When I am not armed with my book, it’s hard not to notice the plethora of activities that takes place in the local trains. It can keep you entertained, enthralled and engrossed. I always take the ladies compartment unless I am running to catch the last compartment before it departs [Yes!! I run]. The probability of landing next to someone who is gossiping about their in-laws is always high, though I prefer to sit next to non-talkative women; this is just not possible ;) Of course they entertain you with all the affairs of their house hold; it gets to its peak when the other woman starts giving her expert advice. Phew! I don’t understand with so much of knowledge sharing [KT] that happens among women they still aren’t able to get over the woes of a married life.
The women in their mid 30’s and 40’s have been commuting by train for over decades and have their own trusted group of friends hopping on and off the stations. I wonder if we in the 20s can ever make such friendships – Train pals. I find most of them plugged to their IPods/Mobiles if they aren’t accompanied by the known. Are we the gadget spoilt brats of today? Well I don’t prefer to carry an IPod, otherwise how do you think I can hear all gossips ;) Honestly, with the background noise, it’s hard to enjoy your music yet find it easy to indulge in a book!! 20’s in groups are more entertaining because one gets to hear about boys ;) Now the story shifts to all love stories :) you can also find these odd singles constantly hooked onto their phones, wonder how they get signal when I don’t! Then you can find gals like me busy observing others or lost in their own. I am sure now you REALLY know how observant I am of my surroundings!
If all these aren’t just enough to keep you occupied, there are the vendors. I was indeed quite amused initially to find people sell all kinds of stuff at a very very reasonable price wondering if I am still within the limits of Chennai Metropolitan! My favorites are the vegetable and fruit vendors; where in the city do you get vegetables for 5 bucks and fresh [if you are alert]? Fruits for half the price to the ones I get close to home. Not to forget the joy in haggling, nah I isn’t good, still it’s fun. Evenings when you are just so hungry, you have vendors selling junk food, [read chips and its variants, pop corn etc], haven’t tried them though. The pick of edibles is the Hot, Hot [claimed to be] samosas! The aroma that it brings in is really hard to deny; despite the fact that your rational head says they aren’t hygienic. They taste just ok. You can easily munch your journey away!
Train commutation makes life simple, sans the traffic jams and road signals. It is definitely an aura packed with various genres of life. One gets interrupted mid way through a book reading more often than not by people asking for alms. It can be annoying at times, but it leaves me wondering all the time on the quality of life we are all bestowed up on. There are reasonable number of blind men and women who ask for alms as they croon, some even carry a microphone; the others prefer to sell books, cell phone covers and house hold utilities. What are even more quizzical are the tiny tots who perform different kinds of antics to earn a rupee or two. One gets to see all forms of poverty, disability and impoverishment here. Now that I feel is really a sad karmic connection, for who would want to be a witness to the sufferings of the ill-fated, everyday as you start to work.
The train system by itself is very good. It serves the purpose. You have train plying every fifth or tenth minute that talks for the frequency and schedule. Unless there is any mishap, you are always on time. Advantage women again, with ladies compartments and in the direction I commute, I get to be seated about 96% of the time. Now doesn’t that mean comfort? One thing that definitely needs some attention is the cleanliness factor, wish the stations and tracks could be kept clean [not maintained clean]; I just wish!
If you haven’t yet traveled in our local trains, I recommend you do to get a feel of a life whose existence you aren’t aware of. I have commuted by train only twice before I started commuting to work. It’s worth the experience if you are a keen observer who likes to wander around and be on your own. I am sure going to miss these journeys, but have taken a secret [?] resolution to hop on and off, when I want to be camouflaged in thoughts.