Monday, October 19, 2009

Creative Juices

I write this post travelling on what, prima facie, shows great promise of being a rather harrowing train journey in a cramped chair car compartment. I'm travelling to Kota for a family Diwali get together. The one thought that reiterates itself every half hour or so is that the average age of the gathering is well above mine. Having been given one's constraints, one hopes to optimize within the barriers by infusing copious amounts of juvenility (if that's even a word) into the high-average-age gathering. Then again, if one has known my family at close quarters for as long as I have, then one knows that while we may be disparate vis-a-vis our physical ages, we have the amazing ability to achieve a condition of concurrence as far as our mental ages are concerned (given the right conditions).

Talking of constraints then. Allow me to describe the scene around me. I have, time and again, apprised and updated my readers of my dimensions. As the train chugs out of the station, you would find my mother, sister and aunt on the right side of the aisle. My father is in the seat right in front, making small talk with his two neighbours. Me, you will find in the middle seat with a gentleman on the left whose dimensions far exceed mine, even by the most generous of estimates. On the right hand boundary of this ill-fitted sandwich is a lady whose bag (comfortably placed right in front of the seat) far exceeds my dimensions, even by the most generous estimate. Needless to say, the bag whilst luxuriously seated, is rather brazenly making unlawful intrusions into my leg space. Many a men have for long dreamed of a damsel accompanying them on a journey to a distant land, (if not for anything, for the sheer passage of hours) and found themselves seated next to a middle-aged pot. One tends to lose faith in the mechanisms of justice in the universe when the dream does come true, and yet, comes in the form of a short straw that is rather un-damsel-ly. In the sheer absence of a good swear word, 'Cramped' I believe was the word I chose a few lines ago. Let's stick to it; more for the sake of decency rather than brevity.

At this point, I must also graciously acknowledge two deaths that have occurred recently. The first, is the death of the incessant chattering of two children(aged between four and eight) that filled up the airspace behind my seat. That, I daresay, is a more than welcome relief. That incessant, incoherent squeaking had far worn out its welcome. The squeaking, however, recently reincarnated itself into the voice of a gentleman sitting behind me who wishes to make his conversation head to everyone in the bogey. So much for my short-lived relief. The second death, which occurred as soon as the train rolled out, was of something you find aplenty in India- unsolicited advice. Advice on how to sit, where to sit, how to 'adjust', how to cheat the laws of gravity and place luggage in a way that would allow the adviser to fit in that extra piece of redundant luggage on the rack, at the expense of the advisee's space. This was something that half my family rather gladly partook in (thankfully not the 'adjust'-ing bit).

Some food has now begun to do the rounds. Now that all of us find ourselves occupied with our own pedantic occupations (most of us reading, one of us writing), I notice two things. Actually, three. First (what I noted while I wrote the last sentence), is the enormous mess the food is going to create. The second, is how my hand has got used to writing amid the forced horizontal oscillations that a train journey entails. My handwriting is back at its atrocious best, after having made a beyond-illegible beginning. Third, and most importantly, I realize that I had to intended to write about something entirely different when I began this post. That will now have to wait.

I also begin to worry about my return three days hence, when I travel in a non-AC seater without a food tray on which I can put pen to paper. The railways are such a delight to one's creative juices.

  • Completed at 1632 hrs on 16th October, 2009.
  • Punchline of the moment: "A sorry does not make a dead man alive." (Words of wisdom from the loudmouth on the phone)
Await for the next post to emerge from this four hour journey!

(The author, while typing this, had already performed the return journey. While he found a food tray, it was too dirty to put paper on. Not to mention the incessant screaming and crying of practically every infant in North-West India who had invaded his compartment. Of course, the disturbance created at the end by a band of eunuchs was quite the delight.)


Anonymous said...

always a pleasure reading your blogs....this one is close coz i did travel a lot in cramped compartments in north india (without ac)! Good ones...although you forgot to mention the beetle leaf spits!


Wanderer said...

Thanks Swagata :)

No this one, for change had no visible corners for the beetle leaf spits!

Unknown said... long was the journey? reminded me of our class trips to shima and dulhousie! although i havent travelled a lot by train since then, being a guy whose "dimensions far exceed most..." ..i am quite used to the "o bhai saab thoda ADJAAAST kar lo" taunt in the buses in my sympathies are with that copassenger..

Manav said...

Just because you're emaciated, and will probably be one of the first few casualties in the event of world famine, does not mean you can poke fun at people "whose dimensions generously exceed yours"!

Nice post. The end, though, reminds me of a hellish trip to Amritsar last year on the Shan-e-Punjab, on a 95 Rupee ticket with milkmen sloshing milk on my feet from Jallandar to Amritsar, kids crying, women being sick, popcorn vendors droning etc. etc.

Wanderer said...

I just think that the railways should be proud of giving so many people so many stories to share! :D