These are true events from my first solo train trip. All my family vacations had equipped me with enough skills and paranoia to get through it. To survive any Indian train platform one needs to bring out their inner ninja skills. You have to be in your “Unagi” state using all five senses to the best. With one wrong decision, you might be in the way of wind carrying a noseful of stench. With heightened awareness, I figured out the perfect spot. Though I am not a fan of the waiting time, I love train journeys..especially if it’s in the Rajdhani “affordable pampering on wheels”.
All excited, I found my seat number and pounced on the window side. Look, you have precedence over everyone and everything if you have the lower berth. Even my luggage got the better, safer spot by the window. Next up was a quick scan to know the territory: checked for overly talkative, curious & interfering aunties; babies and ofcourse the general creeps! Well, it wasn’t bad. My fellow cubicle mates were some netaji like (my definition of someone in Nirma safedi white overalls) uncles with spouses & a couple of college girls. After thanking all my Gods, I kicked back, relaxed and put on my ear phones.
I was woken up by the whiff of deep fried goodness. It was evening snacks time! The conical wrapping could mean just one thing! Samosas! I was thrilled but had to hide my hunger and excessive salivation waiting for my turn in the tray distribution process. If there’s one thing better than samosas it’s samosas with ketchup! I was already imagining the taste with tiny frooti. Yum! Yum!
Finally, I had my tray. Quickly opened my samosa and ketchup packets. Little did I know, the ketchup packet was just pretending to be open. As soon as I did the pichkoo action, out came the ketchup in full force projectile..before I could do damage control, it was all over one of the uncle’s white kurta. There were only two witnesses to this untoward happening..the college girls! ..whose eyes were definitely a few centimeters wider! One look at them and I knew they would be my secret keeper. To destroy all evidence, I quickly dropped the ketchup packet on the floor and shoved it behind my bag. Alas, had to consume my samosa without ketchup.
With a full tummy, I again put on my earphones and dozed off. Woke up to netaji uncle and aunty fighting. Took me a few minutes to realize the fight originated with aunty being irritated with uncle’s clumsy eating habits that resulted in a ketchup stain on the “Nirma” kurta..Damn! My eyes straight away went to the girls who had this “we support you Sista” look. The bickering continued and now it was too late to take the blame. That day I realized, self-preservation skills might be my biggest asset. I stared in horror with a deep feeling of self-loathe! Amidst this, heard someone call out my station name. I took out my luggage, bid farewell to my sisters, apologized to aunty uncle in my thoughts and rushed to the bogie gate. At last, the trip that had suddenly turned into a “guilt” trip ended.
Any guesses what I did next? Well, ofcourse picked up some fresh samosas and ketchup on my way home…