I rarely travel by train, mostly because of the difficulty in getting the tickets, the inconvenient timings and the thought of going to Bangalore railway station in rush hour traffic. But apart from this, it is probably the most comfortable cost efficient way to travel to Trivandrum. Especially ever since they (re)started charging big bucks for flights.
The beauty of a train journey is that you observe life around you. In a bus its more like, sticking an iPod in your ear, wondering why you never get the seat next to a girl, praying that the driver stops soon rather than testing your bladder control. Don’t know why, but the whole set-up for socializing is missing in a bus journey. Train is different. You seem to feel more comfortable to strike a conversation and you get to know a lot about your co-travellers, even without a word being uttered.
On this Onam trip to Trivandrum from Bangalore, I had this very interesting but typical gang as my fellow passengers. Passenger A, was the typical mallu hero. He comes from this small town near Trivandrum, now making it big in a big-shot company in Bangalore. He likes to tell his tales, his tales of glory especially when there is a girl next to him (Aw! Sounds eeriely similar to me :D ). Very quickly he takes on the protector role of Ms. Passenger B. For a moment Ranjith (who was travelling with me) and I, thought both of them had come together, then thought maybe they were college mates, then maybe old friends, then as their conversations progressed came to know that they had first laid eyes on each other on this very train. Passenger B was smart too. She made good use of the situation. In no time, poor Mr. A was running around getting water bottles, pushing heavy luggage, ordering food etc. etc. And then they started talking about Bangalore traffic and why you don’t get train tickets and yeda yeda. So attention had to shift.
There is always one pretty girl on the train who seems to be not concerned about the world around her. We had our own Passenger C to play that role. As soon as she came and sat, she pulled out a book and started reading it with vigour as if the fate of the world hangs on whether she completes the book in time or not. The other people in the compartment are unimportant subjects when it comes to our lady, but at the same I’m pretty sure she’s well aware that the glances of all the males in the compartment tend to converge on her. At least I’m sure about my case, since she caught my glance a couple of times hehe. Alas, the queen went to her hive too soon and in the morning as I woke up from my middle berth the lady was already out. :(
Then there was Passenger D and Passenger E. Mr. D is a perfect artist interested in watching classical French films (without subtitles by the way) and is also intelligent enough not to waste a single rupee as he knows how to use torrents. Mr. E doesn’t seem to be interested, but definitely now has great knowledge of the technology behind torrents, 70mm movies and why Heath Ledger doesn’t deserve an Oscar and some obscure French guy does.
Mr. F is an ‘almost’ fresh graduate out from an engineering college in Kerala. The first people he talks to are us and we start the regular flow of questions – *“Which college did you study in?”* The XYZZY college. *“Oh great! Then you must know Vinod”* Pinnilaathe! We were best friends, he was in b’lore last week. *“He was in Bangalore? Oh I so lost touch with him”* Yeah, so you were 2006 batch? Then you must know Vikram? *“Yeah off course I know Vikram, his friend Shyam studied there too right?”* … … … and in no time it is proven that I know all his friends and he knows all mine!
Then there were two guys absolutely bored. They gossip about old college mates, discuss world matters, ponder about the future of software engineering, wonder whether Chrome can beat Firefox.. more or less putting on a show that they know what they are talking about and at the same time ensuring that others (specially the pretty girl) are noticing them. But then all of a sudden, all topics come to an end. Nothing more to do, they start to observe the people around them. And as they make fun of others, and while one is planning on how to structure his next blog on these observations, they come to know… all these things they told about everyone else, every single one of the traits they can find in either themselves or their close friends. ‘They’ are ‘us’. God sure seems to have used the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V technique a lot when he was programming our genes. Good one my Lord! A true microcosm of people I know, didn’t I say trains were cool?