Sunday, 17 June 2012

Travel Blues (Part III) (Silchar to Lumding)

RK Rishikesh Sinha

Relationships that build up between co-passengers in journeys are sometimes very funny that fails to go unnoticed. Journeys appear as a moving theatre of human behavior. I recently witnessed while coming from New Delhi to Guwahati, the simmering tension between two families got its ugly eruption at Maligaon. Both the families, including men and women, started abusing each other. I don’t understand why people fight in journeys, if there is no encroachment of reserved berth.  However, fighting does take place, and sometimes they are diffused.  

One such incident took place during a journey between Silchar Railway Station and Lumding, which is considered as the most scenic train routes in India. As soon as the train had left Silchar, and we made our arrangement, a man in late twenties started conversing with other co-passengers. Something that was welcomed initially became a public nuisance when his constant chattering on different topics didn’t stop till noon. The passengers in the whole bogie got irritated and it was decided to teach a lesson to him. I was confirmed that nobody would dare to go physical, understanding the racial gene that make up the passengers in the train.

People slept listening to his chattering, and when they awoke they heard the same chattering from him. He didn’t stop for a minute. He was catching passengers who got up at various stations to talk. Then from a station, a group of CRPF personnel in uniform with their trunks and beddings boarded. The person caught them.

Like a cinema hall, all the passengers in the bogie had already fixed their eyes on the person, guessing the fate of him. We all were waiting for the climax to unfold. He started his conversation complaining about India with them. More than a conversation, it took the shape of an argument. Both the parties were not silent. Their argument went on for hours, initially being sober and respectful, it turned rude and impolite. A Havildar-rank jawan came from “Aap” to “Tu” while debating with the person. Then the moment came, it seemed in the heat of anger and anguish, the jawans would fall upon the person.

“How much do you know about India? — You’re talking about US and other foreign countries. They got their independence centuries ago than India. — Do you know?” the voice boomed with such force that it stunned everyone in the bogie.   

More than the fact, the belligerence of the jawan stopped the person to open his mouth for few minutes. There was a pin-drop silence in the whole bogie. Passengers were smiling looking at each other. Understanding that the topic would be harmful for him, the person changed the topic and he initiated another topic, and he asked the jawan, “Have you watched Sholay?” That was enough to bring passengers to chuckle and they were not bemused with his change of track. “Who haven’t watched Sholay?” said the jawan. “I have seen thrice. — Gabbar Singh’s role is my favourite,” said the person.

Even on the topics of movies, every time they locked horns with each other. As soon as the tension grew up, it was diffused by changing the name of the movie and by asking a question, “Have you seen this movie?” by the person. The person’s initial answer began like this, “I have watched…times.” Irritated with the person, the jawan in a complaining voice said, “Why do you watch every movie again and again?” Before his answer came, the train entered into Lumding platform. Cutting short the conversation, the person said, “Do visit my home in Silchar, if any time you get time. Since you people travel all over India.” In an annoying voice, the jawan said, “Half of the month, we remain in train. We meet lot of people like you in our journeys.” The train stopped at the platform. Then he got busy arranging the trunks and the beddings. While getting down from the train, he said to the person, “Is it necessary to visit your home?” Saying this, the group melted in the crowd of passengers.  
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