Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Co-Passengers - What a Mixed Lot!

I enjoy travelling alone on long distance train journeys … after a hectic college schedule (now office schedule) chilling on the upper berth with a novel and dozing off reading it is something which signifies the ultimate rest for me…

It is fun to reminisce about the various co-passengers I have had… some gud, some plain boring… an 18+ hr train journey Is livened up by these specimens!

My journey from Ernakulam to Hyderabad for my MBA project is probably my longest journey alone till date. Saddled on berth 72 in a non AC coach, I knew the journey was going to be tiresome… but what I had not bargained for was a bunch of rowdy bankers off on a department holiday to Hyd. In the evening; the rowdies began singing round after round of crazy malayalam songs drinking what looked like Limca from a bottle, which later turned out to be ‘desi daru’… I tried my level best to ignore the melee and quietly had my dinner. Then I saw the pantry guys coming with cups of milk. I bought a cup…

“Hey, don’t drink that milk, that is Camel Milk!” shouted one of the rowdies to me…!

Needless to say, I paid them a deaf ear, drank the milk n dozed off. I was to reach Secunderabad only at noon n hence looked forward to sleeping till 10… little did I know that I would not be allowed my full beauty sleep!

Come morning, I was rudely awakened by someone pushing me… yes, the rowdies! Guess, what?

“Are u ok? It is 8 now, since u dint get up we wondered if something happened to u, thanks to drinking that Camel Milk!”, the one waking me up explained.

Of course, I was royally put off… My sleep disturbed, I had no option but to count hours till Secunderabad… God! Wasn’t I glad when the awful journey ended!

This April travelling from Mumbai to my home town alone, I had a different experience with co-passengers. Just in after a particularly stressful week in office, I was looking forward to the trip. I went up to sleep. The pantry guy came around just then n I ordered a bread omlette for breakfast the next day. I also warned him that I would be asleep and he will have to wake me up and give me my breakfast. He agreed n left.

The next morning I woke at well past 9. I realized that the pantry guy has not woken me up and I have to go without breakfast. It is then that a co-passenger uncle came up to me with my bread omlette…

“We thought u looked tired n in need of sleep, so we dint let the pantry guy wake u up and instead, bought ur breakfast for u!”, he said.

I was touched by the thoughtfulness of my co-passengers… it was amazing to see people I was meeting for the first time show so much concern…

Kids can sometimes be a real pain to travel with. I remember once a bunch of kids where being exhorted to play ‘Hanuman’ by their parents… making loud noises and jumping here n there, the kids were trying to impersonate Hanuman. Of course, the plight of their co-passengers who had to bear the noise and nonsense all night was not their concern, was it?

And then there was the girl who came up to me in my last year’s train journey and enquired plaintively:

“When will you leave? Leave soon, I need ur seat so my whole family can sit together!”, she stated.

I have always felt it unnerving to open my eyes in the morning in a train and see unfamiliar faces around me. Whenever I wake up in the train imagining myself to be looking like a wreck I am faced with co-travelers waving cheery good mornings!

I sometimes wonder how boring and long my train trips would be if not for this continuous study in human nature… here’s looking forward to more trips and more vignettes with co-passengers!

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

How Old are You?

Bryan Adams once famously sang ’18 till I die!’… My observation about age is that, one is never fully content with what age he/she currently is… some want to be younger, some wish they could be older… but I feel that life in the 20s really rocks… doesn’t it?

Teenagers always find themselves fraught with problems and confusions which seem to be all important. They then wish to get out of the teens and into the 20s soon.

People who cross 30 feel they are closer to being over the hill now… 30 is the scary number (even for me!) which signifies the entry into a new decade of life closer to the ‘middle ages’. I am sure people in their 30s feel like going back into the 20s… (I definitely would!)

What is it about the 20s which is so attractive? For one, I feel that the 20s decade is very eventful in any person’s life. It sees him move from student life to work life and (usually) then married life. It is the decade where there is a delightful balance of freedom and responsibility. If teenage keeps one under the thumb of parents, the 20s signifies the age of breaking free especially when one starts working thereby becoming financially independent. Also, one attains a maturity in being responsible for himself and learns to make his own decisions and stick by them.

The 20s is also usually the age when one finds companionship in the form of spouse/partner. Life changes a lot then but is still enjoyable in its new phase. There is possibility of self discovery along with getting to know your partner.

I am currently in the latter part of 20s and still enjoying this phase of my life. But of course, opinions on this differ. I have a friend who loves posh cars. He always makes an observation when we pass a posh car on our way – he says that most posh cars (merc, BMW, etc) are usually driven by drivers and ply paunchy old men. In the 20s, we have age on our side, with the energy and desire to drive on roads in any car we like… but we lack the money for it… :- ) and finally when we make money, age is not on our side and we acquire whatever we wish to (be it car or whatever) but have to depend on others, like drivers. How true na?

We always hear statements like ‘Age is just a number, u are only as old as u feel!’… as for me, I love being in this phase and if feeling 20 always will keep me there forever… I m willing to give it a try!