May be I am horrible at choosing titles.. Read on…
Railway stations are special places. May be it has something to do with romanticisation of these stations. Unlike other mass-transportation mediums say like, bus stands or airports. Airports are a logistic hassle considering security check, baggage, boarding and all. There is no time for those chemical/hormonal reactions to take place. The bus stand signify generally an uncomfortable journey ahead. Also the journeys are mostly of short distances. No romantic value. Whereas the railway stations has all the ingredients, not surprisingly it puts people from all strata on a level platform both literally and figuratively.
There is much more to it. The railway journey is also a metaphor for human life. Inside the train, you play chess, cards, drink booze illegally. Converse with your fellow travelers about Indian bureaucracy, filth surrounding the tracks, the not so punctual railway time-table, and obviously argue about politics and cricket.. It doesn’t end there, few people just journey through the train and all its commotion sleeping, similar to many who do that in their life (WAKE UP). Many walk through the coaches and cabins bird watching. Few just prefer to stand out there near the door and feel the wind brushing past, whereas there are those who would want to sit next to the window and dream.. Then there are the incredible visuals of stark poverty, disability and transsexual bullying.
Samosai..samosai….! Chaaaai Chaaaai..!!
This post is not about journeys in the train, but about the stations. The stations signify starting points and finishing points. It is also the point of tears and joys. It is the point of parting and reunions. It is the point of hellos and goodbyes. Point of assurances and the success of that delusional hope. It is the point of “I will miss you” and “I missed you”.
Enough intro, its story time..
May be the reader can chew a bit more. Let’s take our moviedom. Classics finish on Railway stations. Dilwale dulhaniya at the Apta station in Maharashtra.. Slumdog millionaire’s “Jai ho” on the iconic CST might be a bit bollywoodish, but it still answers the question of “What does it take to find lost love?” A)Money B)Luck C)Smarts or D)Destiny..!!! In Malayalam, we have our own classic Thoovanamthumbikal. Well it holds a special place in my heart as the climax happens at Ottapalam railway station.
Well, I am not going to list the movies featuring trains and railway station, as the list is almost endless, may be the reader can share what he thinks is his favorite station and the memory associated with it in a movie or real life.
OK! So, One of the over-used cliched statements is that you cannot forget your first love, well for that matter you cannot forget your first slap, first job, first salary, even first marathon for that matter. Anyways, first love is still first love, it is right at the top of the short or long list one might have. I remember my first love. ( I don’t love her now, for the record!) I think it is cute to reminisce about your lost love when one is not in love anymore. Those who are in their second (or nth) innings, don’t bother with it. The thing with first love is that you only remember the cute and nice aspects of it and not about how big of JERK you had been, which is in fact the reason that it is just the ‘first’ love and not the ‘last’.
Hee hee.. Evil laugh..!!
Anyways, I had stopped loving or chasing her couple of years after our so-called ‘courtship’. [I don’t want to reveal my age at that point and get laughed at] And after that I saw her once in a mall and had a conversation which was quite “normal”. I think that made me sure that it is over and we were pretty even. We never became friends or kept in touch though I was pretty sure that she avoided me and everything that had to do with the place we were together. She even avoided our mutual friends, as far as I can say. I didn’t know then what would happen to me when I meet her again. And how both of us would react, though I had wondered about it!!
Fast Forward <2010 December>.. I fell in love at first sight and later I got married..!!
Fast Forward <2013 March>.
I am in Chennai railway station. [MAS], Why do I get into altercations when I am about to leave Chennai? Some karma, I say! I am having my dinner at the Saravana Bhavan. It is crowded. Finally got a seat, had some water from my water bottle, had kesari and four idlis. The food is good. (No, I don’t meet her at the eatery. You people !!! This is real not reel.) I pay the bill. It is Rs.111. I pay a bill-boy Rs.120 and wait for the change and in the mean time I am standing as I made the seat available for a lady. I started filling my bottle with water. And suddenly a waiter started shouting in that overcrowded, noisy place. (When an Indian says, a place is crowded, it is crowded.) I didn’t think he was calling me, I filled the bottle and looked at him and he was like
“you can’t fill the bottle”.
And I am like, “Dude”, (the size of the bottle is puny, lemme tell you that)
I looked at him in disbelief and with disgust. He continued, “How many times should I call you,
I was like, “How the hell do I know, that you are calling me of all the people here..?”
He wanted me to pay Rs.5 for the water. I was totally furious. I was planning to pay the remaining Rs.9 as tips anyways. Meanwhile a “bill-boy” brought the change back and I said in not so dignified way to take his Rs.5 from the change, he was also in an aggressive stance. I started grabbing my bags and get out of there. And Again! The same waiter with white shirt and neck tie was standing in the aisle in my way towards the exit along with the person he was taking orders from.
I shouted “Excuse me”
I just barged and gave him a good push with my bags and started walking out. He shouted something from behind. I stopped and turned back. (I think similar to Kohli and Gambhir, we both might have breached ICC code of conduct: Level 1) and I gave him stares and just got out. With that adrenaline pumping inside I was at the huge lobby at the station and then I saw a face in a crowd of 6-8 young people. I had to do a double take. It was her, I was sure. I didn’t approach nor did I close in to take a closer look and make a confirmation. I just walked to the platform where I was supposed to get the tatkal ticket sent overnight with a stranger. I was in 3rd tier and the stranger was in s1 which was the bogey next to it. I sat at the bench outside waiting for the stranger with thoughts passing through my mind about the possibility of she being in the same train. Also at my maturity(or something else) of not approaching her and providing her with her privacy she might have wanted.
Soon, my thoughts went back to Saravana Bhavan. I was wondering why there is such a no-bottling-of-water policy at these restaurants. Many western countries try to encourage such a system as to reduce the burden of plastic bottles. And here we are. Our mindset clearly needs to tilt towards “go green”. I was also thinking about karma factor. That, if Tamil Nadu give water to its citizens and its guests in a responsible manner, may be then Tamil Nadu will get water from its neighboring states without even asking..!!!
Soon, The group of young people was walking in front of me. She had seen me, in fact she was walking with her face facing opposite to me in a manner to avoid my attention. I saw her and gave a wry smile to myself, telling “C’mon, I am not going to eat anybody here..” She soon walked past. And I sat there waiting for the stranger and my ticket. Soon, the stranger also came and we exchanged pleasantries and gave me the ticket which the T.T.E never asked nor examined. He was just interested to check my I.D card.
A small smile came to my face. May be I wasn’t hiding and that is the reason for my freedom and my smile. I had come to terms with my ghosts. The easiest way is to confront it and bid adieu to it. Hiding and running from something will only make you vulnerable. May be that is true with LGBT people, people in love, people with bad experiences in the past. Confront it. Face it. Accept it. Now be refreshed and feel like a virgin..!
Now in that regard, I had to share it with my wife. Not to escape from a guilt of hiding. It was neither to give her any assurances. May be just to have that communication channel between us without any slime or sludge.
Well. That’s it.
P.S: Concealed the communication between us. Just to add the mystery element and avoid some cheesy romance.
P.P.S: My morning runs are in the Anna university C.E.G ground these days, In the campus canteen, the water cooler/filter has a board which denies students from bottling water. The canteen sells packaged water in plastic bottles. Bad move chancellor, Bad move. Terribly upset too.