tha naa, thu?
Man Hanging: Kaam keliye dher ho rahi hein. Is train choot gaya tho, late ho jayegi… Kaam choot jaayegi phir…
Man Inside: Train choot gaya tho, late ho jayega ya kaam choot jaayegi, uthna hi, yadhi thera hath choot gaya tho zindagi choot jayegi…