Thursday, December 29, 2005

Waiting for the Mangalore Express by Rambo

Waiting for the Mangalore Express by Rambo

Waiting for Raj Dhani express birngs back this very special memory that I treasure and would like to share with all members of IIT- Global.

It was end of March 2001. Health issues took me from Sydney to Madras and then on to Calicut for Ayurvedic Treatment for four full weeks.

Nothing short of a prison term. Couped up in an a/c room in a house (nursing home) with my younger sister who is a surgeon and insisted on keeping an eye on me.

We were allowed to go downstairs just to the massage room. Otherwise confined and not even allowed for walks. Imagine paying Rs 50000 for this nigtmare. The food was so bad, that I could have cannibalised Raman the cook if only he had been a bit more meaty.

We insisted on them moving their large TV from the reception cable and all to our room. Otherwise we were going to pack up and leave. Thank God we are cricket mad and the test match at Eden garden,Calcutta was on when Laxman, Dravid and Baji showed the
Aussies what Indians are capable of. (Now now when it comes to cricket I am 200% Indian) I even got hooked to all Tamil serials. Any way the day of discharge came.

As some one who did not rely on local transport and timings of trains I got to Calicut Station nice and early for a 4.00pm Mangalore Express back to Madras.

Little surprise that the train was going to be late. We sat down on the railway benches and started reading the news paper.

4.00 pm came and there was still an hour to go. I got up and walked to the shop on the platform. "Just looking" I told my sister. She knew what I was upto and shook her head in disapproval.Too late.

My gaze switched from magazines to FOOD. I then suddenly yielded to temptation. I asked for two bottles of cold mango juice and two packs of Kerala banana chips. My mouth was watering.

Took out my wallet to pay and I felt a little shrug on my T-shirt from behind. There was this little girl not older than about seven, carrying a little baby on her hips. She looked at me with pleading eyes. I just melted and placed the two drinks and two banana chips in her hands. I will never forget the joy in that childs eyes.

The shop keeper shook his head and took out two more of each. I was just checking the balance in my wallet, when in no time at all I was surrounded by about ten to fifteen kids.

I remembered all the children at our birthday parties for kids in Sydney. Heaps of food and drinks and we also had the clown come home and perform plus take home giftpacks. I was saddened by the plight of these children.

"I am going to give them a party", I decided.

I made them all stand in a line and asked the shop keeper to give a mango juice and a large packet of chips to each child. He protested feebly.

He asked "Saaru Entha Ooru ?? " sort of implying that I was crazy. I just smiled and beckoned him to do as he was told. Everyone of them took their treats and went and sat around my sister. We suddenly realised that every man & woman on the platform was looking at us. They all thought I was crazy too. Some smiled approvingly.

About Rs 1800 I was told. I paid him only to realise that I did not have enough for the two of us. The mango juice was also finished. So I was about to walk away when the shop keeper gave me two cold fantas and chips packets.

"Sarru Good man , me give" he said in his broken english. I said thanks and went back to my seat. It was a real joy to see all those beautiful eyes looking at me thankfully.

As I sat down, my sister said do you have any money left to buy bananas on the way as we have no food for the night ?

We just burst out laughing.

I hope to be back in Madras this Christmas. I am sure I am going to repeat this at some other railway station.